‘And is there honey still for tea?’ The famous lines of Rupert Brooke conjure up images for us of log fires and toasting crumpets - a comforting thought in the depths of winter and season of snuffles! Our favourite remedy for a cold is a scoop of Granny Gothards - probably our crystallised ginger - followed by the juice of a small lemon, generous spoonful of honey and a slug of whisky in hot water. Honey is comforting in so many ways. It has been shown to have a number of health benefits and in the relieving of cold symptoms, it forms a protective layer in the throat apparently. After all honey was used in days gone by to heal wounds. Clever bods, those bees and don’t you just love the fact their produce comes in useful, edible containers, beeswax? Honey in a comb was found in an Egyptian tomb and was still fine to eat!
Equally wonderful is the way bees communicate when they have found a particularly good source of the nectar they use to make honey. (Did you know it is an enzyme in the bee’s saliva that turns nectar into honey?). They come back to the hive and do a little jive known as the ‘waggle dance’ which indicates the direction of the prized flowers. And all the time they are collecting their precious nectar, they are pollinating the plants we rely on for our food. It has been said that if they all disappeared from the planet we would have four years before we started to suffer serious food shortages. Of course at this time of year the bees stay inside and keep warm in what’s called a ‘winter cluster’, another great idea. Bees on the outside of the huddle stay almost motionless but those in the middle can move around a bit. There is something to be said for all gathering together and supporting each other when times are hard.