The Benefits of Bees

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Bees are an absolutely amazing and relevant part of virtually every homestead, on or off the grid. While the thought of being surrounded by bees may be intimidating at first, the benefits are such that they far outweigh any detriment save on those occasions when the homesteader may be allergic to bees … in which case this approach is probably best left to the care of the neighbors. However, even in cases where one homesteader may in fact be allergic to the bees, it may be possible to work out a deal with some of the neighbors, perhaps exchanging some of the costs in return for a portion of the benefits.

 

Raw Honey as Medicine

There are those who openly mock my approach when it comes to doctors, as I believe them to be scarcely any more adept than the average car mechanic. They frequently make every effort to cure the symptoms without always necessarily searching for the root cause, and in addition, are going to bill you excessively large amounts regardless of whether or not they can fix the problem … or even if the process of trying to cure the symptom, kills you in the process … your heirs will still be saddled with the bills for their failed efforts. I believe doctors do serve a purpose and they are in fact, very invaluable at treating bullet holes, deep stab wounds and broken bones … but that is about the extent of my faith and experience with doctors.

 

This is relevant here because one oft overlooked benefit of raw honey … that is to say honey that comes straight out of the hive and is not purified, processed or otherwise “treated” to alter it from its natural state, works as an amazing salve for wounds both large and small. Whether it is a random branch that has been impaled through a foot, a major cut resulting from a fall or other injurious encounter, the placement of raw honey, wrapped up in clean cloth, pulled tight enough to close the wound and leave the honey as a coating will result in an amazing healing process for most people, including the absence of large amounts of unsightly scarring and a buildup of scar tissue resulting from stapling or sewing the wound shut.

 

Bees as a Defensive Measure

Hives of bees kept close to any structure on the homestead, especially if all of those structures are surrounded by thorn-bearing flowers and berry bushes, will assist in adding a secondary defensive measure to the different facilities on the homestead. An unwary intruder, seeking only to get rid of the bees he sees, can easily enrage the entire hive by taking a couple of good swipes at the bees buzzing him as he seeks to enter the homestead without the permission of the owner. Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of a swarm from an enraged hive of bees will readily attest to how quickly such an event will encourage someone to leave.

 

Mead and Honey Beer

Besides being an amazing medicine in and of itself, the honey is also great for making a surprisingly refreshing and pleasant tasting beer. Heffeweissen or Honey Wheat beer is gaining an increasingly popular following in the US, but the Nordic people, including the vikings of old, have used honey to make a variant of beer for generations … and it really is surprisingly good and refreshing, even when made without wheat or other fermented grains. There are also some recipes that I have discovered where it can be used in conjunction with berries for wine and/or brandy, though I have not yet had the opportunity to try any of these out personally as of the time of this writing.

 

Bees for Agriculture

One of the most common concerns regarding the increasing disappearance of bees in the wild, is the reduction of the bees necessary for much of the agricultural pollination that must take place for the local plant life, both domestic and wild. Despite the advertisement on the bottles of honey purchased in the stores, it really is highly unlikely, barring a completely isolated ecosystem, that the honey comes solely from clover, or wheat or any other singular source. Bees will gather nectar from each and every plant growing within the range of their hive, no matter what kind of plant life or flower it must be. In terms of agricultural pursuits on the homestead, this will mean an increase in the production of fruits and vegetables for the homesteader. No food forest would be complete without at least one large hive of bees, though it is hard to imagine ever being able to have too many bees.

 

Bees Wax

The Bees Wax that is extracted from the hive can be used for numerous different functions around the homestead. Bees wax is one of the preferred means of treating and waterproofing leather as the bees wax will preserve the natural color of the leather without staining, dying or other discoloration. Bees wax can also be used for candle making, ensuring a never ending supply of long-lasting candles that can be used during extended periods without power or even as a more romantic setting for those that are so inclined. Bees wax also serves as a natural and healthy means to seal all of those mason jars during canning season, without having to go out and spend loads of money on less natural sealers.

 

Honey

Besides the medical benefits of honey for healing wounds, and even the benefits of honey-beer, there is a lot to be said for the more simple consumption of honey just for the sake of having honey. Anyone who has ever risen to the smell of hot cakes or biscuits or even cornbread cooking, only to anxiously and quickly get up and rush to the table to find still hot bread, coated with butter and honey, will know exactly what is being said here. Sometimes, eating honey just for the sake of eating honey is reward enough for keeping the hives safe and sound and keeping the bees fat and happy … and they will work diligently to keep the beekeeper equally fat and happy … so to speak.

Comments

The Owl Added Jan 19, 2019 - 11:39am
Bees are wonderful creatures...We do everything we can to foster their presence our gardens and vegetable patch.
 
And honey...like playing outside as a kid...has remarkable benefits to the human body, a quick source of energy when needed and immunization against allergies pathogens.  I'm not familiar with any specific medical cures, but I am confident that credible research studies have proven connections.
 
"...(Doctors) frequently make every effort to cure the symptoms without always necessarily searching for the root cause...."  - Ward Tipton.
 
You're seeing the wrong doctors, Ward.  And you're not exercising your prerogatives as a patient either in insisting on moving beyond the symptoms...or insisting on a reasoned explanation as to why it is not currently appropriate...or voting with your feet.
 
A decade ago, my wife was diagnosed with cancer.  We had the option of staying local and getting treatment at one of the two hospitals nearby with reasonably rated cancer centers.  We chose instead to go to one of three, world-renowned cancer centers in the major city just 60 miles away.
 
My wife is now cancer free, and we have moved ALL of our medical treatment to a facility that always is mentioned as one of the top hospitals in the nation and the world.  Our doctors are keen on solving the problems that we have as that is the best way, and ultimately the most affordable, of keeping us healthy.
 
I seriously recommend to all that if they feel the way that Ward does about the medical care he and his family receives, that he become an active partner in deciding the care that they receive or move to practices that encourage individuals to become so engaged.
 
 
Ward Tipton Added Jan 19, 2019 - 11:51am
"You're seeing the wrong doctors, Ward. "
 
I may have mentioned in another article that I have not been to a doctor since I got out of the military, and make it a point to only visit them when there is a need to reset a broken bone, patch up a bullet hole or close a deep stab wound. That being said, it also pays to bear in mind where I live ... though the care in rural West Virginia and rural Nevada was not much better in reality ... you are looking at three to five hundred mile drives to better facilities from those locations as well. Part of the price I pay for living out in the sticks as I prefer. Que sera sera. 
FacePalm Added Jan 19, 2019 - 2:15pm
From what i recall, the word "honeymoon" originated with the Vikings, who would make a honey mead; the father of the bride would be responsible to supply enough honey mead to keep the prospective groom drunk for a month before the wedding.
 
My grandfather kept bees; as i recall, he had about a 4' tall galvanized tube that had baffles inside it, to separate the comb from the honey(and occasional bees).  He also had the suit and the smoker, to "put the bees to sleep" is the way he put it.
 
If memory serves, he'd harvest the honey around midsummer, so as to allow the bees time to restore their supply prior to winter.
 
There has been a lot of speculation as to what's causing the "CCD," or "Colony Collapse Disorder," i think it's called, but i believe i remember Einstein saying that if the bees go, so will the human race.  i haven't seen a honeybee around my place for several years.
 
I used to plant a garden every year, but haven't in at least 5, now; a couple of years ago, someone gave me a couple tomato plants, so i cleared out a spot for 'em and planted, but they didn't do too well.  Used to be that i had ripe tomatoes no later than the end of July(once, by July 5), but the last ones that grew in my garden didn't ripen 'til mid-September, and had little flavor...unusual, since in previous years, i had huge and abundant harvests which i mostly gave away to neighbors, and was always complimented on the sweetness of them, especially from the beefsteak variety.  My next-door neighbor would toss scraps from his family's meals into a flower garden, and many plants started from seeds; last year, he took his family back to his home country and asked me to take in the mail, and i'd observe the tomatoes he had growing out there - not a one of them ripened up and became fully red.,,and my "mailboy" chore didn't end until late September.  Don't know what i suspect is going on with plants, these days.
 
One of my favorite things was to get some buttered biscuits from Popeyes, cut a thick slice of tomato and put it between the biscuit halves, then chow down.  None of it would have been possible without the bees.
edinmountainview Added Jan 19, 2019 - 8:40pm
I help in a couple of gardens (my Mother's and a friend's) and bees are always welcome.  One problem I have noticed in my friend's garden is an invasion of yellow jackets.  Those pesky scum buckets would just as soon take a big bite out of you just because you are food to them, they like meat -- it's happened to me.  The later in the summer; the hotter it gets; the hotter their tempers get and they will attack you even if you are standing motionless, and they are always searching around the garden.  
Semper Fi
Ward Tipton Added Jan 20, 2019 - 1:47pm
I fell face first into a nest of yellow jackets one time when I was a kid ... man was that painful. 
Ward Tipton Added Jan 20, 2019 - 1:48pm
And I think I would have had radish, onion and tomato on mine ... but I have always been weird LOL I never mastered the art of the biscuit, pie crusts or pastry somehow ... even with an electric oven ... though I have always preferred gas for the stove top and griddle, electric is far more even for the oven. 
edinmountainview Added Jan 20, 2019 - 2:50pm
Ward - ouch!!  I did learn last year how to destroy the yellow jacket nest.  We waited until it was nightfall and the yellow jackets are sluggish because of the coolness.  I did the hart part - I held the flashlight.  Hahahahahahaha!  The brave one of the two of us had a trowel in one hand and a portable torch in the other.  He fired up the outside of the hole and continued to dig until he found the nest and fried 'em all.  There were some stragglers left but they eventually died off within a few days.  We also buried a nest; that was eerie because we could hear the yellow jackets buzzing, they were pissed off that their hole was blocked.  They eventually died too.
 
Radish, onion and tomato sandwich sounds great.  Put a little Tabasco sauce on it and yummmm, baby.
Semper Fi
Ward Tipton Added Jan 20, 2019 - 4:06pm
Garclic chili sauce or the serrano chilis if fresh ... maybe even some Chipotle Sauce ... not from the restaurant chain that stole the name, but the original, hickory smoked jabaneros in tomato paste. 
Ward Tipton Added Jan 20, 2019 - 4:07pm
Tobasco sauce has too much vinegar for my taste. Just tastes too chemical. 
edinmountainview Added Jan 20, 2019 - 5:17pm
Yeah, it's an acquired taste, I guess.  I've been eating Tabasco, along with other hot stuff my whole life, whole peppers or sauces.  I don't know if it's true or not, but I credit my eating hot stuff with having clean veins -- no cholesterol for me -- and helping my metabolism.  I have had some garlic chili sauce, that's good stuff.  I got a bottle of it in a set of six different kinds of hot sauces.  My family gets me kits of hot sauces for gifts.  hahahahahahahaha!  They know me. 
Semper Fi 
Ward Tipton Added Jan 20, 2019 - 5:33pm
My wife makes mine for me ;) We make as much of our own stuff as we can though. The Jabaneros are called Diablo Chili Peppers here ... have not gotten enough of those to grow yet to make them feasible, but working on it. 
edinmountainview Added Jan 20, 2019 - 6:02pm
Nice of her; don't forget to thank her, Ward.  I like that name Diablo Chili Peppers.  I went out to lunch with a couple of friends of mine a few years back and she brought me a couple of jabaneros she grew in her back yard.  (Everyone feels they have to give me hot stuff . . . hahahahahaha!)  Anyway, they were watching me closely as I ate it, waiting for me to burn, baby, burn . . . I didn't eat the seeds that day so didn't burn all that much.  They were disappointed.  Hahahahahaha!
Semper Fi
Ward Tipton Added Jan 20, 2019 - 6:28pm
If you ever get close by, let me know. Mind you, the garlic chili sauce if rife with seeds. 
edinmountainview Added Jan 20, 2019 - 6:46pm
Thank you, Ward.  I don't mind the seeds, I just didn't eat them that day - I wouldn't have been able to taste anything else.
Semper Fi
Ward Tipton Added Jan 20, 2019 - 6:52pm
Hahahahahaha been there too. Still, we tend to leave them in, but when done properly, they highlight the other flavors too. 
opher goodwin Added Jan 21, 2019 - 9:59am
Bees are incredible creatures. Social insects with a great ability to communicate.
I fully concur with all your points. Bees make delicious honey (bee puke) which is not only nutritious and beneficial but is a medicine. On wounds, such as foreskin infections, it promotes healing (stops people coming to a sticky end) and in general helps the immune system. Nothing better for a sore throat than sipping a hot toddy of honey, lemon and whiskey.
They pollinate our plants for free.
What would we do without them?
At present bees (along with other insects) are being wiped out by pesticides and varroa mites. They need our protecting.
opher goodwin Added Jan 21, 2019 - 10:01am
BTW - what are yellowjackets - wasps, hornets or some angry Frenchmen?
Even A Broken Clock Added Jan 21, 2019 - 2:28pm
Opher - yellow jackets are nasty, evil wasps that like to live in holes in the ground (or inside the siding of a house). To those of us who are sensitive to yellow jackets, you learn to watch for them flying out of the ground when you are mowing, as you never want to mow over a hive of them.
 
I got stung once on my ring finger. The finger swelled up so much that I could not get the ring off, even though I tried to do it immediately. I had to go to the emergency room for help on getting it off because I was worried I was losing circulation.
 
Ward - good post on the benefits of bees. Bumble bees are also great, but do not produce honey. I do enjoy seeing them at my flowers, at least those that the deer leave behind.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 21, 2019 - 2:37pm
Without bees we're fucked. But as technology advances we'll have minidrones doing that job. Welcome ! We're killing nature with technology and think that will work.....
Eric Reports Added Jan 21, 2019 - 2:47pm
The "unexplained" eradication of bees can be attributed to GMO corn.  
opher goodwin Added Jan 21, 2019 - 3:08pm
EABC - thanks - that's what I thought they must be.
Ward Tipton Added Jan 21, 2019 - 3:09pm
See Jeff Goldblum and his diatribe about God and man in Jurassic Park Stone ... he says about the same thing. Yet life ... finds a way. 
opher goodwin Added Jan 21, 2019 - 3:11pm
Eric - the loss of bees is entirely consisted with both the spread of mites and the use of nicotinamide pesticides. The sooner they are banned the better.
We are presently killing off the insect population and all the creatures that live on insects with them. It is making the world a poorer place.
It has nothing to do with GMO. It is happening where there is none.
Ward Tipton Added Jan 21, 2019 - 3:14pm
Solar power is killing a great many of them as well, including making entire ecosystems virtually bug free ... and doing a number on the birds as well.
 
Cliff M. Added Jan 21, 2019 - 3:31pm
I love honey. Peanut butter and honey, honey on my oatmeal or where ever it can be substituted for sugar. Roundup is one of the major culprits in the shrinking of the bee population and other insects. Bee's are like everything else . If you don't fuck with them they usually aren't a problem. 
Ward Tipton Added Jan 21, 2019 - 3:34pm
Honey on fresh baked cornbread and/or biscuits ... cream butter and honey on hotcakes ... oh yeah. 
 
And mead is good too ... but generally with meat or beans rather than the topping for carbohydrate treats. 
Dave Volek Added Jan 21, 2019 - 5:53pm
Another fine article: educational and easy to read.
 
Are you thinking of turning this series into something more visible than WB?
Ward Tipton Added Jan 21, 2019 - 6:29pm
These are just articles I write to relax and warm up before I get into more serious and difficult writing challenges, like Humanitarian Impact Studies, Environmental Impact Studies, Economic Impact Studies and other stuff along those lines. These particular articles are ones I wrote for a guy who has a prepper site, and given my penchant for living on my homestead, I offered to write some and post them on his site. However, he then decided he wanted them customized to his site, and I informed him if he wanted custom articles, he would have to pay me to write them, so I just posted them here. Most of these, I do not really see posting as a marketable product anywhere, any more than my stories of my youth, though I suppose it is possible if I found a paying market. 
Ward Tipton Added Jan 21, 2019 - 6:30pm
For that matter, even a market with a more wide spectrum in its audience, in hopes of finding paying clients LOL
Dave Volek Added Jan 21, 2019 - 9:24pm
Ward
While I have not been successful as a writer (fame and finance-wise), it is still a great feeling to know that my work is out there, available for the public at any time. And it really doesn't cost that much--if one values their hobby time very cheaply. This opportunity was not there 21 years ago.
 
Posting solely on WB would not be enough for me.
 
And setting up an ebook is not that difficult either.
 
Anyways, go where your intuition tells you. I think if your homestead stories are compiled together, they form a nice collection.
Ward Tipton Added Jan 21, 2019 - 10:33pm
I have a sci fi book published just to have it out there, the second is in the works. I lost over two million words of manuscripts when I lost my home here. I also have the book out for Systemic Sustainable Development, though I must confess, I tend to give out more copies than I sell, just to get the concept out there. I used to be able to make a couple of grand a month with my writing part time, but these days, seems I have to compete with people from third world countries who are "being very happy to be writting for you sir" for a quarter per article ... which I refuse to do ... and would rather give them away than to devalue my work to that level. I have a couple of people I am working with, though I would prefer to build another website but have to survive for the time being, and provide for my family and livestock ... and as I mentioned, if the current negotiations go well with the capital investment group I am currently working with, perhaps soon I can begin paying them off and then working on building with the indigenous tribes and introducing a new system instead of just talking about it ... the best laid plans of mice and men right? 
Cliff M. Added Jan 22, 2019 - 10:03am
I have worked outside building stuff for more than 40 years. The carpenter bee's or "bumble bee's" and sand wasp's are the most interesting of the bee family I have encountered. The carpenter bee's would just circle for hours if you were in an area where they were nesting and then fall to the ground exhausted. Totally docile and never met an aggressive one. The sand wasp's are an impressive site. Some are a couple of inches long. Look like giant wasps. I never have really seen them aggressive except where cicada's were involved. They seem to love to post up in and around sand traps on golf courses.Hornet's are to be wary of. Very protective of their turf. I have found "sharing the space" is key to getting along with the vast majority of these creatures.
Ward Tipton Added Jan 22, 2019 - 12:07pm
Getting stung is something that will almost inevitably happen when beginning to keep bees. My wife is still hesitant to allow me to place a hive here, though I would love to, if nothing else merely to allow for my neighbors to enjoy their presence as well. Wasps can be nasty but hornets are just downright ornery in my experience. 
Cliff M. Added Jan 22, 2019 - 12:30pm
I've been stung but it is usually from disturbing their residence . There seems to be a new type of hornet . Miniature in size but still pesty.
Ward Tipton Added Jan 22, 2019 - 12:55pm
They do seem to tend to build their residence in a most ... intrusive fashion. LOL Well, the ones I have been forced to disturb anyhow ... under awnings, on stairwells ... but I still swear by keeping bees. 
Jeff Michka Added Jan 22, 2019 - 10:02pm
Gee, Ward, are you selling freeze-dried bees to your preppers?  Bet Jim Bakker sells bees in cans, they'll last a couple of decades before turning into dust, so they might survive the liberal apocalypse you rightist keep claiming will happen, just buy more food for preppers, eh?
Ward Tipton Added Jan 22, 2019 - 11:51pm
You seem oddly obsessed with Jim Bakker ... is that like a secret crush you have? Never watched television preachers, never did any freeze drying, and never was a salesman ... wait ... maybe it is me you have the crush on? Surely you cannot be that lonely down there in that basement can you Jeff? You really should try to get out sometimes and breathe some of that air in the real world ... you may even find it refreshing. You are not spending your hard earned cash on the Tammy Faye School of Make Up I hope. 
edinmountainview Added Jan 22, 2019 - 11:55pm
Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
Semper Fi
Ward Tipton Added Jan 23, 2019 - 12:19am
Sorry Ed, I could not help it. I thought everyone knew you never freeze dry bees, you coat them in chocolate! Duh. 
edinmountainview Added Jan 23, 2019 - 12:32am
Yep, I like mine in milk choclate.  I hadn't heard Tammy Faye's name in so long that when I finally came up with her picture in my mind, it me laugh.  She was a doozy.
Semper Fi
opher goodwin Added Jan 23, 2019 - 6:42am
Ward - how do you think solar power is killing insects and birds?
opher goodwin Added Jan 23, 2019 - 6:45am
Ward - publishing on Kindle Direct is free. You get paperback and digital. They are printed on demand at a reasonable cost.
Ward Tipton Added Jan 23, 2019 - 7:07am
It is not how I think solar and wind are killing birds and insects, but rather the data backing those facts up. Do a quick search for Smokers and Flamers for one, and then look up the bird deaths from wind generators. I will try to get some links for you too, but may take a bit. 
 
Yeah, I have a couple of books there, but give more away than I sell. Still trying to put over two million words back down after having lost them once ... may put them there just to avoid losing them again LOL
Ward Tipton Added Jan 23, 2019 - 8:20am
One from Audobon though it fails to take into consideration that many (most or all?) solar panels with current tech, also create more pollution in their creation and disposal as MSW than the mining process and the actual burning of the coal necessary to generate the same levels of power. This is highly biased towards the solar power, which mind you, I am not opposed to in Point Of Use technologies, but within limitations as well if we are to make any pretense about doing so to save the environment ... including how and where the panels are made ... but many states such as Florida also have very restrictive laws on solar and require them to be tied into the grid as well ...
 
While this article is biased, it does mention the two primary threats from commercial solar plants ... a search for windmills will reveal similar results ... bats, raptors of all types being killed in the wind farms ... so much so that Obama issued special permits allowing for the "taking" of endangered species ... and you need to read the Endangered Species Act for the numerous definitions, though in this case, it just meant the killing ... a waiver to allow for the killing of thousands (or more) of these endangered species at wind and solar plants in various locations in the USA. 
 
More to come. 
Ward Tipton Added Jan 23, 2019 - 8:21am
Ward Tipton Added Jan 23, 2019 - 8:29am
A bunch here in Google Results including this jewel which killed 115 birds in the first day of testing alone What happens outside of Vegas does not stay outside of Vegas ... 115 dead in testing alone
 
and just so the Wind Farms do not feel left out
 
From those radical republicans up there in Canada eh?
 
And some people at least proposing some solutions though still rightfully concerned about the death of so many birds ... which is what they are working on solving
 
As I told you before ... I am all about solutions but will fight to my dying breath the oppression of anyone or anything in that quest ... no matter how well intended they may be in that oppression. 
 
There are solutions, but they require funding, which requires building an Inc to fund them ... which is the current focus of my efforts. 
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Jan 23, 2019 - 10:43am
Bees are nice but not indigenous to the Americas. Probably came over on the Mayflower with my 11th great grandfather. We do not risk a pollination problem as we have bugs galore. 
Ward Tipton Added Jan 23, 2019 - 10:58am
Some bugs pollinate but not all do, the bees, indigenous or not, are the only source for honey and mead ... and world class toppings for hot cakes ... and fresh biscuits ... and ... 
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Jan 23, 2019 - 1:08pm
Agreed and honey is great--mead not so great. The political  problem here is that the lefties want to ban herbicides [ Roundup] to protect  honey bees without any proof. 
 
https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/new-study-shows-roundup-kills-bees
Ward Tipton Added Jan 23, 2019 - 3:24pm
I like the mead, but I do prefer the honey wheat beer. 
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Jan 24, 2019 - 3:54pm
Bourbon
Ward Tipton Added Jan 24, 2019 - 4:54pm
Bourbon is even better, but you need a federal fuel license to be able to make it legally. Maybe I should post that article next?

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