Beekeepers are not sentimental. For most of us, Saint Valentine’s Day is a day of intense panic when male beekeepers rush out to buy something special for some darling or pigsney. (It’s not like we didn’t know February 14 was coming.)
Saint Valentine’s Day, though, wasn’t meant to be a day of loathing and dread. It comes to us from a mythical character of long ago. The love-struck saint’s day is built upon Lupercalia, a 3-day Roman holiday (February 13–15) which was intimately connected to fertility. (Luper himself was originally a lupus, or wolf-creature.) Lupercalia came from a much older spring celebration, maybe going back 10,000 years, stolen by the Romans, and then was borrowed and modified by the new Roman church just 1700 years ago. The church fathers used the old holiday to remember a sainted martyr, Valentino, who grew a new heart every night and give his old heart to anyone who was sick, feeble, or heartless. Giving out chocolate hearts is easier.
At least one beekeeper – someone whom I shall never meet – employed enormous energy and talent to make the really cool heart-shaped comb in the picture above. I ran across it on a Polish language bee-talk forum where members were showing various comb-honey gadgets. I couldn’t understand much of what I read on that site, but the pictures are great. If you have seen these heart-combs before or know the person who makes them, please drop me a note so I can credit the appropriate craftsman. Until then, maybe you can make a few of these yourself. You know, just before taking your special honey out to dinner.