By Blake Wilkins
As we spread honey on our morning toast, are we aware of the hidden power lurking in the sweetness brought to us courtesy of the bee?
Ancient lore dating back to the fifth century places significant weight on the romantic imagery of honey and the more sanguine impacts of mead, recognised as the first alcoholic beverage known to man.
And that’s perhaps why I wasn’t taken totally by surprise when a mature couple ignored the displays of pure honey products on the shelves of the Overberg Honey Co shop in Stanford and headed straight for the shelves holding golden bottles of mead.
Returning to the counter with two bottles of the potion, the male customer dug out his wallet to pay while his companion, a striking brunette, turned to me after spotting that I was eyeing the product they were buying.
‘Are you aware of the origins of the word honeymoon?’
The bald question should have caught me by surprise but the woman’s open smile put me at ease.
‘I have to admit that I have no idea,” I said, an answer I may have given even if I’d known the answer
‘The word dates back to about the 5th century when the cycles of the moon were used as a calendar. A newly-wed couple drank mead (during the first moon or month known as the honey) of their marriage. Mead was believed to have aphrodisiac properties.’
I wasn’t sure if it was a twinkle I detected in her eyes but I did notice her perfect teeth as she grinned. My attempt to get her name was dismissed with an airy wave of her hand as she and her companion exited the shop with bottles in hand. I noticed a spring in their step that might have indicated that romance was a thought process they were sharing unconsciously as they walked hand-in-hand to their car.
Most beekeepers focus on the honey trade and pollination of farmers’ orchards. Products such as mead and other honey-based alcohol products are manufactured by specialist suppliers.
Mead is made by fermenting honey by adding water and wine yeast. Mead producers use different types of yeast and honey to offer either sweet, semi-sweet or dry mead.