Gifts of the Honeybee
by Rachel Snow, CH
The acclaimed writer and philosopher Rudolf Steiner has said, “Our very lives depend on bee-keeping, everyone should be interested in keeping bees.” – and I couldn’t agree more!
Our honeybees are in serious need of protection. You’ve probably heard of “colony collapse disorder” all over the media. Due to massive use of pesticides, the growing popularity of GMOs, and the widespread practice of monoculture farming, our honeybees are left with few options in terms of sustaining their species. Unfortunately, their current fate is either running out of food, or to suffer being poisoned to death. Both grim, neither ideal.
Colony collapse is real, and it’s serious. In 2006 we lost 5 million colonies in the U.S. This number has been steadily increasing by 30% every year since. In 2012-13 alone the USDA reported we lost half of the United States’ honeybee population! So what does this mean? If we lose our bees, we lose our food.
We depend on the honeybee for 40% of all our food. To put that in reference: two out of five bites of food you eat, you would not consume if not for the work of the honeybee.
So what can you do to help? Along with petitioning the banning of GMOs and the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, there are a few ways you can help.
- Get involved! Support local beekeepers, or become an urban beekeeper yourself. For more information visit: http://coloradobeekeepers.org/ (and don’t forget to report any swarm sightings to your local swarm hotline – NOT to the exterminator! Visit: http://www.bouldercountybeekeepers.org/swarms/)
- Buy organic produce; vote against pesticides with your dollar.
- If keeping bees just isn’t in the cards for you, you can still help them in a huge way: Grow your very own bee paradise!
Here are the top 5 bee loving plants around … and they also happen to be herbal medicinals!
When planting your bee garden you want to choose plants with the most bang for the pollen- so think: as many tiny individual flowers clumped into one plant as possible. For example: plants in the mint family are very popular with the bees.
Lemon Balm – Melissa officinalis The Latin literally translates to “Honey Bee, from the office of” – meaning it was formerly in the official Pharmacopoeia or register of medicinal substances in Britain and the U.S. Because Lemon Balm is a mint, this plant will grow vigorously – so be careful where you plant her. Lemon Balm is also an excellent nervine, and taken as a tea can be helpful with depression, anxiety, and calming the nervous system!
Lavender – Lavandula officinalis Lavender is also a vigorous grower, but will do well in a pot. Like Lemon Balm, she is calming to the nervous system and is antimicrobial.
Catnip – Nepeta cataria Excellent with fevers, for calming children, and for settling a nervous stomach. Catnip increases circulation, and relaxes the mind (PS: your cat will love it too).
Fennel- Foeniculum vulgare A tasty addition to salads and curries, but also great for digestion! Fennel helps relieve gas and cramps, a property known as ‘carminative.’
Echinacea- Echinacea spp. Classically known as and immune-enhancing herb, Echinacea is also a powerful topical wound healer!