On Friday 11th March, Louise, Terry Lacey (former Meridian Treasurer) and I attended the funeral of Scott Peters, aged 95 years.
My association with him had begun on a Meridian course in 2005. ‘Scottie’, eight years my senior, was a character and my ‘bee buddy’ who I shared many happy, some good, some bad, hours, days and years learning about and keeping bees.
Both of us, being full of keen enthusiasm, found a common interest in making our own equipment, attending auctions, meetings and conventions.
After learning the correct way to keep bees on Alan’s introductory course, we were all told that we had passed and that I was lucky to have a mentor who lived just down the road (Louise) if I had any problems.
Sound advice I’m sure, but knowing that mentors are busy people, and call it pride but there is an embarrassment in thinking you’ve done something stupid!
Scottie and I were both retired so could visit each other to discuss daft mistakes we had made with the bonus that a morning’s discussions could be followed by a meal and a pint!
The sitting room chairs at Scottie’s house were sited next to a bay window where one could observe the entrances of a couple of hives, with tea and biscuits provided by Una, Scottie’s long suffering wife.
These observations would result in new ideas and plans to ‘improve’ our bees’ environment. Constructing new mesh floors, adapting entrances, larger brood boxes etc. The plans would be carried out in my workshop.
On one memorable occasion Scottie asked for my assistance in spinning his honey. I’d already done mine with my wife in our conservatory using a four frame manual hand spinner. Scottie had a superior model with an electric drive. He kept it in the corner of a 6’ x 8’ washroom, which also contained a sink and stack of supers with just enough room for two operators.
The outside wall had a 2’6’’ opening window. I was aware of a few insects sharing our space. As the frames were put into the extractor and spinning begun, the room got quickly darker as bees covered the window. The room was filling with bees wanting their honey back!
The little room was evacuated and the door firmly shut as we called for beesuits! It was decided to open the window to assist the bees exit. The vacuum cleaner was used. Time to retire for a cup of tea provided by Una, God bless her!
We were involved together in many other projects. Hive stands for Lainston House to site bees along the lime avenue for delicious green honey, construction of a dartington long hive, and latterly a change over to the Rose hive system.
One of Scottie’s last projects was to move his hives into a Beehouse made from a good quality shed sited in his daughter Sharon’s garden. This project ended when he got badly stung one evening and spent nine days in hospital.
Beekeeping with Scottie was always adventurous and never dull: we learnt a lot together and enjoyed every minute of it. He could be outspoken, even blunt on occasion. To me, as a close friend, he will be very badly missed and never forgotten.
Colin Bowsher, March 2022
Some more from Scott’s daughter, Sharon
Scott Peters 1927 – 2022.
Although born in Portsmouth, Dad was a country boy at heart and often talked with great fondness about living with the thatcher in Thrutxon as an evacuee.
One of the many things he remembered from his days with the thatcher was the importance of telling the bees.
I also remember Alan Jonhson demolishing this myth, telling us bees were deaf, although l do wonder if they pick up some pheromones from us standing by the hive?
upon retirement, Dad rebuilt a wooden folk boat and had some great adventures including sailing single handed to the Azores and back. This hobby came to a spectacular end, when after losing the rudder off Lulworth Cove he and I limped back to Portsmouth through the 2005 Trafalgar celebrations. We were promptly arrested by armed marines for entering the exclusion zone and then towed home.
After that, he was open to new ideas, where he could keep his feet firmly on the ground.
I had just started the Meridian introductory course, and after a couple of weeks he joined me and never looked back. He was deeply interested in the life and habits of bees, verbally sparring with Alan and enjoyed the intelligent, good humoured company of the association.
He learnt quickly and read widely. He was furious when he failed the BBKA basic exam, not through lack of knowledge, but because he had tried to cram all his answers into the spaces on the exam paper instead of in the answer booklet!
We worked out it was more than sixty years since he had last sat an exam so this was understandable but it still rankled!
Scott also hugely enjoyed the woodwork associated with bee keeping and quickly filled his shed, then mine, with hives, supers and frames, much to mum’s disgust. He was aways keen to try new ideas and for a while having three hives inside a shed, with individual plastic ducting entrances was very successful. Just watching the bees come and go, and identifying the pollen they were bring home gave him much pleasure.
As did visiting his hives at Monument Farm on Portsdown hill when the rape crop was in full bloom.
Another source of pleasure was his friendship with Colin, and their queen breeding enterprises. Many happy hours were spent planning, building and adapting equipment. Some interesting structures emerged, but as far as l know, no queens!
Scott was a very sociable, and relished the meetings, stewarding at the Royal Bath & West show and the guest lectures arranged by Meridian. Always happy to chat to everyone and share a joke.
Enjoyed too, were the trips to the New Forest for the heather season, the picnics and apiary meetings at Twyford.
When he retired from beekeeping at the age of 92, it was Meridian who helped me with the sale of his equipment. His bees and hives went next door to my generous neighbours and were put to good use. Sadly, they suffered colony collapse in 2020, and my neighbour complains the new bees do not have the gentle temperament of Scott’s bees. Coincidental? Who knows.
Our ‘drop in’ practical training day was held at the Botley Centre on Saturday 23 April. There were topics designed to appeal to newer beekeepers as well as other subjects for those with more experience. The idea was that members could drop in for the topics they wanted to learn about but in practice, most people stayed for the whole day.
The event started with some ‘beekeeping basics’ like using a cover cloth, feeding and pairing frames to assist with finding the queen.
Members then broke into smaller groups led by Louise, Denise and Robin. Artificial swarm techniques were demonstrated and participants had the opportunity to practice the manipulations for themselves. What to do when the queen cannot be found was also discussed.
It was interesting to see how each group leader demonstrated a slightly different technique, proving there are as many different ways to undertake each manipulation as there are beekeepers!
After coffee, there was the chance to learn about and practice the Bailey Comb change. The different techniques to be used on stronger and weaker colonies were demonstrated.
After a pizza lunch which included some delicious bakery from Louise (described by Chris Parker as “scrumptious goodies!”) we looked at the Shook Swarm technique.
The shook swarm is a vital manipulation. In January this year, the National Bee unit said ‘trails have shown that shaking bees onto new foundation and then destroying the old combs can be beneficial when controlling European foulbrood. This procedure is known as Shook Swarming and it may also be beneficial in controlling Nosema, chalk brood and Varroa mite populations. Colonies treated in this way often become the strongest and most productive in an apiary. Some beekeepers are now using this system to replace all the old brood combs in a beehive within a single procedure.’
The day was rounded off with a look at the Demaree method of swarm control, checkerboarding, making up a nuculus hive and the Miller queen rearing method.
Participants were each given a set of BBKA lamented cards summarising each of the manipulations discussed as well as information to help with the identification and reporting of the Asian Hornet.
Asian hornet traps were also distributed as part of a trail to assess slightly different designs of trap. Simon Fitzjohn has done a lot of work in this and we are very grateful to him for his efforts.
The event was an excellent learning opportunity and our thanks go to Louise for organising and presenting it and to Denise, Tony and Robin for their contributions.
Bee Disease Insurance Limited (BDI) provides insurance for the replacement of beekeeping equipment should it have to be destroyed due to an incidence of a notifiable disease such as European or American Foul Brood.
Public and product liability insurance is also provided through your membership via other policies. Registered, Partner, Honorary and Junior members are covered by the BBKA insurance policy which has a £10,000,000 limit of liability.
Who owns BDI?
Bee Disease Insurance Limited is run by beekeepers for beekeepers. The owners of BDI are the Participating Beekeepers’ Associations (BKAs) and their members. Each BKA holds one share which cannot be transferred. No dividends are paid. If the company is wound up, the assets would be disposed of in a manner approved by a special general meeting and calculated to benefit a majority of the general class of beekeepers in England and Wales. Bee Disease Insurance Limited uses part of its surplus to help fund research into bee health improvement. They are currently running a two year whole apiary shook swarm trail as a new method of controlling European Foul Brood.
What does BDI cover?
BDI compensates insured beekeepers for equipment losses where their bees are destroyed or treated under the Bees Act 1980, The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (England) Order 2006 and The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Wales) Order 2006, or any similar order in force at the time, for notifiable diseases, currently European Foul Brood (EFB) and American Foul Brood (AFB) by a Bee Inspector appointed by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA). There is a limited fund if Small Hive Beetle or Tropilaelaps arrives (see below). BDI is only available to beekeepers living in England and Wales.
How does BDI work with BBKA, WBKA, and the Bee Inspection Service?
BDI is independent, but works closely with them all. The majority of beekeepers insured by BDI are members of WBKA and BBKA but not all. The NBU Bee Inspectors diagnose and destroy or treat colonies and will certify the losses.
BDI encourages all Beekeeping Associations (BKAs) in England and Wales to become BDI members so their beekeepers can have the benefit of compensation. Even though some areas are considered to be low risk for foul brood, in reality it should be seen as a threat everywhere, as it appears regularly in unexpected areas. This could be as a result of infected stock movement not known to local beekeepers.
Who pays BDI?
It is a condition of membership that all BKAs who are BDI Members pay their subscription based on the number of beekeeping members they have. How each association collects their premiums is up to them. Some BKAs include it in their subscription, others as an add on. If the latter is chosen, there is no opt-out, so the BKA will have to pay it if the beekeeper does not. Premiums for additional colonies are also paid to the BKA.
BDI is included in my Meridian subscription – what am I paying for?
The basic payment to BDI is termed subscription and includes cover for up to three colonies. If you have more than three you should pay an additional amount, or you can make additions at any time if you expect your colony numbers to increase above the basic level of cover.
When increasing your level of cover, you should be aware that under the terms of the insurance, you are subject to the 40 day rule. The 40 day rule also applies if you are late with your subscription.
What is the 40 day rule?
The rule was introduced to protect all beekeepers and to stop beekeepers seeking cover only when they discovered they had Foul Brood. All subscriptions and premiums paid before 31 March will take effect immediately.
Any subscriptions and premiums paid after 31 March will not enjoy cover until 40 days after payment has been made to the local BKA. It is therefore sensible for the beekeeper to pay on time and to allow for any expected increase in the numbers of colonies during the season, (due to swarm control, collecting swarms, queen rearing etc).
How many colonies should I cover?
All colonies owned by a beekeeper must be covered; otherwise none are, even if only one colony is destroyed. Many beekeepers underestimate the numbers of colonies they might have during the active season, so BDI introduced a banding scheme to help ensure that beekeepers who collect swarms, make artificial swarms or nuclei during the season do not find themselves with inadequate cover.
If, for example, you normally run ten colonies but have the equipment and facilities to have more, you should consider paying the premium for the next band. The important thing when considering how many to cover is to make an accurate count of the starting number of colonies and then to add the plans, hopes and expectations of increase in the coming season.
Should all bees on a communal site be covered?
All colonies on a communal site (like an association apiary) must be covered with BDI taken out by the respective owners, otherwise none are covered.
A communal site is defined as a permanent or temporary apiary site, shared by two or more beekeepers. BDI consider that apiary sites on the opposite side of the same field are separate apiaries but if in the same garden would be communal, however each case must be considered on its merits. If in doubt, it is best to ensure that each beekeeper has cover and if not, then do not use the site.
Communal BKA sites normally have robust rules, so a check with the apiary manager is all that is required. If the BKA is a BDI member, then it is obliged to collect subscriptions and premiums from all its members so by default all users of the site have the opportunity to be fully covered, but it is still your responsibility to check.
How are the compensation rates calculated?
BDI does not offer compensation on a new for old basis. The compensation rates are based on 90% of the catalogue prices of a well-known major beekeeping equipment supplier in the UK. The maximum compensation payable to an individual is £2,500 in any one year of insurance.
I have been told my compensation claim has been reduced – why is this?
Compensation claims can be reduced for the following reasons:
* The combs and equipment are old and/or are in poor condition. This will be at the discretion of the Bee Inspector.
* If a claim has been made in both the previous two years, compensation will be reduced by 25%. – If claims have been made in all the previous three years, compensation will be reduced by 50%. – If claims have been made in all the previous four years, compensation will be reduced by 75%.
Am I still covered if I make a claim?
On the payment of a claim for any reason, or if a claim for colony destruction on account of Small Hive Beetle or Tropilaelaps is accepted, the number of colonies covered is reduced proportionately; ie, by the number of colonies destroyed.
If the number of colonies subsequently increases additional insurance must be obtained and will be subject to the 40-day rule.
Are Apideas or other mini-nucs covered?
Apideas are not included in the compensation rates and they do not have to be counted as a colony. No compensation is payable so no premiums are required to be paid in respect of mini-nucs.
Should a Nucleus Box be counted?
Yes. Any single colony containing standard frames, which are included in the compensation list, should be included. Each nucleus, whatever the size counts as one colony.
Why are top bars from TBH/Warre hives not covered?
Top bars are usually home made and the compensation rate includes the cost of foundation which isn’t normally used. This has been stated on the compensation rates section to avoid misunderstanding.
If I take swarms during the year will they be included?
If the swarm is collected with the intention of keeping and hiving it, then obviously it becomes part of your property and is counted as one colony. You must allow for this possible increase when calculating your dues. If, as often happens, you collect a swarm and before it is hived, pass it on to another member who is short of bees, it is the responsibility of the new owner to cover them.
I have just bought some bees that have foul brood – what do I do?
If they are likely to have been infected when you bought them, then you should claim from the seller. The National Bee Unit will probably inspect the seller’s apiary.
The banding means I insure for more colonies than I have – why?
Experience shows that a number of beekeepers consistently under-pay by not declaring all the colonies they actually have, or will have, or creep above due to normal increase. Sometimes this happens because they collect and keep a swarm, or have one given to them, which they did not expect to keep. It is to help beekeepers avoid this problem that banding was introduced. It seems to be working because the number of cases of underpayment has fallen significantly since banding was introduced.
Will the compensation be paid if I under-state the number of my colonies?
The scheme can only operate with members acting in good faith, so to knowingly under-pay is to breach the basis of trust on which the scheme operates. It means that other beekeepers have to pay more to make up for the premiums lost as a result of the under- payment. Consistent or intentional underpayment will result in any claim for compensation being rejected. Similar rules apply to most forms of compensation arrangements. The managers of the scheme have always dealt with cases on an individual basis, exercising discretion where appropriate.
Can I make suggestions to improve the scheme?
If a member BKA or beekeepers have ideas for improving the scheme please let BDI know. Provided they are practicable, do not contradict the registered rules of BDI Ltd and appear to be the wishes of the majority, then you can expect the Management Committee to consider the proposals. However, please remember that the Directors and Officers may be personally liable if BDI Ltd is not run on a sound financial and business-like basis. It is essential therefore, that beekeepers pay the correct dues for their colonies.
Can BDI cover for other risks?
Under their registration, BDI is unable to cover for other risks. Many risks the beekeeper may need to insure against will be covered by a household policy or by WBKA and BBKA policies.
Are the premiums I have paid secure?
BDI is regulated as an insurance company by the Prudential Regulatory Authority and supervised by the Prudential Regulatory Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority. As such it has to maintain sufficient solvency to be able to meets its likely claims based on policies issued. The company does not pay dividends, so all retained earnings are available to support the company’s activities.
Am I covered in respect of Small Hive Beetle and the Tropilaelaps mite?
The Directors have agreed that there should be a scheme in the event of these pests arriving in England or Wales. As with varroa, when they do arrive they may well become endemic and have to be managed as an element of routine beekeeping practice. Compensation for the destruction of honey bee colonies because of Small Hive Beetle and Tropilaelaps infestation is consistent with BDI’s founding principles, that a compensation scheme encourages beekeepers to come forward if there is any cause for concern. It was agreed in 2006 that BDI cover should be extended to compensate for the statutory destruction of colonies, hives and equipment on account of either Small Hive Beetle or Tropilaelaps infestations. A maximum amount of £50,000 per annum will be available to cover claims. Each eligible claim will be covered to a maximum of £150 per hive. This amount will be adjusted to take into account the condition of equipment (excellent – as new, good or poor, as certified by the Bee Inspector) providing the beekeeper is not otherwise insured or entitled to obtain compensation elsewhere. The amount will be calculated pro-rata between all claims in any year, so if they collectively exceed £50,000, each claim will be proportionately reduced. Settlement will be made after all claims for that year are processed. Should these pests become endemic and statutory control abandoned, then BDI compensation cover will cease.
I am a full registered member of two beekeeping groups, do I need to pay the basic BDI to both associations?
If both groups are members of BDI then you will have to pay the minimum subscription of £2 to both groups as it is a condition of being a member of each group. Both subscriptions cover you for 3 hives; therefore, if you have 6 hives, you do not need to insure for any additional colonies.
I keep my bees on a communal site. Are there any special considerations? All colonies on a communal site need to be insured with BDI for any claims to be paid. As all members of a BDI member group will be insured this should not be an issue if all the users of the communal site are members of your group. You should make sure that there is no-one using the site who is not a member of your group and therefore might not have BDI cover.
I know there are feral colonies nearby, will this affect any claim I might make? Provided the feral colonies are not on your apiary site (and therefore not likely to be under your control) then any claim will not be affected by their presence in the neighbourhood.
I am a Junior member of the BBKA. Do I need to pay BDI?
If you manage colonies with another full member of the BBKA (eg, your parent) who insures the colonies you jointly manage, then you do not need to pay BDI. This is the default position for your local association – not to charge you BDI as part of your subscription to the local group. If however you keep bees that are not insured by anyone else, then you should declare these hives to your local treasurer or membership secretary and pay the appropriate premium with your subscription. Your membership receipt will note the name of an adult who can act on your behalf in the event of any claim. This approach applies to both your BBKA and BDI subscription
This article is based on a Q&A produced by Bee Disease Insurance Limited. For further information including detailed reports on the research projects funded, please go to the BDI website.
Meridian and Meon Valley Beekeepers’ are pleased to invite you to our first joint venture, Bee Health Day on Saturday 2 April between 10.30 and 15.45 at Warnford Village Hall, SO32 3LB. The aim of the day is to improve our skills so we can keep our bees healthier.
There’ll be microscopes set-up with slides and advisers on hand to provide tuition on how to recognised Nosema and other common bee diseases.
You’ll be able to check a sample of your own bees for Nosema and you’ll have an opportunity to learn how to dissect bees to check for Acarine.
There will also be a flower and pollen microscope with talk and a bee anatomy and dissection demonstration by Master Beekeeper James Donaldson.
It should be a wonderfully informative and enjoyable event and of course, there’ll be refreshments throughout the day.
There’s free parking on site and transportation (from specific locations) is available for those who would find that more convenient.
Don’t panic! Most bees will show a few spores when tested.
Nosema needs controlling and here are a few simple things you can do to give your bees the best start in spring.
● Replace the brood box, floor and crown board with clean sterilised kit.
● Give your bees new foundation. You can undertake either a Bailey Comb change (for weaker colonies), shook swarm (for strong colonies) or any other method you normally use as part of your spring clean. New wax foundation usually invigorates the bees and gives them a good start in spring.
● You can add Thymol to your spring feed (1:1 sugar syrup) in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Thymol acts as a fungicide and is made from oil of Thyme. Some research has shown this treatment helps to reduce microsporidian spores. Please note however, Thymol is not an approved treatment for Nosema. You should also remember that Thymol can leave a residue in honey.
● HiveAlive is a complementary feed that is claimed to promote good health and well- being in bees stating that healthy bees are more able to fight diseases such as Nosema. Active ingredients are: Thymol, Lemon Grass and Oceashield seaweed extract. Hive Alive
● Try not to squash bees when doing an inspection. An infected worker bee can carry up to 50 million spores in its gut.
● Minimise bee stress. Take care during inspections not to over-smoke, keep the hive open too long or drop frames. Always take care to handle your bees as gently as possible.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to renew your Meridian membership. You can do so by clicking on the link we recently sent you.
Check your details are up-to date, then select the number of hives you are planning to run and the membership category you require (via the drop down menus) and your subscription will be automatically calculated.
The renewal link must be used for existing members. Please do not send your subscription without completing the online form as this may result in a delay to your membership. Any applications made after we have completed our return will result in a delay to your insurance cover and to the receipt of BBKA news.
Once you have submitted the online form, you can send your payment electronically to Meridian’s bank account as usual.
Meridian Beekeepers, Lloyds Bank, Bishops Waltham, 30-90-85, 00962116. Please use your surname as a reference.
New members and those wishing to rejoin
If your membership lapsed in 2021 and you would like to rejoin in 2022, please complete the application form: Membership application form 2022. This form can also be used for new membership applications.
The membership fees for 2022 remain unchanged and are as follows:
Full membership £38.00
Partner membership £17.00
Associate membership £16.00
Junior Membership £16.00
If you are considering joining Meridian for the first time or would like more information on what’s included in each membership category, please click here for a full explanation. Classes of membership and fees
Changes to British Beekeepers’ Association and Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association subscriptions
The BBKA has increased its 2022 subscription for full members from £19.00 to £21.00 and Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association (HBKA) is restoring its annual fee to £5.00 from £2.00 last year. As Meridian did not reduce your subscription in response to HBKA’s previous reductions, we’re are able to maintain your overall subscription at the levels of the past few years.
At the BBKA Annual Delegates Meeting on 13th January, 2022, HBA proposed two of the three most significant propositions discussed by over sixty associations at the meeting. Both propositions were passed by large majorities and are now therefore adopted as BBKA policy.
The first proposition reinforces BBKA’s opposition to the importation of honey bees. It was passed by 52 in favour and 12 against and is as follows:-
• In light of the great threat to the UK’s honey bees from the potential importation of non-native pests and diseases, BBKA re-affirms its complete opposition to the importation of honey bees, including individual queens, from overseas countries and the ADM mandates the EC to lobby the Government to introduce a complete ban on the import of honey bees.
The second proposition calls on the Government to prepare a comprehensive plan to counter the spread of the Asian Hornet across the UK when it arrives in large numbers within the UK. This was passed by 62 delegates with just two opposed :-
• The BBKA should continue to support the NBU in eradication of Asian Hornet incursions. BBKA should call on the Government to prepare a comprehensive plan by the end of June 2022 for the implementation of a wide scale monitoring and control programme to counter the spread of the Asian Hornet across the UK should the National Bee Unit resources be overwhelmed by Asian Hornet incursions.
HBA represents Hampshire’s beekeepers and its fourteen local associations at the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) Annual Delegate Meeting and can influence national policy on honey bees and beekeeping.
Meridian Beekeepers is delighted to present a talk about the threat of the Asian Hornet by Andrew Durham of Cambridge Beekeepers.
Andrew will describe the alarming situation in France where the Asian Hornet is damaging eco-systems and affecting everybody, not just beekeepers.
Andrew will explain the lifecycle of this invasive pest and the effects of predation on honeybee populations. He’ll also cover why there are more hornets in some years and why some areas are more infested than others.
Date : Sunday 20th March 2022
Time : 2-4pm
Venue: Botley Market Hall. Botley High Street, SO30 2EA
The event is free to all but please pre-register with Louise Evans at Louisewithbees@gmail.com. This is so we can keep an eye on numbers in these uncertain times and advise you of any last minute changes.
There is free parking at the Market Hall. If you are coming by train, it is a 15 minute walk downhill from Botley Station (there are no taxis there). There is also a bus stop outside the Market Hall. Botley is is on routes 3, 8, 8b and 26.
Andrew Durham is a Cambridgeshire beekeeper who has spent the last six years researching the Asian hornet. He had three main objectives;
* to understand the effect of the hornet’s predation on honeybees.
* to quantify the threat and to formulate a defence strategy building on the lessons learnt by our neighbours across the Channel since the Hornet’s arrival in France in 2004.
Andrew first became aware of the threat during travels in France. In 2015, realising that the hornet was on the verge of invading the UK, he became determined that he, and the UK generally, should benefit from the lessons learnt in France. Andrew regularly reports his findings in BBKA news.
The first sighting of an Asian Hornet in the UK was in 2016. Since then, there has been twenty confirmed sightings and ten nests have been destroyed. The last confirmed sighting was in 2021 in Ascot, Berkshire where the nest was located and destroyed. UK Government
There are links to more information on the Asian Hornet here.
Since the beginning of time, honey and bees have been associated with love. Honey, long considered the food of the gods and an aphrodisiac, is also the key ingredient of mead, the tipple of lovers; it’s not called a honeymoon for nothing! But honey’s romantic credentials go much further than that.
Valentine lived in the third century, when the Roman Empire was at its peak. At the time, it was thought that single men made better soldiers and marriage for them was banned. Valentine was found guilty of secretly marrying soldiers to their sweethearts.
While in jail, awaiting execution, he began to convert his jailers to Christianity. To prove his faith, the head-jailer asked Valentine to heal his blind daughter, which Valentine did by praying with his hands over her eyes. After his execution, a letter addressed to the jailer’s daughter was found in Valentine’s cell, it was signed ‘your Valentine.’
Most people know that St Valentine is the patron saint of romance, but did you know he is also the patron of beekeeping? He’s charged with ensuring the sweetness of honey and the protection of beekeepers.
Protector of Beekeepers
Bees symbolize love and beekeepers symbolize the protection of marriage and family. By managing their hives and caring for bees, beekeepers are said to ensure that bees flourish and honey continues to flow.
Keeping bees successfully is a special calling; it requires knowledge and experience, but it’s said it also requires a kind and gentle heart. To protect these protectors of bees, St. Valentine was made the patron saint of Beekeepers in 496A.D.
Then there is Cupid, the Roman god of desire and erotic love, he too had a taste for honey.
Drawing on the mythology of the Greek god of love Eros, Cupid is sometimes said to dip his arrows in honey before firing them at soon to be love-struck individuals, filling them with the sweetness of love. But beware, he could choose to dip his arrows in bile condemning his miserable victims to a lifetime of unrequited love.
The National Gallery’s collection includes the famous painting Cupid complaining to Venus by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
The picture shows Cupid complaining to his mother Venus having been stung whilst stealing honey from a hive. The moral of the story – you can’t have the sweetness of love without the danger of getting stung. You can read more about the painting at The National Gallery
Myths from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome highlight the powerful romantic effect bees have on humans; from Cupid dipping his arrows in honey, to Ra, the sun god; his tears becoming bees to help him woo back his lost love.
Before a wedding in some cultures, the bride and groom walk through a swarm of bees. If neither are stung, their love is meant to be. Anybody getting married this year?