Dr Ben Atkins BDS



Dr Ben Atkins BDS

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There must be money in honey…

23rd August 2015

Heard the one about getting stung by bee rustlers in Wales? It might sound like it’s the 1st April, but actually it’s been a serious problem over this summer – several hives have mysteriously disappeared in the Anglesey and Conway areas, and the police have been called in. As an avid apiarist (bee keeper!) myself, I can sympathise.

It takes a great deal of work to nurture bees into a proper colony, and it must be heart-breaking for the owners. Not only that, there’s a substantial financial loss too. These aren’t just honey-loving thieves – they must know what they’re doing to take a full hive, complete with thousands of bees and queen. And they’re doing it because, with bee populations being affected by disease, predators and environmental changes, a hive full of bees is now worth up to £500.

When I looked into it though, it’s not the first instance of ‘bee rustling’. Far from it. ‘Hive raiding’ is actually an ancient crime, and every year thefts are reported across the country and across the globe, with reports of hives being stolen as far afield as the USA and New Zealand. With them on the rise here, the British Beekeepers Association has even recommended that keepers get their hives microchipped!

I’ve been keeping bees for quite a few years now, and as a hobby it’s very therapeutic – as is the honey we make!

For me, bee keeping’s is a true escape from the pressures of running 9 different NHS contracts and a busy family life – it literally is the only thing I can’t rush. It’s so fascinating the way the bee community works; and seeing a hive survive the winter gives me quite a…well, buzz (sorry!).

The honey itself, pure and raw, contains all sorts of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that aren’t in refined honey…one reason it’s been seen as a ‘superfood’ for thousands of years. Ancient Olympic athletes used it to enhance their performance, for example; Indian ayurvedic medicine has used honey for at least 4000 years, in the belief it can improve eyesight, weight loss, bronchial asthma, and more; and recent research has shown it can help prevent cancer and heart disease, reduce ulcers and reduce coughs and sore throats.

But at the end of the day, it’s still sugar – which, as a dentist, I know we have to be careful with (see my blog article ‘So why does the dentist have fillings’) – although it is absolutely delicious! So I’m sure you can guess what I feel is the biggest challenge of bee keeping…restricting the honey to meal times!