Our way of life as we know it has come about from the unnoticed efforts of the honey bee and other world wide pollinators.
Honey bees have been part of our lives for centuries. They have been traced back to as far as 7,000 BC, whereupon humans that were alive at the time of the Bronze Age, were said to have drunk Mead, which was derived from fermented honey. Bees have also been found depicted in stone wall drawings and carvings dating back to ancient Egyption times.
The produce of bees by way of propolis and honey has also been used throughout the centuries for its healing properties. Today, we use propolis as a non toxic substance to help build up our bodies resistance to disease, as it stimulates our bodies to release chemicals which protect us from cellular deterioration. It can be used as an aid to stimulate collagen formation, enzymes and cell metabolism.
Propolis is also known to help wounds to heal quicker, in addition to stimulating physical, intellectual and sexual performance.
Propolis in a cream form, is used to effectively treat second degree burns and in doing so, reduce inflammation of the skin.
Propolis has been used in many scientific studies, one of which was carried out and published by Cancer Research, who concluded after a study carried out on rats, that the chemicals in Propolis could act against Cancer of the Oviaries.
Propolis Therapy has also been reported to have been effective when treating those suffering with inflammatory bowel problems and also aids the effectiveness of a course of antibiotics, or penicillin treatment.
Sufferers of pollen allergies, such as Hayfever, Asthma and Eczma have found that by taking as little as one teaspoon a day of local honey, can help relieve their symptoms.
For Asthma suffers, honey aids by thinning the mucous in the body and alleviating it from the respiratory system.
For those suffering with Eczma, honey helps to dry out blotches of scaly, sore skin and its antibacterial and regenerating properies help to heal the skin, whilst aiding new skin growth.
Local honey reduces the symptoms of Hay Fever sufferers, as it has been suggested that over time, the traces of pollen in the honey desensitises the body to the pollen, so that it no longer causes a reaction.
It is now common knowledge that Bees are currently in rapid decline. Noone knows exactly what the cause of this is, it is thought by some, to be down to an increase in bee diseases, parasites, over exposure to pesticides, climatic changes. However, what we do know is that the impact of on our world as we know it, without bees would be catastrophic.
We rely on bees to pollenate products both horticulturally and agriculturally; specifically, our plants, trees, fruit, vegetables, flowers and seeds from our harvests.
Anyone can learn to keep bees, the young, the old, the disabled to name but a few. The location doesn't matter either, bees do not disriminate against their keepers and are happy almost anywhere, whether it be in the town, the country, in a large or small garden, or even on a static boat! We even know of a Beekeeper who successfully keeps bees on top of his garden shed - see picture below.
Each and every one of us can help the honey bee population and below is what we can do:-
Learn to become a Beekeeper
A Beekeepers job is to manage his or her bees. Beekeeping is fun, rewarding and interesting. If you would like to find out more about learning how to keep bees, think about joining a course (we are running the next one in January 2011) or contact your local Beekeeping Association.
Keep lots of flowers, fruit trees and vegetables in your garden, or if space is limited, buy a couple of planters and plant these with some seasonal bedding plants. Bees love foraging for pollen and nectar and this also helps with cross pollination of the plants themselves.
Create "natural" gardens - even a small area of your garden can be used to create a natural habitat for bees. Plant some meadow seed mix in this area, you will soon have grasses, poppies and cornflowers, which the bees will really love.
Stop using insecticides
Bees are also insects and these are therefore harmful to the bee population. Look for alternative "Bee Friendly"solutions to your insect problem.
Read up on Honey Bees
You may not know it but simply by reading this website, you will have helped save some bees. The more knowledge you have about bees, how important they are and what can be done to save them, the more you will be able to spread the word to other people, so that they can also do the same thing!
Support us beekeepers by following the advice on this page and doing all you can to raise awareness about the plight of the Honey Bee. Alternatively, help us by joining your local Beekeeping Association to find out if there is any event which is local to you that you could support.
HOW TO TREAT A BEE STING
This is a guide for people who are NOT allergic to bee stings.
1) Remove the barbed stinger as soon as possible, as the venom can be pumped into the body for up to 20 minutes! Try to avoid using tweezers, or pinching it out as this can lead to it becoming more painful. It is better to scrape it out using something blunt or the side of a credit card.
2) Put an ice pack on the wound, this will help reduce inflammation.
3) Thoroughly wash the affected area.
4) Place an ice pack or cold compress over the wound to reduce swelling and inflammation
5) Apply a topical cream such as Calamine Lotion, or an Antihistamine Cream
6) A pain relief tablet may ease the pain or special allergy tablets (Piriton) can be taken.
The sting may leave a red welt on the skin and the area will be painful and can be itchy for up to a week. It can also become infected, which if this is the case, you will need to obtain medical advice.
ALLERGIC REACTIONS TO BEE STINGS
Many people have been found to be allergic to bee stings and this can be life threatening.
Symptoms to look out for can include;-
A dry cough followed by the eye area becoming itchy and swollen
Sneezing and wheeziness
Headache & fever
Severe swelling of the face, lips and tongue.
Developing a raise rash (hives)
Anaphylactic Shock - sudden weakness and anxiety, tightness in chest, difficulty breathing, very low blood pressure, loss of consciousness and shock. This can result in death and can occur within minutes. This condition requires urgent medical assistance.
Diagnosed sufferers should avoid being put in situations where they are likely to get stung and will often carry a self injection kit (Epipen) as a precaution against being stung, which will release adrenaline. These are very fast acting.
Doctors have the ability to carry out a test to determine whether or not a person is allergic to bee stings.
HOW TO AVOID BEING STUNG
Bees are naturally curious and will often fly in close to take a look at things. A bee will know that if it releases it's sting then it will die and will mainly only do this if it feels threatened in any way.
If a bee is near you either move away slowly, or stand perfectly still. Do not attempt to swat the bee, as this may agitate it.
If you are in the apiary, always wear protective clothing.
Try to avoid wearing flowery/ bright clothes, soaps, lotions and perfume/ aftershave.
If you have a bees nest near you, contact a Swarm Collector or your Local Beekeeping Association to arrange for them to remove them.
HOW TO HELP BEES TO MAKE THE MOST OF THE PLANTS IN YOUR GARDEN
Below are the best plants to put in your garden if you are a Beekeeper and wanting to give your bees something to forage on all year round. If you don't keep bees yourself, you can still help conserve bees and aid your local Beekeeper by installing some of these in your garden.
Most of the plants which have double flowers are no use to bees, as some of them have too many petals, which result in the bees being unable to get in and collect the nectar and the pollen. Other plants are just too elaborate and have neither a male or a female part in them.
It is good idea to plant your garden with the type of plants that blossom during the bees natural lifecyle, which is from March to September and have at least two plants which produce nectar and two which produce pollen. The reason behind this is that the adult bees feed on the nectar and pollen is fed to the young.
The best plants to choose are:-
Any from the single flowered Rose family in addition to Hawthorn, Potentilla and Crab Apple.
Fennel, Angelica, Cow Parsley and Sedum.
Bees love domed flowers and as such love Fox Glove, Snap Dragon, Heather and Penstemon.
If you would like all year round colour in your garden, as well as providing a foraging source for the bees, then choose one or two plants from each of the following flowering seasons.
Crab Apple, Bugle, Bluebell, Flowering Cherry, Forget Me Not, Hellebore, Pulmonaria, Pussy Willow, Viburnam, Rosemary, Rhodedendron, Thrift.
Astilbe, Campanula, Sweet Pea, Fennel, Foxglove, Potentilla, Snap Dragon, Geranium, Stachys, Thyme, Comfrey, Teasel, Verbascum.
Campanula, Dahlia, Fuchsia, Aster, Angelica, Globe Thistle, Heather, Ivy, Lavender, Penstemon, Sedum, Scabious, Cornflower, Buddleia.
If you are unsure what these plants or flowers look like, most of them can be found on the following link:-