Archive for December, 2007

Honey, thought to be the most expensive in the world, has gone on sale at Harrods.

The luxurious Life Mel honey
The luxurious Life Mel honey

Life Mel honey costs a whopping £42 for a pot containing just 120g.

Celebrities including Sienna Miller and Kylie Minogue are huge fans, according to the London department store.

But the jars will not be found on the shelves of the food hall.

Harrods is selling the product in its pharmacy instead, because of its reputed health benefits.

From: http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30400-1298224,00.htm (Updated on Sunday December 23, 2007)


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Apitherapy is the broad practice of using bee pollen, propolis, royal jelly, beeswax, honey or bee venom for therapeutic use.  Like most “alternative” therapies, there is nothing new about it.  The only thing “new” is Western medicine finally “discovering” it!  Chinese physicians of 4000 years ago used apitherapy.  Hippocrates wrote of its uses.  The Roman physician Galen (130 AD) prescribed Bee Venom Therapy.  Charlemagne was known to use bee stings to alleviate arthritic symptoms.  And the Athenian lawmaker Solon, (530 BC), found apiaries so vital to Greek society that laws were written to protect them.

Using the sting of the bee to encourage health is the most dramatic area of apitherapy. And the most dramatic evidence supporting BVT is being gathered in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).

A conservative estimate of MS patients in the US using BVT is 5000. Most go to lay practitioners or self-administer the stings.

MS is a very complex affliction apparently focusing on the nervous system and the ability of the body to transmit nerve information. It also displays links with connective tissue disorders and immune system imbalances. MS patients suffer extreme fatigue, lack of balance and muscle control (ataxia), and chronically progress to immobility, usually becoming wheel-chair bound.

MS is described by Western medicine as “incurable.” The 1993 drug interferon beta was looked at hopefully, being the first new drug developed by the biotechnology industry in 30 years. It is now not so hopeful, extremely expensive (at $1000/mo), and patients show only incremental gains if any.

Bee Venom Therapy, on the other hand, is inexpensive, has relatively no side-effects, and is showing so much promise in treatment of MS, that the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is funding studies.

The NMSS makes it very clear that it does not recommend bee stings because of the “absence of clinical studies,” and therefore has awarded funding to Fred Lublin, M.D., Director of Neuroimmunology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia to conduct a study of its efficacy.

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) is also funding research. Their grant has gone to John Santilli, M.D., of Bridgeport (Conn.) Hospital for clinical trials.

Both of these tests are taking the “Western” approach of breaking down the components of the bee venom to find the “active” ingredients. A more holistic approach would be to use the natural sting effect.

BVT has been shown to be effective in addressing several other afflictions besides MS.  It is most promising in the treatment of arthritic conditions. Other maladies responding include wound treatments, vascular disease, respiratory disease, especially asthma, viral and immune system deficiencies.

From: http://www.heartlandhealing.com/pages/archive/bee_venom_therapy/index.html

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My friend, Frank, suggested I research into the Merovingian kings – and their fascination for bees.  More recently this part of beelore has been popularised by Dan Brown’s best seller “The Da Vinci Code”.  Much of this book was based on previous research, some of which is shown below:
From “Bloodline of the Holy Grail” by Laurence Gardner:

The Merovingian kings were noted sorcerors in the manner of the Samaritan Magi, and they firmly believed in the hidden powers of the honeycomb. Because a honeycomb is naturally made up of hexagonal prisms, it was considered by philosophers to be the manifestation of divine harmony in nature. Its construction was associated with insight and wisdom – as detailed in Proverbs 24:13-14: “My son, eat thou honey, because it is good… So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul…”

To the Merovingians, the bee was a most hallowed creature. A sacred emblem of Egytian royalty, it became a symbol of Wisdom. Some 300 small golden bees were founded stitched to the cloak of Childeric I (son of Meroveus) when his grave was unearthed in 1653. Napoleon had these attached to his own coronation robe in 1804. He claimed this right by virtue of his descent from James de Rohan-Stuardo, the natural son (legitimized in 1667) of Charles II Stuart of Britain by Marguerite, Duchesse de Rohan. The Stuarts in turn were entitled to this distinction because they, and their related Counts of Brittany, were descended from Clodion’s brother Fredemundus – thus (akin to the Merovingians) they were equally in descent from the Fisher Kings through Faramund. The Merovingian bee was adopted by the exiled Stuarts in Europe, and engraved bees are still to be seen on some Jacobite glassware.”

…….strange, but the other day I found some French (La Rochère) glassware in our local town – and it had bees on it – so we had to get some – and it has been fantastic! 

La Rochere Bee Shot, 1 oz, Set of 6

It is good to see that this French glassmaker is continuing the tradition of celebrating the Merovingian or Napoleonic bee!

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Found at www.beekeeping.com from Bill Morong – Email: morharn@KYND.NET – a very useful article on making Bee Candy which I am going to try:

Having printed and studied all the bee candy references in the archives, we decided to attempt to take a fudgy or fondant-like candy. We did not wish to use corn syrup as we have some question about all corn syrup processes being good for bees. We did not wish to include cream of tartar for similar reasons. We began with the “12345” formula, using a small amount of vinegar (volatilized in process) to break down the sugar. We found the 1:5 water to sugar ratio too quick for the response of our thermometer in small batches, and backed off to 1:4, which doesn’t change the end result, but slows the process. Our first pour, on a greased metal sheet, yielded a suitably friable cake but one too brittle for easy handling. Cooling the sheet with snow worsened the brittleness. Pouring onto wax paper on a towel gave a nice cake, but too thin. Cooling to 200F prior to pouring increased cake thickness.

In conclusion, to obtain satisfactory cakes we:

  1. Use 1 part water to 4 parts granulated sugar.

  2. Add 1/4 tsp. per vinegar per pound of sugar.

  3. Bring to boil, stirring constantly until boiling commences.

  4. Boil without stirring for 3 minutes, covered.

  5. Insert thermometer, and boil uncovered until 234F is reached.

  6. Remove from heat, and allow to cool to 200F.

  7. Whip with whisk until whiteness occurs.

  8. Pour (QUICKLY!) onto waxed paper having a towel beneath.
  9. Allow to cool undisturbed.

  10. Remove waxed paper, and store each cake in a plastic bag.

The cakes thus made can be handled as plates, but are fudgy. They are totally white with whiter areas inside. Tiny crystals shine from a broken edge of a cake. The waxed paper is readily removed before storage. If the towel is fluffy the wax paper depresses limiting the width of the cake. We did try to make the candy without stirring which yielded a transparent gel that was extremely sticky. We did try to recycle our earlier failures, but they were crumbly until we added vinegar again, after which they behaved as new sugar. The bees seem to like these cakes.

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Bee bread or bee pollen is the main source of food for most honey bees and their larvae.  It is fed to all larvae except those that are destined to become queens; the queen larvae are fed royal jelly instead.  Bee bread consists of honey and pollens which are gathered by the worker bees.  A recent study of bee bread showed it contained 188 kinds of fungi and 29 kinds of bacteria.  Bee bread is sometimes referred to as Ambrosia.  Bee bread is used in naturopathic medicine traditions and as a nutritional supplement, although exposure may trigger allergic or anaphylactic reactions in sensitive people.

From: http://www.changxingfengye.com/en/know/fhf.php

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I was surprised that the beekeeper was so willing to come to our house so quickly.  Later I discovered that collecting a swarm of bees is not like sending for a rat catcher.  It is not even like mole catching.  A swarm of bees has a value – and if you want to take them from a resting place like the one they had chosen that afternoon in our garden, then you only have until the next morning before they will be on the move again. 

The old English saying goes:

“A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay

A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon

A swarm of bees in July is not worth a fly!”

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Honey for Sale!

Anyway, by this stage it was half past four and Mum said that we should find someone to take the bees away.  She suggested that I ring the local butchers shop as they sold local honey.  Not my first thought of action, but a sensible one.  Mum always had sensible ideas in an emergency.  The butcher gave us the name of a local beekeeper who answered their phone straight away.  It was a quietly spoken woman.  I explained what the situation was and she said:  “I’ll be over right away.  It should take me about 20 minutes”.

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