To Our BEE-Loved Bees
Valentine's Day is synonymous with love, romance and chocolate dipped strawberries… and although the strawberry plant is somewhat self-pollinating, it flourishes courtesy of honeybee pollination.
Honey bees have historically been associated with love, so it is no surprise that St. Valentine was made the patron saint of beekeepers and bees in the third century.
Just look at the many references to honey and love throughout history... Greek legend tells us that Cupid dipped his arrows in honey... ancient Egyptian mythology tells us the tears of the sun god Ra became honeybees... honey has been a potent ingredient in making 'love potions' for hundreds of years... as well as mead, which is honey wine, drunk at a wedding party. After a couple got married they went on their 'honeymoon' which was to set the stage for a sweet and abundant union. Honey was prescribed as a virility medicine by Hypocrates and a bee sting was considered an aphrodisiac.
Here's a little 3:53-minute history lesson from Maddie Moate in the UK:
Back to St. Valentine, who lived in the Roman Empire... when the Roman Emperor banned marriages because he thought single men made better soldiers, St. Valentine was charged with secretly marrying lovers. He was found guilty and thrown in jail to await execution. He converted prisoners to Christianity and healed the eyes of the jailer-in-chief's blind daughter. Some say the two fell in love... a letter to the jailer's daughter was later found in Valentine's cell, signed 'your Valentine.'
To this day, many beekeepers around the world call on him to bless their honey crop with abundance and sweetness and to protect beekeepers and bees. St. Valentine was executed on February 14, which became his feast day and a day when people everywhere ponder the meaning of love.
Romance is one flavor of love, but not all unions are rooted in romance.
Take the mating ritual of a virgin Queen Bee and a hoard of drones from other hives… If there is any ecstasy in ‘the moment’ it is short-lived, as the drone is dismembered and usually dead-on-arrival when he hits the ground. But the drones have implanted in the Queen Bee the gift that keeps on giving… she is now an egg-producing machine, pumping out up to 2,000 eggs daily until she dies. Mr. Drone’s legacy and DNA live on, over and over again.
Bees are like fertility machines, birthing an abundance of new baby bees on a daily basis. Worker bees also pollinate flowers, like fertility goddesses that leave a trail of abundance, new life and new growth in their wakes…
Bees love plants that make sweet nectar. They also love the taste of nectar, and the honey it helps them produce. They love honey so much, they will rob it from other hives if their stock runs low.
Plants love bees, because bees pollinate them so they can survive… in this give and take relationship, which serves both parties, plants give bees exquisite nectar and bees pollinate a new round of flowers.
Humans love bees for producing honey almost as much as they love to eat honey. They also love the colorful beauty and delightful aroma of flowers.
Without bees, 1 of every 6 flowering plant species would not exist according to statistics. One bee pollinates tens of thousands of flowers a day, and a hive pollinates millions of flowers a day. Bees not only feed us, they color our world.
Here's a 3:02-minute video of bees pollinating sweet strawberries in the UK:
What can we do to show bees our love?
Bees love nectar-producing flowers. Consider acquiring some of these for your garden:
In Winter for late-flying and early-emerging bumblebees:
Crocus, Winter Heather (Erica carnea) and Hellebore
In Spring for early bumblebees and solitary bees:
Lungwort (Pulmonaria), Aubretia (Aubreta) and Bugle (Ajuga)
In Summer for all wild bees:
Foxglove (Digitalis), Borage, Catmint (Nepeta) and most herbs
In Autumn for a source of nectar when the cold moves in:
Dahlias (single-flowered), Ivy, and Bugbane (Actaea simplex)
The flowers listed above are just a few of many flowers that bees love in different seasons. Depending on where you live, choose and provide BEE-loved plants that are locally known to BEE-friendly. If you please your pollinators, you will receive much joy from watching them buzz around your garden.
Bees love bunches and clumps of flowers, not straggly sparse patches, so plant them in bunches. Bees love their flowers to be in sunny but sheltered areas. Give the plants plenty of water, especially in summertime or when it is unseasonably warm or dry, so they produce more nectar. Use water collected in a rain bucket if you wish. Place a bee bath of fresh water in your garden too, not far from the flowers. It is this easy to create the ultimate bee oasis.
Help a bee today by getting some nectar-rich flowers lined up for your spring garden, since spring is coming fast to a garden near you, along with a swarm of hungry bees that are tired of being confined all winter.
Bee Mission wishes you a Happy Valentines Day! We LOVE and appreciate our dear readers and we LOVE all BEE-loved bees.
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