Honey: A guide to finding and harvesting wild honey

Honey, it is known by its fans as natures most complete food. From its amazing antibiotic and antioxidant properties through its well known and often used ability to restore strength for athletes, honey, the golden liquid guarded and produced by those buzzing insects so many humans instinctively fear is an amazing natural and widely available food. Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water; and it’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.

Honey is produced by bees and can be found in the wild in quantity in most places around the globe. Bees cannot survive in freezing weather and will hibernate if temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius. Since the largest portion of habitable land stays above these temperatures for long periods of time, bees can be found and have readily adapted to most of the globe as we know it.

While there are different types of bees, there really is no such thing as a “killer” bee. The term being coined after several animals and some humans were met with death after encountering a variety of bee hives in the US South Western states over the past couple of decades. Africanized bees were a hybridization of the European bee and an Africanized bee to produce a hardier bee that was able to forage better but tended to be more aggressive than what is normally seen. The deaths occurred when the animals or humans interrupted the bees and were unable to escape after doing so. Simple logic in most areas where bees live is to ensure your animals can run freely when needed and not keep them in a small paddock. As for humans, stop messing with what you dont understand, not everything has to die.

From the time I was around 13 through my 16th year I assisted a local bee keeper and friend of my parents in caring for well over 200 hives across Cochise County. I learned how to calm the bees, what to do if attacked and how to SAFELY remove and or rehouse a beehive from houses and more. Additionally I was able to get a hands on education with the very wonderful bee and its amazing products, honey, pollen, wax, royal jelly and more. I should mention that while pollen purchased in capsules from your local health food store has some minor benefits, generally it should be used within a few hours of removal from a hive, it has a extremely low half life. Honey on the other hand retains much of its benefit regardless age and with a small amount of processing (removal of dead bees and or body parts) is an amazing wound salve, food and more.

Worker bees are female, drones are male and the queen herself will often lay upwards of a million eggs in her lifetime. The average hive holds on average 45-50k bees and can fit inside of a basketball. However, this is not an expose or a wikipedia article on the bee or its fabulous creations. Rather, it is an article to help the average hiker, camper, prepper and or backwoods individual learn to both care for and utilize bees and their products as well as avoid being stung by them (it is rather unpleasant regardless allergies too it.)

While bees may travel up too 7 miles for food, they rarely do so on a regular basis as anything more then 4 miles sees a diminished return exponentially. The average distance bees will travel is around one or two miles, as bees rarely travel in a straight line this will generally put their hives within easy walking distance of you. So if you are hiking, camping or just beginning your journey into the wilderness because you are tired of it all; bees are your friend and should be treated as such. In a previous article I stated that when seeking water you should follow the birds, bees are often just as helpful as they must have water to produce the necessary tools for survival for the hive. If you see bees flying around there will be open clean sources of water (always boil it regardless), and food. Also remember, to escape bees run in a STRAIGHT line THROUGH a bush or tall grass, they will get confused and stop chasing you.

We are going to take a scenario that everyone of you reading could potentially be involved in.

A 3-4 hour trip to see relatives or friends across two states and a mountain range. You break down after deciding to take a small but beautiful detour and realize your cell phones have no coverage and to be honest yours were the last tracks on this road, at least recently. Your radio works fine but no one is monitoring the channels you have available so you decide to walk due east across that little hill on your left to get back to the interstate which according to the map and compass you have is only about 10 miles away.

You know this is a hike that will take you and the family two days, after all, you are not in the best shape and while your children love running around and having fun, well, this is an area you dont know well so you will need to be careful. When you start out the sun is at its height, the heat is difficult to work in but not unbearable. You strap the packs on and load up your water. Just as you reach the crest of the first hill on the trip you stumble, as you fall you reach out and grab for a rock off to the side. Your hand grazes it and rips a large gash in to your hand.

Your children start to get upset watching you bleed and your significant other is a little queasy looking as well. You take a clean keffiyah (shemagh or head wrap/ scarf I have several in all my packs) out of your pack and wrap it tightly around your hand after rinsing thoroughly with your water. You look around and realize there is another range ahead and sun is going down. The valley below has several very nice green areas as well as some great places to set up a camp for the night so you decide to do that giving everyone a rest and you a chance to see to fixing the wound better as well as possibly locating some more water.

After ensuring there are no snakes, or predators in the general area you send the children to collect fallen dried wood and work with the S.O. to get a camp site set up. You boil some water and rewash the hand wrapping it again, as you do so you notice it has an angry red look and is already starting to get a little infected looking, no drainage yet but you will need to keep an eye on it. After a short filling but not extremely tasty dinner using the “food” you packed in your three day rig the children settle down with their blankets and you and your S.O. cover up as well. Night falls as the fire burns lower and you sleep.

The next morning you awaken to hear the children shouting joyfully, “A lake, a lake!” You didnt see a lake yesterday but your head isnt clearing up well and the symbols the kids keep banging around in there are not helping either. Your S.O. (significant other) looks at you with concern and goes to check the children. They come back with two canteens filled with water, which your S.O. puts on the fire to boil using a large titanium cup all have in their bags. You gently unwrap your throbbing hand and realize quickly that it has become infected. Now things have become much more difficult for everyone. What do you do?

Well, the answer is the easy part. You have water, rinse it out and get to walking right? Yes and NO. Depending on the situation and or individuals involved a simple infection may be just that, something that can be easily taken care of. However, what if your S.O. and children have NO experience in the wilderness, or what if you are diabetic or worse, simply poorly fed and typical of modern Americans today? An infection can easily end in death, even under 5 miles from “civilization.” I for one get infections and rarely get a fever or headache that accompanies. In fact I went into septic shock due to a surgery at one point and, honestly, if I had not been taken to the hospital by my wonderful S.O. would have been dead, simply because I didnt realize thats what it was!

So, what are your options? Follow the bees! Within 45 minutes your children are whooping and hollering that they have found the bee hive. “There are allot of bees” they shout. Your S.O. goes off to confirm that yes it is the hive and to prevent the children from poking the nest, figuratively and literally. They come back and ask what they should do now, you have them get some green brush and set it too smoldering after tying into a tight bundle mixed with dry brush and twigs. The bundle is about the size of a soccer ball and soon lights up smoking generously.

You have your S.O. wrap their face in a spare keffiyah leaving a small slit for eyes. Using your laces they tie their sleeves shut and bottom of pants. Then they take a long (5-7 foot) sturdy stick and place it into the ball of smoking bio mass and carefully carry it too the hive. Thankfully this hive chose to nest about 6 feet up in a tree, some hives will be in the ground and be harder to gain access to. Leaving the ball of smoking biomatter under the nest (within a foot or so) for 3-5 minutes will effectively addle the bees and keep them from being overly aggressive when you remove some of the hive and attached honey. Dont worry, they will rebuild it, it will be okay, just DONT remove too much or destroy the hive. You need them and they need you!

They come back to camp with a large cup filled with natures own medicine and food additive. Your S.O. cleans it a little getting the bits and pieces of bee out of it. Than gently scrubs your wound clean, rinses it off, layers the honey over that and covers it with the shemagh. You lay down and go to sleep. You wake to hear the children and your S.O. laughing and playing, a half eaten meal is in front of you and being ravenously hungry you dig in. The honey makes a nice touch and you feel strength filling your body. Two days later your loved ones are home and your car has been taken to the shop.

Obviously, this is a scenario and only that. However, this and many other things can and do happen every single day to hundreds of people around the world. Thousands of people are lost for days after leaving for a DAY hike around Phoenix and Tucson and across the South-West every year. Simple knowledge of basic available needs for survival is necessary for even the average day hiker. Why take a chance, learn today what can save you tomorrow. Remember, I gladly teach these tricks and tips for no cost or a low travel cost to any and all who would like to know. I also write regular articles here and have the experience to support the approach taken, versus so many others who use flim flam approaches and rest their entire approach on a short military career. I hate to tell you this, but the average soldier will fare no better lost and alone then the average civilian. Knowledge and the ability to use it is what separates the good from the average.

  1. Bees can be found across the globe
  2. If there are bees there is water and honey- follow the bees
  3. Don’t poke the hive or destroy it!
  4. Use a mixture of green and dry bio mass to “smoke” the bees out.
  5. Gently and carefully remove the equal of a cup or two of honey and its attending wax or pollen reserves depending on where the hive is.
  6. If it is underground, you will need to dig, and do so carefully. If it is underground unfortunately it is likely you will destroy the hive, so carefully attempt to remove as MUCH as possible.
  7. The queen bee is about twice the length of the other bees, as long as she is alive the hive is alive. So if you find the queen, put her back, the other bees WILL attack you if you have her. They can rebuild hives, but not queens.

As always if you have questions, ASK!

Remember, free the mind and the body will follow.

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About Jesse Mathewson

Jesse Mathewson is the author of the popular blog, jessetalksback.com and provides commentary to many varied places based on a background that includes education in criminal justice, history, religion and even insurgency tactics and tactical training. His current role in his community is as an organizer of sorts and a preacher of community solidarity and agorism. He also runs Liberty Practical Training, a self defense school specializing in the practical applications of defensive approaches versus the theoretical. As an agorist, voluntaryist and atheist his life is seen as crazy and wild by many, though once they get to know him most realize he is a bluntly honest individual who will give you the shirt off his back if he believes it is necessary to help you. Very simple, "That which is voluntary between all individuals involved is always right, if it is not voluntary, it is always wrong."
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