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The Sweetest Church in England

Specialist bee removal experts were recently called to St Nicholas in Piddington, Oxfordshire, to relocate around 50,000 bees from the roof of the church after their superabundance caused honey to leak through the church’s ceiling and drip down its walls.

There were also concerns about the structural integrity of the roof as the honey bee colony was unusually heavy and at least two metres long.

Rector, Rev Andrew Hayes told media outlets, "When people were coming to visit the church, they were uncomfortable with the number of bees that were there.

"So, that was what motivated us into action but we didn't want to just eliminate the problem; we wanted to make sure they were looked after and cared for."

The work is reported to have taken three days to complete and has cost the church around £5,000. Fortunately, the evicted bees are reported to be adapting well to their new home in a nearby field.

Perhaps we should not be surprised that 50,000 bees took up residence at the church; the Bible is replete with references to honey. In fact, it is mentioned 61 times in the New Testament, perhaps most famously in describing The Promised Land as flowing “with milk and honey”.

A Symbol of Health

Bee products, including propolis, have been used by humans for thousands of years for their healing and medicinal properties. It was even used in the Bible as a symbol of health and abundance, with King Saul’s son Jonathan unable to resist tasting sweet honeycomb, unwittingly defying his father's order that forbade his army to eat until he had defeated all his enemies:

“But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened." (1 Samuel 14:24-27)

There are many further biblical references to honey, including its appellation as one “of the best products of the land” as well as a notable reference in the Book of Wisdom: "My son, eat honey because it is good, And the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste." (Proverbs 24:13); while in Matthew 3:1-4 John the Baptist survives entirely on wild honey (and locusts!).

Propolis – Biblically Brilliant

Propolis is one of nature’s most astonishing ingredients, which is why it has been used as a natural remedy for thousands of years, including as a cold sore treatment. The fascinating bee product certainly has an interesting history, going as far back as the ancient Egyptians, who used it as an embalming material in the mummification process, and ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, one of the most significant figures in the history of medicine, wrote of how he used propolis to cure many ailments. Herstat’s cold sore cream is propolis-based so that you can reap the benefits of bees’ labours. Try it – your eyes will brighten, and so will your smile!