We have been blessed with another successful beekeeping year so far. I was delighted to see our ten productive hives bring in a surplus of over 600 pounds more than they needed this spring. It was more than they had ever brought in before.
Recently I read an opinion stating that people should not eat honey. It was part of discussion of CCD and the problems that bees are facing. The logic behind the opinion was beautiful – something I wish I heard more of. It is simply the principle of Design, that honey is the perfect food for bees. We take it and feed them sugar water instead, and then wonder why their health breaks down. If sugar water was as good as honey, why don’t we eat that instead? We could save a lot of trouble if we just operated according to God’s design and let the bees eat the food God designed for them instead of taking it away.
This is a piece of advice that we beekeepers should pay some attention to. It has only one basic flaw. In His Word, the One Who designed the bees does not condemn people eating honey. God cares about honeybee colonies. After all, not even a sparrow falls to the ground without His notice. And He emphatically says, “My son, eat thou honey… and the honeycomb…” (Prov. 24:13). In Scripture, honey is spoken of as an occasional treat to be eaten in moderation. It is the prime example of any good thing that is easily overdone (Prov. 25:27). This reinforces what I have already found to be very true about honeybees: they were created with the ability to gather and store far more honey than they actually need for their own survival. Their only limit is what the plants in their area can supply. That is good and right – and beekeepers ought to allow them to have more than they actually need at all times. Yet that in no way excludes people from enjoying honey as well.
Basic problem #1 is the great American addiction to sweets. We switch from refined sugar to honey to be healthier, and this is a wise choice, but we forget to ask if everything we eat really needs to be so thoroughly sweetened in the first place. Regarding this, there are two lessons we can learn from Proverbs 25:16. The first is in the words “Hast thou found honey?” Indeed, in the most natural created setting, honey is not always on hand, but a treat that is enjoyed when one would happen to discover a wild colony. The second is in the words “eat so much as is sufficient for thee”. God has, for a reason, placed a limit on the amount of honey that can be eaten at one time without unpleasant consequences! (See the rest of the verse.)
Basic problem #2, which has come to characterize modern agriculture quite thoroughly, is the natural abusive tendency to squeeze as much out of our animals, plants, and soil as we possibly can. We ignore the year of rest, we cut every last corner of the field, we pick every last cluster on the vine, and we accept whatever genetic manipulation we can create to greedily squeeze out more production and more profits. But when I read the Creator’s guidelines for His people, He tells us to do none of these things (Lev. 19:9-10 and 19, 23:22, 25:3-5, Deut. 22:9). These laws would be the admiration of the world if God’s people had only followed them (Deut. 4:5-8). We need to change from a desperate, strangling, “get-all-I-can” mentality to a more generous and balanced cooperation with the way things were designed to be (Prov. 11:24-31).
Yes, bees can secure far more than they need for themselves, and wise beekeepers will allow them to always have extra. It is their security against short-term drought, long winters, and other disasters. Nonetheless, beekeepers in our area can make a decent harvest without having to make up for it with cheap, lifeless, refined substitutes. Regard your bees (Prov. 12:10), go for God’s blessing (Deut. 26:15), and enjoy honey!