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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Honey, Rust, and Allergies

My great-grandfather kept bees. He loved them and they loved him. He sold his farm to my grandparents when he felt he was too old to take care of it anymore. My grandmother kept bees too, and my mother says that Grammy was never stung by her bees. She never wore protective clothing of any kind either, that my mother remembers. She never allowed the kids to play anywhere near the bees on the farm. She didn't want the bees getting upset. Fortunately it was a large farm, and with the River running nearby, the kids were far more interested in playing in the forbidden areas of the water, like where the logs were being floated downstream to the sawmill, you know, the best place to get yourself killed if you weren't careful or if you were just thinking you were invincible, which apparently most kids in the 1930s in the Willamette Valley thought. Not that their parents didn't care, but they certainly seemed to have a lot more freedom and responsibility than kids do today. But I digress. The bees on that farm produced wonderful honey, my mom says.

I've been thinking about honey and bees and related things like What Sort of Container should I buy now that my honey can's finish is gone and the honey has to be moved, and is it even safe anymore? My brother-in-law gave us the honey about five years ago, and we just opened the can last week. It's a very weird can to be using for a food product, just like a gallon paint can with that lid you have to pry off with a screwdriver and pound back down with a hammer. But the honey clinging to the can lid was black and tar-like, and when I washed it off, off came the finish from the can too. Not a good sign. (The honey down in the can seems fine.)

I was thinking whom I should call about this honey can business. I have a good friend on the next block who keeps bees; I could try her and it would give me a great excuse to satisfy my curiosity about her foray into beekeeping.

Then I will probably call my sister, who helpfully has almost a doctorate in toxicology (she was supposed to write one more short paper to finish, but she was in the Army and they transferred her before she could do it, so she left with a sort of deluxe master's degree). I always call her to ask about dented cans and outdated or smelly or discolored foods. She knows everything about what poisons can be brewing in my cupboard or refrigerator.

I was reading something the other day that said you could alleviate your spring fever troubles by eating a spoonful of locally-produced honey every day. The thinking is that the bees are producing this honey by using the same pollens that are causing you much misery, and so if you eat a little every day, you might build up a resistance to being allergic to those pollens. Even if it turns out to be untrue, how can I resist being given a good reason to eat a spoonful of honey every day? Mmmmmm.

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