The Honey Bee: Bird of the Universe
By Joe Olvera ©, 2011
“Fatevi miele, le mosche vi mangieramo, is Italian for Rub yourself with honey and the flies will eat you.” The ancient proverb is only one of many from many different cultures for this sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus apis) is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans. Honey has a long history of human consumption and is used in various foods and beverages as a sweetener and flavoring. It also has a role in religion and symbolism.
Other ancient and not so ancient proverbs about honey include:
*If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive – Abraham Lincoln;
*Make honey out of yourself and the flies will devout you – Cervantes, Don Quixote. II. 43;
*The bear dreams of honey;
*Luxury has honey in her mouth, gall in her heart, and sting in her tail;
*Wit is honey lent, without the sting – Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Honey, that substance which is sometimes called Wonderful Honey or the Honey Bee as the Bird of the Universe, is often used in various traditions to treat such ailments as hair loss, bladder infections, toothaches, cholesterol, colds, upset stomach, heart diseases, immune system, indigestion, influenza, longevity, pimples, skin infections, weight loss, cancer, fatigue, bad breath and hearing loss, among others. Honey is also an ancient product, and is listed in Eva Crane’s “The Archeology of Beekeeping.” She states that humans began hunting for honey at least 10,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt, honey was used to sweeten cakes and biscuits and was even used by the Egyptians for embalming the dead. Honey was also cultivated in Meso America by the Mayans – they used honey from the stingless bee for culinary purposes and continue to do so today. The Mayans also regarded the bee as sacred.
But, to one seller of honey, the substance also provides a living. Moises Alvarez has been selling honey at the corner of Horizon Blvd., and Darrington Avenue for several years. He swears by honey and touts its delicious properties as well as its healing powers. “It’s natural,” Alvarez said. “It’s locally produced, and I believe that it really helps people with many of their ailments. Many cultures throughout the world use honey for more than a sweetener.”
Alvarez said that he gets his honey to sell from the Fabens Honey Farm, at 1114 E. Main Street, in Fabens, Texas. He buys it by the case, but sells it to his customers at $9 for the 48 ounce jar, and $5.50 for the 24 ounce jar. His location, near the Star Bakery in Horizon City, is well known to those who are seeking his product. One of his customers, Juan, said that he uses honey as a sugar substitute. “It’s good for allergies and other ailments. I’d been looking for Mr. Alvarez to buy it from him and I finally found him.”
Alvarez said he buys his product in Fabens and takes it to Horizon so that his customers don’t have to make the long trip. “My honey sells better in the winter, but, I’m here from Tuesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. In Fabens, I see how they make the honey, so I know it’s 100 percent pure and natural.”