Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Rant on Bees

Welll not on bees, but a rant about bees.

Honey is a miracle food. Packed with nutrition, it is also anti-biotic and anti-viral. It's been used as a dressing for wounds, with pretty much the same results as capsicum cream. Wounds heal faster, without infection, and scarring (anecdotally) is minimized.

The human race uses enormous amounts of honey. It's almost as high on the sweetening list as sugar and where sugar is rare it's higher. Every culture in the world (well, every culture I've studied) uses honey.

Honey is made by bees. So, without bees, there is no honey. Duh.

And the bees are dying. Honeybees in particular are becoming an endangered species. I seldom see them anymore in my garden, although the hornets and wasps are thriving...

But that's not the point. The bees are dying. People scream because they don't know why, but if they thought about it it would make perfect sense. So three points to prevent this from being a VERY long post.

1 Honey is bee food. Professional beekeepers take the honey to sell and feed their bees sugarwater, as if this makes up for the lack. Then they feed the bees antibiotics when the hive fails because of malnutrition.

2 Breeders keep Queen bee hives to breed queens for captive hives. They sell these queens to beekeepers across the world. In a wild hive, the first emerging Queen kills all her unhatched rivals, thus eliminating the competition and the weakest genes. Breeders make sure that all the queens survive. They then sell these weakened strains, the second generation queens hatch and swarm into the wild, passing on the weakened strains to the wild hives.

3 People (in general) don't like bees around, so when they find a wild hive they either destroy it or call a beekeeper to come get it, thus perpetuating the cycle and ensuring that those bees will work all summer for their honey only to see it stolen and be fed on sugarwater.

In essence the problem is not the bees--it's the people, as usual. I guess bees are just insects, in most people's minds, and can be exploited into oblivion without consequence. When there aren't any bees to pollinate the crops, just hire a hive. And when the hives are all gone? Then what?

It's closer than most people think.

Maybe a rant on the responsibilities of humans to domesticated animals would be in order.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Maybe a cold

I had a nasty headache yesterday, and this morning my throat is a little sore. I think I caught something from my nessies (nieces and nephews, for those who don't understand my shorthand) so right now I'm taking honey and garlic.

Both have anti-biotic and anti-viral properties. Usually when I start feeling sick I go to the honey and garlic (which leads to a rant on bees, but that's not for this post) to take it out before it takes me out. I'll take a clove of garlic and a spoonful of honey every day for about the next week.

It usually works. It's when I forget to start taking my "medicine" at the beginning that colds are a problem. Once the thing settles in, it's harder to get rid of.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I did a batch of pickles yesterday, with less than a week's worth of cucumbers, including the "siamese" cucumber. Two of them grew together.

During the summer I eat a lot of fresh food. Cucumbers, zuccinni, tomatoes, onions, beets, fruit from the trees, carrots, potatoes. My herb garden is going crazy so I have fresh basil and mint, sage and thyme.

I think the hardest part of summer is the transition from "fresh" to "winter" in terms of diet. For close to six months I'm eating real food, not something that's been processed to death for the sake of profit.

There is no comparison between a potato right out of the ground and one of those gray things they sell as potatoes in the supermarket. Fresh potatoes eaten with butter--they need nothing else.

Then suddenly it's gone, and I can feel the difference. What they call "produce" in the stores is a pale shadow of the real thing, short on vitamins and minerals, grown on chemical fertilizer in played-out soil that's been used and reused for years.

It's no wonder that people are always sick during the winter. I've tried growing plants inside during the winter, but it never works. I'll keep trying because I want fresh during the winter, too.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A few facts about herbs

1 Valerian is NOT related to Valium

2 There are interactions between pharmaceutical drugs and herbs

3 Herbs are no more safe in large doses than pharmaceuticals

4 "Herbal" refers to the above-ground portion of any plant

5 Many substances referred to as herbs are in reality roots

6 Plants are annuals (live one year), bi-annuals (live two years), or perrenials (live more than two years)

7 Many bi-annuals are in reality perrenials but they reach their highest potency in the second year

8 Dividing the root of many perennials will create new plants which are clones of the parent plant

9 Plants breathe in and out, just like we do

10 In the winter, all the nutrients from a perrenial are stored in the root. Therefore, the winter or early spring is the best time to harvest roots

11 By harvesting the root you actually kill the plant--no more next year