Sunday, September 9, 2012

To Bee or Not to Bee this Rosh Hashanah

Shalom Yeladim:
I know that I'm a fly but I'm as busy as a bee this pre-Rosh Hashanah season. I've decided that I want to find out where the honey is in this Land of Milk & Honey.

Do you know that the term honey appears 55 times in the Bible? That's a lot of beeswax to mind, so I started my journey by making a bee-line to Dvorat Hatavor in the Lower Galilee.

There I met Yigal Ben-Zeev, a fearless bee farmer. Yigal took me to his apiary and showed me around.

He's been breeding bees and making honey products with fingertip ease since 1982. According to Yigal, honey is the best antibiotic, and of course, the world's first sweetener. I couldn't help lick my lips when I saw the honey from the bees up close. It made me make another Bee line -- straight to the supermarket to look at all the honey products and hope I don't get stuck in some type of a jam.

It was a jam all right -- a mental jam. There were so many honey products made from different kinds of fruit. Date honey was the biggie. So I said to myself, Zvuvi, time to go back to the Bible and find out what's going on. Sure enough, the honey from the land of Milk and Honey is primarily from dates and figs! Actual bee honey is only mentioned twice --  in a story about Samson in the Book of Judges and in another story about Jonathan in the Book of Samuel.

That was an eye opener!

Wait a minute, I said to myself. Didn't archaeologists discover an ancient apiary in Beit Sha'an a few years ago, proving that we Israelites were master beekeepers?

I flew to the ancient ruins to have a look.

I flew and flew, and flew until I finally found Tel Rehov, home to the earliest apiary found so far. I listened to the buzz of what the archaeologists were saying and you're not going to believe this!!! The bees that are native to Israel are Syrian bees but the bees the Israelites bred were imported Turkish bees. Why? Because the Syrian bees were too aggressive and they couldn't get them under control. Now, I don't want to start in with politics, but doesn't that sound just a bit like today's buzz from Syria?

I think I better stop here. Things are getting too sticky.
Have a sweet year!

Beit Sha'an photo credit