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    Smiley Honey News

    Beekeeping for College Credit

    George Mason University, in Fairfax County, Virginia, now offers a beekeeping class to college students. Because GMU has just 12 beehives divided between two on-campus apiaries, the class size is limited to 12 students.  Each student is responsible for one hive and the bee colony inside. The course has become so popular that there is a waiting list of 100 students who want to take the class. Recently, the school partnered with Sweet Virginia Foundation, a beekeeping cooperative, in an effort to raise $10,000 in additional funds for the class. This would allow GMU to add 13 beehives to the program, for a total of 25 colonies. This is a great project, and it would be wonderful to see it expanded to college campuses all across America. If anyone reading this blog has connections at a college or university, why don't you suggest adding beekeeping as a college course? Andy Sachs, a freshman at GMU who took the course, summed up his experience with these words: "The main thing I have learned by studying bees is that they are really very social and are not out to sting you. They are gentle and important to the ecosystem."  Give that boy an "A"!

    For more information see: http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20131011/NEWS/131019773/0/fairfaxTimes&template=fairfaxTimes


    Photo Credit: Shamus Ian Fatzinger/Fairfax County Times

    Can Bees Detect Cancer in Humans?

    Okay folks, as far as I am concerned, this story is right up there with the first moon landing. Scientists are continuing to study the honeybee's hyper-sensitive sense of smell. Apparently, this sense of smell is so keen that honeybees can detect odors in human breath that indicate certain illnesses, including lung and skin cancer, tuberculosis and diabetes. Now, a designer in Portugal named Susana Soares has produced some glass devices that can be used as diagnostic tools by Dr. Honeybee. Check out this short video from The Weather Channel: http://www.weather.com/video/bees-able-to-detect-cancer-41597

    If you could see me now, I would be hugging my beehives and saying Thanks!

    Photo Credit: www.susanasoares.com

    Visions of Honeybees Dance in My Head

    In the November 28, 2013 edition of The Washington Post, journalist Adrian Higgins wrote a great piece about honeybees, which he titled "Visions of Honeybees Dance in My Head". I would post a link, but the Washington Post now requires a subscription for online viewing. So here are a few excerpts:

    Honeybees always seem urgent, but their industriousness comes with an extra edge at this time of year. They are driven to get themselves through the winter. [S]ome will make it, but many will not.

    Honeybees have been around for a while, even if they came to North America with the early European settlers, so you might think they have this overwintering thing down pat. Not so. We live in tough times for honeybees and their human stewards - this wonderful insect is afflicted as never before with a stew of pests and diseases that have brought on a malaise.

    Higgins goes on to discuss the challenges of nursing a colony of bees through the winter. He also notes that beekeepers are now coming to believe that breeding and using local queens, rather that using queens bred out of state, is a better option.  Higgins sums up his thoughts with:

    Thus, the dance between the bee and beekeeper is both fluid and fraught. The more I see other beekeepers, the more I sense that this art cannot be learned wholly as much as experienced.

    Thank you, Mr. Higgins.

    Photo Credit: www.washingtonpost.com


    Raw Honey, Allergies and Colds

    DeForest Clinton Jarvis graduated from the University of Vermont Medical College in 1904 and opened a private medical clinic in Barre, Vermont in 1909. The story is told that not many patients were coming into his office, and he wanted to know why. When he started asking around, the locals replied that they always used home remedies for their illnesses. Only when such remedies failed did they seek out a doctor. For Dr. Jarvis, that started a life-long study of home remedies, eventually leading to the publication of his best-selling book "Folk Medicine" in 1958. Two of the ingredients that receive a lot of attention in his book are honey and apple cider vinegar. In the chapter on honey, Dr. Jarvis wrote: "Honeycomb is excellent for treating certain disturbances of the breathing tract. The value of chewing honeycomb applies especially to the lining of the entire breathing tract. In addition to chewing the comb, eating honey each day is also part of the treatment."  Later in the chapter, Dr. Jarvis advises: "Vermont folk medicine divides hay fever into three classes: mild, moderately severe and severe. Its treatment is both preventative and symptomatic. If honeycomb cappings are chewed once a day for one month before the expected hay fever date, the hay fever will either not appear or will be mild in character."

    At Smiley Honey, we cannot give you medical advice, but we can pass along comments and anecdotes from our customers. Over the years, a number of customers have reported that eating raw honey has done wonders for their allergies. This comment from May 2013 is fairly typical: "I take tupelo honey every day for allergies and have not sneezed from hay fever or been unable to breathe for a couple of years! Plus it just tastes so good! I have turned my sisters into users and have told many friends about it."

    As for treating colds, we highly recommend a daily dose of some rooibos herbal tea with one or two teaspoons each of raw honey and unfiltered apple cider vinegar. You can adjust the ratio of honey and vinegar to suit your tastes. Allow the hot tea to cool down some before adding the honey as hot water can degrade the beneficial properties of raw honey. Dr. Jarvis (mentioned above) is a huge advocate of apple cider vinegar. This honey and vinegar combination gives a real boost to your immune system. You may find (as we have) that by drinking this tea/honey/vinegar blend every day, you can go cold-free for an entire winter season, or even an entire year! (Note: Celestial Seasonings makes a very good and reasonably priced rooibos tea. It can be found in most larger grocery stores.)

    If you have successfully treated your pollen allergies or colds with honey and/or honeycomb, we would love to hear from you. Post your comment on our Smiley Honey Facebook page, or send an e-mail to us at: info@smileyhoney.com



    Amazing Sense of Smell

    I was taking some pictures of our beeswax products, and this honey bee flew over to investigate. I am continually amazed by a bee's senses. Whenever we are washing empty honey barrels outside of our facility, dozens of honey bees will show up in a matter of minutes. Think about it -- with a brain the size of a grass seed, foraging honey bees can zero in on nectar, honey and beeswax in a flash. Recent research shows that honeybees can detect specific airborne molecules in the parts per trillion range.

    Dr. John Lieff published a fascinating piece about honeybee brains on his blog "Searching for the Mind" in November 2012.  Here are some highlights from Dr. Lieff's article:

    • bees use abstract thought and symbolic language
    • bees routinely solve the advanced mathematical problem of the travelling salesman
    • bees mix medication in the hive and know when a fungus is dangerous
    • bees distinguish landscape scenes, types of flowers, shapes and patterns
    • bees forage for information
    • bees learn categories, sequences, combinations and the changes of future rewards

    For the complete article, please go to: http://jonlieffmd.com/blog/the-remarkable-bee-brain-2

    Honeybee Prose

    And now you ask in your heart, "How shall we distinguish that which is good in pleasure from that which is not good?" Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower. But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee. For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life. And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love. And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.

    Excerpt from "The Prophet" by Kahil Gibran

    Photo Credit: Mike De Leo