Greek Honey for Long
Life and the Truth

The Greek-American Herald

by Christopher Xenopoulos Janus

When the Janus-Xenopoulos family emigrated to this country in 1909, my father brought with him two little Olive trees, a gallon of Greece's famous olive oil and a hive of strong honey bees from Hymettus in Attica which to this day is quite famous for both its pale color and sweet flavor.The olive trees are very much alive in Montgomery,West Virginia where we lived, but the Hymettus bee hive didn't survive the long ocean voyage from Greece.

But within a year my father managed to develop three different bee hives in our home in Montgomery. The Janus family was always with honey and if my mother had her way we would have honey at each of our meals. My father was so successful with his bee hives that it became a business with him, and he sold his honey all over the state.

Greece has been famous for its different honeys since ancient days.

Honey has played significant and a varied roles in civilization! It is so sweet that bacteria can't survive in it t - so it was our first food preservation and all purpose wound salve. Hindus believe honey leads to a long life; Mohammed looked to honey as a remedy for all illness.

Honey signifies truth. In many of the world's religions, honey is a symbol of veracity lies truth because it needs no treatment to transform it after it has been collected. Truth was thought to be passed on by bees through their honey so that the elect could express it in their scholarship and poetry. This belief spread beyond the Holy Land in Europe. When it was said that bees settled on the lips of Plato, Pindar and St. Ambrose when they were children so that as adults they would speak and write only that what was true.

St. Ambrose, as it happens, was the saint of bee keeping.

Women in some ethnic groups on the Ivory Coast and Senegal still rub honey on the lips of newborns to insure that they will never tell lies.

Everybody having to do with bees and honey has to consider getting stung by bees.

Generally bees are pacifists. They would rather flee than fight. They sting to protect their young and their queen and only when provoked. The invasion of the harvest can constitute threat and provocation. Bees get finery after weeks of disruptiveness; a bee sting is an incomparably sudden, painful shock like a car door slamming on fingers.

Most people experience a dramatic yet local reaction to bee stings.

Even a stung arm swells to the size of a bolster pillow and nearby fingers threaten to explode, this is still considered a local reaction because it is treated to the venom at the sting site.

A very few people experience a systemic allergic reaction to the venom, which might cause a rash or hives anywhere on the body, as well as dizziness and vomiting. The most extreme and rare reaction anaphylaxis, causes the throat to swell shut and blood pressure to drop leading very quickly to shock and unconsciousness that is fatal is not treated immediately with a powerful antihistamine. Although it attracts a lot of terrifying press and here say, anaphylactic shock from bee stings is extremely rare. Just in case, beekeepers often keep epinephrine on hand for a new visitor to their hives happens to be in the one percent of the population that is hypersensitive to bee venom.

Insect stings are responsible for 50 to 100 deaths in the United States each year, and only half of these fatalities come from honey bees. During the same period, more than 4,500 people die from drowning, 1,600 people are killed due to firearms accidents and more than 400 deaths result from slips and falls while walking. For the average person, the chances of committing suicide, being struck by lightening, or falling down stairs are magnitudes greater than the possibility of being killed by a honeybee venom. In spite of these odds, many people continue to fear bees as dangerous and deadly.

Despite these fears, the production of honey in Greece and throughout the world is on the increase. Especially in Greece, Greek poets write the magic of honey, the chief sweetness known to the ancients and its power to cure and please the taste. They prove the power of hone as wisdom and eloquence because the infant, Plato was fed with honey from Greek bees and Plato was the greatest Greek of them all.

Educated at Harvard and Oxford, Christopher Xenopoulos Janus started his writing career as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News. Later he became a special writer for The New York Times Sunday News Magazine section where the late Lester Markel was his editor. During World War II, Janus joined the Department of State serving in Washington, Cairo and Athens on Greek War Relief and Rehabilitation programs. This experience had a great influence on his writing.

After World War II, the author was involved in various entrepreneurial experiences. At one time he owned Adolph Hitler's Mercedes Benz and toured it through the United States. He was an Investment Banker, but always took the time to be involved in the world around him.

Since his retirement from business, the author has devoted his time to writing, publishing and traveling. He founded and published the widely acclaimed Greek Heritage, The American Quarterly of Greek Culture, and with William Brashler wrote Search for Peking Man (Macmillan 1975). Janus' novel Miss Fourth of July, Goodbye has been filmed by Disney Productions. Around the World in 90 Years reflects much of the author's own warm and caring philosophy of life embodying unconditional loyalties and boundless enthusiasm. They feature a strong sense of self-reliance and the courage and wisdom to be interested in everything. Yet, as his mentor, George Santayana once cautioned the author: "Don't be awed by anything."

Most recently, the prestigious American Hellenic Institute Foundation of Washington, D.C. awarded its Hellenic Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award to Christopher Xenopoulos Janus.

Mr. Janus is the author of numerous articles appearing on HCS. Readers are invited to view: "The Girl With Melancholy Eyes," "Our First and Only Christmas in Sistersville"

2000 © Hellenic Communication Service, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.