Bees, medicine, stings and wild hives.
As far back as I can remember, I've been fascinated by bees and the incredible medicines that they offer. Honey, propolis, bee pollen, venom and royal jelly are some of the most potent natural medicines that nature provides. It's no wonder bee keepers are some of the longest living people on the planet! As you can imagine, I was nearly overwhelmed with excitement at the thought of introducing bees to our garden farm and watching them feed on the beautiful yellow flowers of our aloe plants.
Siwa has many wild bee colonies and its quite common to see hives in the roots of old olive trees. Over a year ago, I got in touch with a second generation bee keeper and literally begged him to give me a few hives and teach me the art of bee keeping. A few months ago, he randomly turned up at our garden farm with the hives strapped to the back of a tuk tuk and asked if I was ready to learn. Hell yes! Its been a steep learning curve ever since but I'm well on the way to fulfilling my bee keeping dreams.
Bee keeping has been practiced for thousands of years by cultures all over the world. It is an old tradition to enforce a couple of stings to children as a type of natural vaccination and keep honey as a first aid burn remedy (it does work a treat!). I didn't know much about bee venom treatment so I've been eager to learn. Apparently bee venom administrated through a sting can modulate the immune system and help correct imbalances which may contribute to immune dysfunction. Bee venom treatment, otherwise knows as apitherapy, is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, gout, MS and other immune disorders such as asthma.
Since I've been attending the bees, I've had my fair share of stings. I've been strapping fresh filleted aloe leaves onto any new bites which immediately calms the itching and inflammation. I've also found baking soda mixed with apple cider vinegar works a treat at neutralizing the sting and taking away the pain. My mentor assures me that with time, my body will hardly react at all. For now though, I'm happy to have my bee suit. Its surprising how much better angry bees look from inside this protection.
So far I've learned how to identify the queen bee, drones and workers, check for new brood, set up a hive, offer food during times of scarcity and leave enough honey for them to make it through the winter. I've been taught that when you deal with bees, you should be calm and collected, patient, careful and fearless. Seems like bee keeping is going to give me a lot more than just honey!