There are places in the world where honey is revered for it’s medicinal qualities, and some types particularly so. Carob honey and Jujube or Sidr honey are 2 cases in point. It so happens that both are being produced on a wild and isolated permaculture in Nannup Western Australia. Tough carobs, olives and oaks were some of the first things planted on Merri Bee Organic Farmacy’s bare and steep hillsides in 1986, to prevent erosion and grow sweet pods of carob for the cows and sheep. There was no thoughts of honey at the time. It took 20 years for the carob trees to make pods, but now they make heaps every year, and now the bees are making carob honey.
Carob Honey is a beautiful, deep-tasting tree honey, with a warm chocolatey flavour and a hint of smoky wood. If you’ve been searching for a good quality Carob honey, you can stop now. The bees feed on carob trees to produce this marvellous honey, different from the blossom honeys as it has a more complex and prominent taste. It also crystallises more quickly than some other tree honeys.
The carob tree is a flowering evergreen tree. It is actually a member of the pea family and produces beautiful tasting pods which are often used as a chocolate substitute. The trees dioecious ….either male or female and occasionally hermaphroditic. Only the female trees produce the legume pods. The trees flower in the late summer, early autumn. Following the carob flowering on Merri Bee Farmacy is the Desert Ash trees which flower after they have dropped their leaves in June. Bees are busily buzzing in the oak and chestnut trees in spring. Its a year round feast for bees here, that was never planned.
Stewart K Seesink is one of the most genuine down to Earth people you could meet. His aim is always to present the highest quality honey possible. For Stewart, beekeeping is an art form which relies on the fact that the bare hills of this property were reclothed with many trees by his partner Bee (in her younger days)…. some native, some rare and exotic, in an effort to mimic nature. Nature has the winning model, after all.
Nannup shares a Mediterranean climate with Middle Eastern countries so Mediterranean plants thrive here : mulberry, pomegranate, fig, grapes, citrus, chestnut, oaks, pine nut trees, Desert Ash, Carob, olive, palms and Jujube to name a few.
The Zizaphis Jujube trees planted 10 years ago now yield not only Chinese dates, but the famed Sidr honey…. normally only produced in places like Yemen, Pakistan and Egypt . The bees feed on the lavish nectar that the pretty, shiny- leafed Jujube tree produces for a short period in the late Spring. From rather insignificant looking tiny white flowers comes this legendary Sidr Honey, among the finest variants of honey in the world. It has a distinctive taste, and is considered sacred in many religions. The Sidr tree itself is mentioned as a supreme tree of Paradise in the Quran and has many medicinal properties as the following quote from https://foodthealternativemedicine.wordpress.com attests:
“Drink Sidr tea to lower the body temperature, and for restoring vital energy to the body, as well as for treating infections and inflammation, and for relieving menstrual pain. It can be taken before bedtime to get rid of insomnia and tension. But do not drink too much of this tea.” In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), suan zao ren (Ziziphus spinosa) is considered to be sweet and sour in taste, and neutral in action. It is believed to nourish the heart yin, augment the liver blood, and calm the spirit . It is used to treat irritability, insomnia and heart palpitations.”
No doubt one should be guided by a reputable herbalist in the use of the leaves.
Bee visited and taught Permaculture in Nuweiba, Egypt, in December of 2016, generously hosted by Maged El Said of Habiba Farm. The Jujube tree in Egypt is called by a name sounding like Nabuk.
In ancient Egyptian prescriptions, it was used in remedies against swellings, pain, and heat, and thus should have anti-inflammatory effects. Nowadays, Zizaphus spina-christi, is used in Egypt (by Bedouins, and Nubians), the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, Iraq, and Morocco against a wide range of illnesses, most of them associated with inflammation. Pharmacological research undertaken to date suggests that it possesses anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, hypotensive and anti-microbial effects.
Stew and Bee have sold the super sweet dried jujube fruit for years but are only just learning about the honey from this tree. It is extremely valuable, selling for $500 a kilo in Saudi Arabia.
The Sidr Honey nectar collected by bees from the ziziphus tree has supreme antibacterial properties. Sidr honey is mentioned in the ancient scriptures and is extremely rare to find.
Says Bee, “ There is every chance that the people of Egypt I met get their stamina and impressive perseverance through Sidr and Carob honey”
Stew and Bee are excited that their rare honeys are being appreciated by many honey connoisseurs, such as Gordo … Gordo the Purist of natural wines fame.) Hmmm, his 100% natural Chardonay, ( nothing but grapes) is superb. Cheers Gordo !
It has turned out that herbal hedges of lavender, rosemary, thyme and sage; and tree planting done to prevent further erosion of the steep hills, now produces not only medicinal herbs for the cows and sheep but wonderful and unique honey.
This Winter, Bee happily went crazy over rose catalogues and planted dozens of roses as bee forage. She can hardly wait to plant the heavily scented Damask rose, ordered from Seamus at Mostly Roses in Donnybrook. Roses are beloved by bees of all kinds. Photo of a glorious pink rose which grows in the chook pen, obtained from old friend Godfrey Grey. That a feast for the eyes could become a feast of honey as well!
Stew is keenly listening for the humming of bees to know when the various trees flower, eg when the spotted gums ( planted for timber long ago) are flowing with nectar, in order to name the honey. They even have Jarrah trees Bee planted years ago currently bending low with flower buds, and are hoping for home grown Jarrah honey, a very medicinal one to rival the famed Manuka honey of New Zealand.
Lately customers are finding a whole new world of pure, all natural, unpasteurised, raw honey from this permaculture farm, itself surrounded by state and beautiful, unburnt, privately- owned native forest. The Farmacy has remained chemical free for decades by introducing predatory insects and by hand weeding the orchards, vineyards and gardens so they stay the way the bees and you would want it…..pure and natural.