“The wild bee reels from bought to bough
With his furry coat and his gauzy wing,
Now in a lily-cup, and now
Setting a jacinth bell a-swing,
In his wandering… -- Oscar Wilde
By Cal Orey
Springtime Allergies and Vanishing Honey Bees
Allergy season is here, and stocking up on honey may be the cure. Beekeepers know that honey bees provide bee-healthy powers to help relieve a variety of symptoms, thanks to Mother Nature’s “nectar of the gods.” Drawing on the honey buzz, it is believed that honey may help you deal with pesky allergies, whether you live on the West Coast, East Coast, Midwest or Deep South.
Stop Seasonal Misery with Honey
Sneezing, a runny nose, and coughing can ruin an indoor or outdoor event, thanks to seasonal pollen. Every year when the yellow pollen arrives like an uninvited visitor at Lake Tahoe I hold a tissue in one hand and am on the phone to a pharmacist with the other. I am always on a mission to find a natural remedy to stop my sniffles.
Recently, I discovered eating a tablespoon of locally produced honey may be the cure. Proponents of honey tell me that your immune system will get used to the local pollen in it (it should be within a 50-mile radius from where you live).
By taking the honey cure, you may lose your allergy symptoms. It’s worth the effort and is less pricey than a visit to the doctor or allergist. Also, honey is a natural remedy and doesn’t come with unknown side effects linked to allergy medications or shots. One summer day, I looked outside and the Tahoe pollen was everywhere—on cars, trees and the ground. I started putting alfalfa honey (from Reno 50 miles away) in my tea and yogurt. A while later my misery was history. Whether it was coincidence or a honey cure doesn’t matter. It worked.
Why You’ll Bee Happy
If you have respiratory problems, from allergies to asthma, honey may enhance the immune system to build up a better arsenal against airborne allergens—and help you breathe easier. Honey enthusiasts like the Vermont Country doctor D.C. Jarvis, M.D., believe honeycomb is excellent for treating certain breathing problems. The honey prescription, according to him, was chewing honeycomb, which may line the entire breathing tract.
Also, eating honey on a daily basis was recommended. “As far as I have been able to learn, Vermont folk medicine uses honeycomb as a desensitizing agent; from the results obtained by its use it appears to be anti-allergic to its action,” Dr. Jarvis says giving kudos to the honey bees.
Beekeepers tell me that honey may help allergies linked to trees and ragweed—the culprit in hay fever and its irritating symptoms during spring months and often right before. As beekeepers are busy at work selling local honey to allergy sufferers, more research is needed to prove that the honey bee’s gift works.
Meanwhile, I’m not going to wait for scientists to go to their lab rats for a go-ahead. More honey, please. But while honey may be a sweet home cure for seasonal allergies, another bigger problem is, in the future honey may be scarce due to our vanishing honey bees.
Honey Bees and the Pesticides Peril
It’s no secret. Beekeepers across America, continue to witness mysterious die-offs of bee colonies. This condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), is a condition that causes honey bees to vanish without a trace—and recently research is pointing the finger at pesticides…
In 2013, researchers with European Food Safety Authority announced they had discovered peril to honey bees, pinpointing neonicotinoids. What’s more, some countries abroad have banned using neocnicotinod insecticides. Despite the scientists’ findings, two pesticide producers Sygenta and Bayer Crop Science beg to differ their products are the culprit. But note, the controversy continues…
Says Honey: The Gourmet Medicine author Joe Traynor, “The beekeeping community is split on whether or not the "new" neonicotinoid pesticides are a major cause of current bee problems, mainly CCD. Bayer is a major manufacturer of necnicotinoid pesticides and has been bearing the brunt of the criticism from beekeepers who believe that neonics are indeed a major problem. A smoking gun, however has yet to be found.”
The honey bee guru who runs a pollination (bee rental) and agricultural consulting service in California’s San Joaquin Valley adds, “There are about a million acres of canola (aka rape seed) in North Dakota, almost all of it grown from seed treated with neonics, yet bees do quite well on canola--no apparent problems. It is believed that the systemic neonics are diluted enough by the time canola flowers appear (or they dissipate in the plant) so that there is no bee hazard.”
Honey bee experts like Traynor will tell you that America’s bee scientists that have studied CCD include a variety of causes--varroa, viruses, nosema, malnutrition--to be the major contributing factors to CCD. He concludes “They do not exonerate neonics and still think they might be a factor in CCD-- they just haven't seen any proof (yet).”
Northern California researcher Randy Oliver (www.ScientificBeekeeping.com) adds his point of view on the honey bee and its demise. He says, “Some pesticides can result in delayed colony collapse--this has been documented for decades. Some have suggested a link between the new neonicotinoid insecticides and CCD, but no research has ever been able to establish such a link.”
Oliver also points out, “Every field study ever done has indicated that the neonics, when applied as seed treatments, do not cause colony losses. For the prime crops that are treated with neonic seed treatments (maize, soy, canola), the vast majority of beekeepers tell me that they do see problems, and that their colonies thrive around those crops year after year. So I'd have to say that neither scientific experiments nor beekeeper field experience support the hypothesis that the neonics are the cause of CCD.”
So, while researchers in the U.S. and Europe disagree about CCD and pesticides, the busy honey bee is vanishing. If the honeymoon is over, it will affect the honey industry, one third of our crops due to lack of pollination, and, of course, honey will be more scarce and pricey to help relieve springtime allergies.
Healing Honey Flavors Around the Nation
· Alfalfa: The nectar source is a legume with blue flowers, and alfalfa is noted as the most popular in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and the rest of the West. It is known as a versatile honey, and its proponents claim it is used to stave off allergies.
· Lemon: This tree grows in California, Florida, and Texas. It is nice paired with chamomile tea which can help soothe coughs and sore throats.
· Orange Blossom: Like other Californian honeys, this citrus favorite is found in Arizona, Florida, and Texas. Its nectar comes from a variety of citrus sources—all chock-full of immune-boosting vitamin C.