If you were to take a look at my bee resume you’d get a small glimpse of all the different types of research-themed pies I had my fingers in over the years. Back in 2007, Dr. Karol Mathews made multiple visits to the University of Guelph Honey Bee Research Centre to purchase our raw honey. I almost instantly developed a nerd-girl crush on Dr. Mathews, and wanted to find out exactly what she was doing with all this raw honey she was buying on behalf of the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). As soon as I found out, my almost-crush was then upgraded to absolute. Dr. Mathews (who told me to call her Karol) was using the raw honey as a topical antibiotic/medication for drag and burn victims that would come into the OVC.
A camera crew came to the Bee Lab to shoot a video about all this one day in early April 2008. Even though you can’t see me directly, I made a point of being in view, or at least in the background. The following video has some graphic scenes, and the beginning to around the 6:50 minute mark shows several shots of burn victims and open wounds…and might not be for the squeamish.
The Bee Lab action starts at 6:52, with me in the shot over Paul’s right shoulder at 8:48. I believe Dr. Mathews is on to something so simple and accessible to pet-owners and veterinarians alike (the human applications are endless too!). There are almost too many facets to what medicinal honey is about, but the first few are: 1. Antibiotic resistance is almost futile when using raw honey. 2. Medicinal honey is non-toxic and will not contaminate/harm your animal or household. 3. Medicinal honey is yet another superb way beekeepers can be supported by the masses.
If you want to learn more, type in “Karol Mathews medicinal honey” into Google or Google Scholar.
I receive many bee-themed gifts, all of which are delightful. One of my favourites were these model railroad layout beekeepers my older sister gave me. I had a sudden urge to do something with them one night and switched off the TV/internet and put a vinyl on the turntable. I went to the kitchen and made some good old fashioned play dough from flour, salt, a little bit of oil, and water. While the dough was still wet, I coloured it in with a couple different shades of green markers, and stuck in the beekeepers and a bunch of other stuff from around my house. I like how the bees are bigger in proportion to the beekeepers, because they really, truly are.
Once you get to know honey bees as I have, you’ll find an extra-special spot for them deep in your psyche. Interest and passion for honey bees likely comes from the primitive vestiges of our heart-brain, where a human knows that making friends with this insect actually ensures survival. The honey bee can provide a human with surplus honey that serves as both food and medication, beeswax for light and fuel, and highly proteinaceous larvae and pollen for eating (which I have tried – not bad!).
I fell under their spell many years ago, and make a point of always having a hive or two (or 30) of my own. There is something highly rewarding about good beekeeping, but the feelings are hard to narrow down into a few words. One of the recurring feelings I get is that of acceptance…that the bees are accepting me; I am not an intruder, but an admiring servant. Another feeling is that if you learn how to listen to the bees, you will be able to hear when they are sick, angry, happy, or in need of a new queen. Sounds crazy! I guess it kinda is…especially considering that any of this needs to be experienced first hand, as opposed to being written about.
On a sunny day in March of last winter, I went and checked up on them. I have this ritualistic thing that I do when it’s relatively warm out and the bees start flying around…and this time I filmed it.