Michael Caine’s famous epithet “and not a lot of people know that!” is a well worn phrase, trotted-out to support many spuriously factual exclamations.
As we approach St. Valentine’s Day, like the rest of us anyone involved with honey or beekeeping will be celebrating 14th February, but they won’t be marking the day with hackneyed Hallmark cards or desperately clichéd collections of red and gold foil-wrapped chocolates, for St. Valentine is the patron saint of Beekeepers.
And really, not a lot of people know that!
It is said that Saint Valentine was entrusted to ‘ensure the sweetness of the honey’, along with his other responsibilities to lovers, travellers and those suffering from epilepsy. Evidently a busy bee.
But St. Valentine is no the only saint associated with beekeepers and bees. St. Ambrose, St. Gobnait and St. Bernard all have similar distinctions.
The link between bees, honey, life and love is as old as history itself. Many cultures around the world celebrate love and union with the giving and receiving of honey either as a gift or as part of a betrothal ceremony.
Ancient Egyptians placed so much value in honey (or love?) that marriage agreements stipulated the groom should supply the bride with a yearly supply of twenty-four hins (roughly 15kg) of honey………if only Honeycombers’ R&R Club was around then!
Even today, honey can be found at the heart of many nuptial ceremonies from south east Europe, to the Middle East and the Asian Sub-Continent.
So really honey is the true food of love, and music can go whistle for it!
Whatever St. Valentine’s Day brings for you, spare a thought for the beekeepers who at this time of the year will be studiously monitoring the health of their colonies and preparing for the busy season ahead.
For without the beekeepers, we would have a little less honey to enjoy, so spread the love and support independent beekeepers as we remember them this Valentine’s Day.