Albert Einstein was famously misquoted claiming: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.” While the quote might not be written in stone, the main gist remains the same and bees need our help now more than ever, according to AngelaWoods from the London Beekeepers’ Association (LBKA).
Bees pollinate a huge portion of the crops that feed the world’s population; it’s estimated it would cost at least £1.8 billion a year to replace bee services with pollination in the UK. Yet due to agricultural changes the UK’s bee population is declining at an alarming rate with wild honey bees nearly extinct in many parts of the country and solitary bees dropping by 52 percent of the areas studied.
People are now more aware about the need to keep bees but 34 percent of people take it on without training Angela says. “It’s crucial to get trained and learn the important techniques to make sure bees don’t swarm especially in urban areas,” she says. “We picked up a swarm recently in Piccadilly Circus and that wasn’t a pretty sight; when you have human beings and bees living in close proximity, education is key.”
The LBKA trains and educates beekeepers in recognising diseases in bees, administering treatments and learning to take honey where there’s enough. It also has a strong pro-forage message, encouraging everyone –not just beekeepers- to plant for the pollinators across London. “The overall subject of bees in London is challenging but we’re doing well. The number of managed bee colonies in London has doubled in the last four years,” she says. “Our bees are in good health, hives are high but we’re very busy harnessing public interest in pollinators.”
Whether you keep hives or not, everyone is a bee-keeper, Angela says. “Everyone can do their bit by using their patch of land to plant some nectar rich flowers.”
The health benefits of honey are more anecdotal than proven, however fresh honey will always have an advantage over generic brands, Angela claims. “Supermarket honey is a blend of honeys, but London honey has 82 pollen sources on average. It’s a pure and fresh product and you can’t beat it.”
The LBKA will be in the Farm Zone at the Lambeth Country Show on July 20-21 with an observational hive to the show and running educational talks. They’ll give out free packs of pollinator-friendly seeds and be selling honey as well as candles, soaps, polishes, and other honey-related products.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF HONEY
Prevent cancer and heart disease
Honey contains flavonoids, antioxidants which help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease.
Fight the effects of a hangover with honey. Honey is gentle on the stomach and contains a mix of natural sugars like fructose, which is known to speed up the oxidation of alcohol by the liver, acting as a sobering agent.
Drinking warm water with lemon and honey on an empty stomach first thing in the morning is the main component of most detox programs. Doing this on a daily basis is one of the best ways to cleanse the liver, remove toxins and flush fat from the body.
Ease a sore throat
Thanks to its antimicrobial properties honey has long been known to soothe throats and kill bacteria that causes infection. Professional singers commonly use manuka honey to soothe their throats before performances.
Reduce ulcers and other gastrointestinal disorders
Recent research shows that honey treatment may help disorders such as ulcers and bacterial gastroenteritis.
Increase athletic performance
Ancient Olympic athletes would eat honey and dried figs to enhance their performance. Modern studies show that honey is superior to other sweeteners in maintaining glycogen levels and improving recovery time.