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The History of Beekeeping

LLangattock Apiaries Bees and Honey

Beekeeping is one of the oldest forms of food production dating back as far back as 13,000 BC. The history dates back to ancient Egypt.  Hive beekeeping was well established before the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43.

According to history beekeeping was practiced for the harvesting of honey, which is the mainstay of a beekeeper’s financial sustenance.  Other items that are harvested from honey are royal jelly and propolis, which were derived for the use of medicinal purposes.  The use of beehive products has changed little since ancient times.

Many different kinds of bees were brought over from places in Europe and even as far as New Zealand.  Until relatively recently beekeeping was a hobby and not a means to make a living that was primarily done by farmers or relatives of a farmer who lived in a rural community where you could set up a bee farm and maintained it from time honoured traditions passed down through the generations.

Why Are the Hives Shaped Like A Honeycomb?

In many different cultures, beekeeping was done to produce honey and beeswax (which was used in candle making and other products), but when an American scientist named L.L. Langstroth took beekeeping to the scientific level in 1851 he innovated the bee space and the removable hive frame. It wasn’t until 1857 that it was discovered that bees could be manipulated into building a straight frame hive by providing them with some wax for a foundation.  Bees would proceed to use the wax foundation to build a honeycomb the octagon-shaped holes that were used to store larvae and later honey once the bees had developed and hatched.  

Over the next few years’ different techniques had been developed to continue modernizing beekeeping, but the most practical invention wasn’t until 1873, which was the smoker, which was a helpful safety device for many beekeepers.  Beekeeping is an art form, which takes a lot of time and practice to master because a skilled beekeeper will learn everything there is to know about beekeeping.  Essentially you will be schooled into this way of life so that everything about beekeeping is like second nature to you so you basically eat, sleep, and breathe the art form of beekeeping.

Passing On Beekeeping To The Next Generation

Beekeepers have a term called Apiculturists because that’s what the Department of Agriculture calls them when they’re categorized for what they do.  People who are Beekeepers are just small offshoots of the agriculture world since it’s pretty much a world of their own with the fact that what they do began as a hobby had slowly transformed into a way of life for people to earn a living at.  People who decide to become Beekeepers that are knowledgeable in biology and entomology can prove to be valuable to the beekeeping market for those who are trying to improve even innovate and create their own unique system of beekeeping which can be passed down to up-and-coming beekeepers who want to learn how to do successful beekeeping.

In summary, beekeeping is a really old tradition that is being kept alive by people who are passionate about bees and keeping them.

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9 Unexpected Uses for Honey

9 Unexpected Uses for Honey

What Are The Amazing Uses of Honey?

When you have a sore throat or a cough, honey is one of the best and tastiest, salves that nature has to offer.

The first record of beekeeping dates back to 2400 B.C. in Cairo.  For millennia, cultures around the world, including the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans and the Chinese have fallen for the sweet substance.  All of these cultures used it both in medicine and in the kitchen.

Honey is commonly used as a sweetener. It’s made up of 70–80 percent sugar; the rest is water, minerals and protein.  It’s also used to alleviate allergies, but honey has many other uses.  Surprisingly, many of the conditions that honey is used to treat are far more serious than the simple sore throat.

1. Burns

Honey has been used as a salve to heal burns and prevent infections for thousands of years, according to the Mayo Clinic. Results also show that honey may reduce burn healing time.

A trusted study compared honey to a silver sulfadiazine dressing for burns and found that honey makes wounds sterile in less time, enhances healing and doesn’t leave as much scarring as the other treatment.

2. Memory

Some say honey can improve both short and long-term memory, especially in menopausal and postmenopausal women. In one study postmenopausal women who were given tualang honey treatments for several weeks saw as much improvement in their immediate memory as women given hormone therapy of oestrogen and progestin.

3. Herpes

Research conducted in Dubai shows that honey is an effective topical treatment for both oral and genital herpes.  Honey can heal lesions from herpes just as quickly as ointments you find at a pharmacy and it’s even better at reducing itchiness.

4. Diabetes

Honey has a lower glycaemic index than sugar, which means it won’t spike your blood sugar levels the way that sugar will.  Honey also has a sweeter taste than sugar and may help you use less sweetener on foods.  This makes honey a better option than sugar.  In one study, researchers found that swapping honey for pure sugar is an effective way to keep blood sugar levels steady.

5. Cancer

Honey is celebrated for its antioxidant properties, which causes many to wonder if it can help prevent or treat cancer.  A 2011 study from Iran looked at how honey affects renal cell carcinoma, a type of kidney cancer. The researchers found that honey is effective in stopping cancer cells from multiplying and they concluded that it warrants further study as a cancer treatment.

6. Haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids cause itching and pain in the anus, as well as blood in the stool.  They are never fun.  If you’re looking for a home remedy, honey might fit the bill.  A pilot study using a mixture of honey, olive oil and beeswax as a topical treatment found that the mixture significantly reduced pain and itching, as well as bleeding.

7. Wounds and ulcers

Honey has been used to dress wounds for centuries, but does it work better than gels and compresses?  The research is mixed, but certainly not against honey.  The Mayo Clinic says that honey can sterilize wounds and promote healing and also reduce pain, odour and wound size.  It can also treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria and long-term ulcers and wounds after surgery and from burns.

Other researchers agree that it can be effective, or even superior, to other wound dressings, but it all depends on the wound.  For deep cuts and wounds, it may delay healing time.  You should only use honey for these treatments after you’ve seen a doctor.

8. Fertility

Honey has been lauded for its potential to boost fertility in both men and women, but the evidence is mixed.  Two separate studies using rats, conducted in Nigeria in 2013, give very different results.  While one showed that honey increases the sperm count of male rats, the other showed that too much honey can have a negative effect on fertility in rats.  More research needs to be done.

9. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes redness, blisters, itching and even lesions. It’s usually treated with topical creams that contain corticosteroids or vitamin D, but honey may be more effective.  This study once again uses a mixture of honey, olive oil, and beeswax, finding that most participants with psoriasis experienced a reduction in redness, scaling, and itching.

The Conclusion

Honey can have some surprising uses.  With a low glycaemic index, it’s a good substitute for sugar and can help you monitor blood sugar. But if you want to use it medically, like applying it topically to wounds and irritated skin, make sure you speak to your doctor prior to use.

 If you would like to order some natural raw honey go to www.llangattockapiaries.co.uk

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The Benefit of Borage Honey

Borage Benefits of Honey

Borage honey has a distinct taste that many find delicious. The plant itself is widespread and used in both traditional and modern medicine. As for beekeeping, this flower provides high amounts of pollen and nectar for the worker bees to gather. The plant also goes by the following names:

  • Blue Borage, or Starflower (English)
  • Bourrache officinale (French)
  • Borragine (Italian)
  • Borretsch (German)
  • Borraja (Spanish)
  • Purasruoho (Finnish)
  • Limba mielului (Romanian)

It has other names too, depending on where in the world you find it, but it’s still the same plant.  This is generally a light, delicate honey loved in Europe with porridge or in tea, though there are lots of other ways to pair it with foods too.  It’s perfect when drizzled over berries or ice-cream.  The pure borage honey is clear, runny and incredibly moreish. It’s also slow to crystallize when kept at room temperature or above.

This is perhaps one of the sweetest of all the honeys, making it a great alternative sweetener to table sugar.  If you keep borage honey in the refrigerator it sets to a chewy texture, which makes it a bit more like toffee than honey. This cool chewy texture is a favorite with kids.

The Medicinal Properties of Borage

Bees love the borage plant, but they’re not the only ones.  People also use the plant for its medicinal properties.  Its main use is as an herbal, homeopathic and allopathic medicine. One popular use is to help alleviate depression.

The honey carries many of the same health benefit claims as the oil derived from the same plant. Some of these include the following:

  • Eases grief and sadness
  • Brings out courage and offers comfort
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Helps with hyperactive gastrointestinal disorders
  • Helps ease respiratory disorders
  • Helps with cardiovascular disorders
  • Contains anticancer properties
  • Treats pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Helps with menopause symptoms including hot flashes

A 1999 report in Bee World, wrote how borage is so attractive to bees that it’s become a popular plant for people to grow as a way to invite bees into their gardens.  You can read more on the science and popularity of borage at Science News.

Bees, Borage, Farmers and Honey

The borage oil makes the borage plant a worthwhile crop for farmers.  This is great news for beekeepers.  They get to benefit from fields of this beautiful flower, which lasts for about eight weeks.  This is a perfect example of a mutually beneficial relationship. In this case, the beekeepers get lots of honey and the farmers get increased yields because the bees pollinate their crop. The nectar and pollen these flowers produce is huge, compared to many other species.

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The Benefits of Honey Fighting Covid

Honey Fighting Covid

The prospects of honey in fighting against COVID-19: pharmacological insights and therapeutic promises. (Taken from an article June 2020)

Honey and its various ingredients have been in limelight as an effective natural therapy capable of normalizing the situation by attenuating acute inflammation through encouraging immune response. Several studies have proved its potential healing capability against numerous chronic diseases/conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, autophagy dysfunction, bacterial and fungal infections.

More importantly, honey showed its virucidal effect on several enveloped viruses such as HIV, influenza virus, herpes simplex, and varicella zoster virus. Honey can be beneficial for patients with COVID-19 caused by an enveloped virus SARS-CoV-2 through simultaneously boosting the host immune system, improving comorbid conditions and antiviral activities. Moreover, a clinical trial of honey on COVID-19 patients has been undergoing. In this review, we summarized the potential benefits of honey and its ingredients in the context of antimicrobial activities, numerous chronic diseases, and host immune system and thereby tried to establish a relationship with honey for the treatment of COVID-19.

This review will be helpful to reconsider the insights into the potential therapeutic effects of honey in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. However, the effects of honey on SARS-CoV-2 replication and/or host immune system need to be further investigated by in vitro and in vivo studies.

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Honey and Honey Bees

Honey bees spend their entire life pollinating flowers and making honey. Bees use pollen that they gather from flowers to create honey that the bees use to feed themselves. Beekeepers are responsible for removing the honey from the bees and using for human consumption.

After the beekeeper has collected the honey from the bees, removed the wax caps that the bees use to seal the honey in the honey comb and extracted the honey from the honeycomb it’s time to process the honey.

Not all beekeepers have process their honey.  Unprocessed honey is marketed with words like raw, unfiltered and natural printed on the label.  The words are different words to say unprocessed.  Beekeepers that choose to process their honey, should have it done as quickly after extracting the honey as possible.  The act of processing honey is making sure that the honey is heated and filtered.  Processing honey is a sticky and hot process, it is important that the person is patient and diligent.  The area where the processing is taking place should be kept clean and free of insects.  Before you start processing the honey crop make sure that all your equipment is dry.  Honey absorbs water.  Honey that has too much water in it will ferment.

Experienced beekeepers can look at a vat of honey and tell you what type of flower the worker bees were attracted to when they were gathering pollen.  They can do this by looking at the honey’s colour.  The type of flower the bees collected pollen from also affects the honey’s flavour.  Other factors like soil quality and honey comb quality can change the flavour of the honey.  On the average, lighter coloured honey has a milder flavour than darker coloured honey. There are approximately three hundred different varieties of honey produced in the UK and United States.

The plugs that bees use to seal honey into the honey combs can be used to make bee’s wax candles.

For the health conscious, honey is a great substitute for white sugar.

Honey that is still in the honeycomb has a more natural flavour then honey that has been extracted.  Extracted honey works best for flavouring teas and cooking.

Fans of natural healing have always been big fans of honey for medicinal purposes.  It is believed that honey is an excellent way to soothe sore throats, can help regulate blood pressure, burns, pressure wounds and infectious wounds.  Honey has been used by Chinese apothecaries to soothe aches and pains.  The Egyptians favoured using honey when they were treating wounds.  Even the Greeks and Romans left behind literature that spoke of the medicinal benefits of honey for curing various forms of illnesses.

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Why Honey?

Honey is a superfood

Honey is 100% natural.  It is healthier than sugar, nutritious, sustainable, versatile and delicious. 

Honey can even help prevent hay fever, it is naturally antibacterial and is a source of minerals.

Humans have been eating honey for thousands of years.   It’s a natural sweetener.

You should eat honey, too.

Local honey is better for you

Llangattock honey is made by bees who gather nectar from the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park. 

They make wildflower honey because wildflowers grow right outside the hives; in the surrounding fields, on the banks of the River Usk, and on the slopes of the Black Mountains which overlook them.

The honey they make contains traces of pollen; if you eat it, it acts like a vaccine, making your body more resistant to hay fever.

Local honey is better for the environment

A thriving local bee population is essential for our environment. 

The bees pollinate plants around us, promoting biodiversity in our countryside, and keeping our hedgerows and fields healthy and fertile.

Only locally produced raw honey has these benefits; buying from a supermarket isn’t the same.  Mass-produced honey can be blended and filtered in ways which break the link with local flowers and lower the nutritional value.

We have 250 hives in Llangattock, Bwlch and on the slopes of Sugarloaf Mountain.

The bees are tended by Anthony Smith, who has been keeping them for six years.  Anthony says, “We like to think that if you taste our honey, you get a taste of the wildflowers and heathers which surround us.  We do very little to it; it is straight out of the hive and into the jar within 24 hours. What could be more local than that?”

If you buy Llangattock Honey, you will get the best flavour, the highest nutritional content, the very best of what is around you. Buy local, buy Llangattock Honey.