Keeping Honey Bees for Survival
By: Michael Jordan,
“The BEE Whisperer”
Why Keep Honey Bees
Wandering into the woods and staying lost for months is something I love to do. I have been an Urban Guerrilla Survivalist for 24 years, and have been keeping bees for more than 10 of those years. With these experiences under my belt, I have begun to teach people how to be a survivalist, and one subject I focus on is the art of beekeeping.
Before I tell you the benefits of having bees and some cheap ways to keep them, I suggest that you find a book about beekeeping to help you understand the terms I use and show you more details on how to keep bees for the long haul. One of the best books I have read is ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture by A. I. Root. I also suggest that you try to find some beekeeping courses in your area—not only to learn more about it, but to connect with peers and mentors. If you reside in Wyoming, I often offer courses through my company, A BEE Friendly Company—details can be found on the business’ Facebook page. And, for my disclaimer, you should also research your local and state laws on beekeeping.
Apis mellifera, more commonly referred to as the honey bee, is one of the most beneficial insects in the world. Did you know that we have the honey bee to thank for one third of all the food we eat? Why, without the honey bee, we would mostly eat rice, wheat, and corn instead of the wonderful variety of fruits, vegetables, and nuts we enjoy every day. Not only do honey bees help make more food from pollination, they make a wide variety of products as well.
The most recognizable product, honey, is a sweet food made by bees from the nectar of flowers. Aside from its common use in sweetening teas, honey is used to treat burns and other wounds to prevent infection, alleviate allergies and use in IVs for blood transfusions. It is also well known as a key ingredient in king’s mead, honey wine and man’s first alcoholic beverage. It is great for cooking in place of sugar, and has more nutritional value than cane or corn sugar. Honey has an endless shelf life when stored at room temperature in a sealed container. (Raw honey was found in some of the ancient Egyptian tombs….still sweet and unspoiled). Most raw natural honey crystallizes, providing the survivalist with an endless supply of sugar that never goes bad.
Bee pollen, or pollen from flowers that is collected by bees during pollination, is harvested and used to fight allergies and treating mild cases of hay fever. Medications that use pollen include Claritin (loratadine), Benadryl (diphenhydramine), and chlorphenamine. Pollen is a great source of carbohydrates and is used to provide athletes energy boosts.
Propolis, a resinous mixture that honey bees collect, relieves inflammation, viral diseases, ulcers, and superficial burns or scalds. It is also believed to promote heart health, strengthen the immune system, and reduce the chances of cataracts. Old beekeepers recommend that a piece of propolis be kept in the mouth as a remedy for a sore throat.
Beeswax, a natural wax produced in the hive, has long been called the ancient man’s plastic, and is used as such today. Common products you see beeswax used in include body creams, coating for cheeses, cosmetics, fine candles, furniture and shoe polishes, modeling materials to create jewelry and sculptures, pharmaceuticals, among hundreds of other items. It is often mixed with other ingredients such as olive oil (sweet oil) and sometimes paraffin. For hundreds of years, beeswax was used as a sealant or lubricant for bullets in cap and ball, and firearms that use black powder. Beeswax was also used to stabilize the military explosive Torpex, before it was replaced by a petroleum-based product.
Apitherapy is the medical use of bee products—most commonly associated with bee venom therapy, which uses bee venom in the use of health conditions. The active component of bee venom is melittin, which has a powerful anti-inflammatory action. Bee venom is a complex mix of a variety of peptides and proteins, some of which have strong neurotoxic and immunogenic effects. The most well-known bee venom therapy is for autoimmune diseases and multiple sclerosis. Bee venom therapy is also used to treat arthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, dissolving scar tissue (keloids), and herpes zoster, among other illnesses.
As you have just read, the benefits of keeping honey bees for products and pollination is infinite. Not only can you use these products yourself, you can sell them to make money at local farmers markets or boutiques, or barter with clans around the woods. I recommend keeping three to five hives at your home or survival camp. The benefits of the honey bee can not be matched for the survivalist.