A Pair of Swarms

We’ve been privileged to share the farm with Honeybees since the 1980’s. Over the decades, I’ve tried to learn as much as I can about these amazing creatures. Early on, a bee shaman from the Andes came and heightened my feelings about the significance of Honeybees. Everything he said has reverberated in me down through the years. Among other things, he warned of the bee crisis that would occur in America.

I also have read many books about Honeybees. Some have been helpful and some very strange. Beekeepers of the last century, at least the ones putting pen to paper, seemed to have been mostly men, and many of them had some very peculiar ideas about the almost entirely female composition of bee colonies. In the gardens here, I have greeted every Honeybee I’ve encountered as an opportunity to thank a treasured friend. Mostly, I have spent countless hours sitting with the beehives watching the Honeybees come and go. All this to say, I deeply love Honeybees. Yet after all this time, they remain an immense and glorious mystery to me.

This last week was a prime example of this. We noticed Honeybees were bearding on the outside of a couple hives. Bearding is when a lot of Honeybees come out of their hive and sit on the outside of the hive boxes. Sometimes a beard will almost cover the front of the hive. They will do this during hot days to cool off, but it has been cold here this spring ( in fact, it was 39 degrees last night). They also beard when they feel crowded in the hive and need more hive boxes. We put more hive boxes on the hives with the beards and crossed our fingers. Why? Because Honeybees will sometimes swarm and leave a hive even when it is spacious. They divide themselves and a swarm departs to create a new colony for mysterious reasons or mysterious to me.

Swarms are one way to increase our Honeybee community but not a reliable one. This is because we cannot always encourage a swarm to move into one of our hive boxes. If the swarm lands high in a tree, we cannot even reach the swarm to give this a try.

When a swarm leaves the hive, it is quite a moment. Tens of thousands of Honeybees take flight and all of them hum and fly in circles interweaving with one another. The new queen is always somewhere in the whirling mass of bees doing what some (male) beekeepers like to call the “flight of the virgin queen.” This new queen will eventually settle somewhere temporarily, and all the other bees following her will cluster around her to protect her. Then the swarm will send off some scouting bees to find a new home for the new colony. This means the swarm will stay in this temporary location until the scout bees find the perfect home. This temporary situation can last a couple of hours or a couple of days before the scout bees find somewhere they think will work for a new hive location.

This time of waiting when the swarm is in this temporary location is our chance to get the swarm into one of our hive boxes and settle the colony here at the farm. I have tried to chase a swarm when it goes to its permanent home, and let me tell you, they move so fast there is no following them. The temporary in transit moment is our only chance to hive a swarm here and must be done as soon as possible in case the scout bees find a new home quickly.

Yesterday I was weeding the Red Shiso babies when I heard the enormous humming noise that indicated a swarm had left the original hive and was on the go. As I settled near the old hive box to see where the swarm would first settle, in air space at least 50 feet wide the Honeybees were all moving in a swirl of what appears to be random circling but is a much more choreographed dance. Somewhere in there was the new queen on the first leg of her journey to a new home.

I asked the Deva of Honeybees and the Elementals of the Honeybees in this swarm to land the swarm low to the ground so we could reach it, but only IF the swarm wanted to stay at the farm. I felt like the swarm did want to stay here, and their choice of temporary location seemed to underscore this.

This time the swarm chose an apple branch about 8 feet off the ground. This was a pretty good placement for us to get a hive box under the swarm and gently shake it into the hive to see if we could get the queen settled into new quarters provided by us.

So began several efforts to house this swarm. With the first try, the swarm didn’t settle in after the first bee drop. We think this was because the queen didn’t go into the box with the first drop. The swarm was a long icicle of bees but also one spread out on the tree and one group of the swarm fell outside the box when they dropped.

The mood of the swarm was restless, and that feeling was also in play. The swarm regrouped in an odd place underneath the lip of a wheelbarrow, and we tried again. With the second try we were confident the queen was in the hive box, because the Honeybees outside the hive box were interested in entering the box to join her. The second time, in a few minutes, the rest of the hive of many thousands of Honeybees had joined her in the hive. By dusk we had a new hive next to the new hive from last week’s swarm.

Yes, we had another swarm last week! For us, swarms usually happen later in the summer if they happen at all. We know of beekeepers who go into their hives and kill any incipient queens that the hive may be growing. I have never been one for interfering too much with what is going on inside the hive boxes. One summer we had a “bee expert” give us a lot of hands on advice and show us a lot of his tricks. I found his behavior around the hives very aggressive and macho. He was constantly in the hives moving frames and doing stuff he said would make the hive more productive. I was very relieved when our lessons with him were over, and we could leave the Honeybees in peace. Somehow I never could buy into his ideas that Honeybees were not productive enough in their own right. My goodness, they literally work themselves to death for the sake of the hive.

Anyways, it’s been a bit of surprise to have two swarms so early. At last week’s swarm I got some photos to share here. This swarm dropped into the new hive box seamlessly and settled in for good within an hour of the drop. All the staff goddesses watched the whole process which added to the feeling of harmony. Here are a few photos of this earlier swarm.

Here is the swarm. It is in two pieces, but they were over each other so could be dropped down into the hive box in one action.
Here is Lizzie about to gently shake the swarm into the open hive box.
The swarm is in the box and the Honeybees outside the box are crawling in to join their queen. Hooray!

A Bindweed Rant

Do you have a weed in your life that is the bane of your existence, a mortal foe and a constant thorn in your side? I hope not. But if you do, I hope it is not Bindweed.

Bindweed came to the farm via a truckload of native bark mulch ( mulch intended to keep the weeds down not grace me with an enemy). This was probably fifteen years ago. I had no idea what life would be like after Bindweed’s arrival.

What is it like? Bindweed is now a part of my every gardening moment.

Each day I go on a Bindweed patrol through the gardens. I don’t have the time to go everywhere, but I do have a couple spots I hit every day in hopes of having a few Bindweed free zones. No such luck.

Even if I have pulled up all the Bindweed in a bed the day before, there are shoots 6 inches long everywhere. If I have missed a shoot or not been to that part of the garden on patrol in a couple of days, the Bindweed will be a vine several feet long and wrapped around some other plant as it heads for the sky.

You can’t just pull up Bindweed and have it go away, because even a small piece of root will happily send up a new shoot overnight and yes, the roots break into bits when you pull them up. It’s a very successful plant. I just don’t happen to like it.

Another reason Bindweed is so hard to remove is because it wraps itself around other plants. If you just grab and pull, you pull up an innocent plant that is just minding its own business while Bindweed chokes the life out of it. You have to go to the ground, find where the Bindweed emerged from the earth then pull it up and unwind it from the victim plant.

Sometimes we will be sitting at the kitchen table and I will see a particularly gnarly and aggressive Bindweed that I missed, and I will race from the table to do battle. When I dash out the door, everyone knows why.

Somehow I never expect the Spanish Inquisition OR Bindweed and I can’t believe what it does when I am not looking.

My Bindweed Battle is one battle I would love to put a wrap on. Sometimes I think of literally plowing in places like my raspberry patch where the bindweed is particularly bad and just covering the whole thing with a tarp for a year or two before starting from scratch.

My daughter Emily liked to pull up Bindweed when she was younger, but now she has a life and a baby too and not so much time for Bindweed wars. Lucky woman.

When I used to do workshops on Gardening with the Angels and Elementals, we would spend time on questions like. “What can I learn from the groundhog eating my garden?” Now I do not CARE what I am supposed to be learning from Bindweed. I just do not want to think about Bindweed anymore.

Sometimes I get tired of our long winters, but one bright spot about our winters is that at least there is no Bindweed out there.

If I was a better person, I would post a photo of Bindweed here, but I am not.

I really love almost every Flower there is and Bindweed Flower is beautiful white Flower that looks like a Morning Glory, BUT I AM NOT going to dignify Bindweed with a photo, so, if you are fortunate enough not to know this plant, just imagine a incredibly fast growing, long, twisting vine that chokes the life out of every other plant in the garden before throwing off a few white Flowers.

Thanks for letting me rant! Can you tell where I have been this morning ands what I have been doing? Head down in the bushes, pulling up Bindweed.

Flower Essences and the 7 Stages of Grief

This week my husband, Jim, will finish (for now anyways) this unexpected experience of teaching middle school students from home. Since the beginning of the quarantine, he’s connected to his students via Zoom and other online methods, and nobody has enjoyed it except maybe the stockholders of Zoom.

At his end of the year staff meetings, the teachers will divide into three teams to plan for three contingencies for the next academic year. The first is that school children will physically return to school in September. As his school is currently locked down better than Fort Knox, this option feels farfetched. The second option is that students may start at school then be sent home if and when there is a flare up of the virus. The third is that students may stay home for the year. As with all of our situations, there are layered complexities of mandatory desk distances, masks, fever meters, the challenges of humorous and human exchanges via Zoom and the governor’s mandate that, no matter what, THERE WILL BE NO RECESS.

Yes, we all have a lot of grief to deal with as we navigate these unprecedented and unknown times.

Someone mentioned the 7 stages of grief to me, so I looked at the list and was struck by how specific Flower Essences can help us navigate specific kinds of grief. In addition to the absolute life raft of our Grief & Loss combination Flower Essence mix, I want to offer up other Flower Essences suggestions for specific stages kinds of grief.

So why the cross out of stage? I balk at the term “stages of grief.” I might like the grief process to be linear with us crossing off the stages like items of a checklist, but that has not been my experience of grief at all. Grief is a surprising visitor that arrives unexpectedly then comes and goes as unpredictably. I also don’t think we have to complete one stage “successfully” before tackling another or that we are even in control of the way our grief moves through us. We have choices about how we respond to our grief, but not control of grief.

In any case, why are we so focused on stages and checking things off on a list? Oh that’s right, we’re in the end of a patriarchal age in which goals are the thing. The everything.

“Oh yeah, I did stage four today, Denial! What a challenge, but I did it and now I’ll do stage five tomorrow, the Alpe d’Huez.”

This is not the Tour de France. Which of us aren’t feeling many different griefs at times? I suspect we are going to bounce around from one kind of grief to another as we adjust to our new world, AND THAT IS OKAY!

All this to say, I hope we can look at this list of different griefs not so much as a patriarchal to do list that must be navigated in order but more of a considering the common ground we all face as our world changes. May this discussion remind us to be incredibly compassionate to ourselves and everyone else as we deal with the many seismic shifts we navigate right now.

Shock and Disbelief– As with so many of you, my shock has been a visceral one as I deal with a daily life turned on its head. There are also moments in which it feels like this must be a Fellini movie. As mentioned previously, I don’t leave the farm that often, but garden centers do have a way of singing a siren song to me. It’s bizarre to go get plants and find myself surrounded by gardeners with homemade Flower masks like mine ALL ACTING AS IF THIS IS NORMAL. Moments like that remind me how big this is, and how I don’t at all grasp it.

Orange is the color to help us manage shock. It grounds and stabilizes our electrical system and Orange Flowers also do this. Orange Hawkweed helps us stay calm and keep our energies organized and smooth when we are freaked out. Maltese Cross is for when we have gone through a tearing apart experience of grief and loss. It is deeply stabilizing for violent changes in circumstances. Grounding Flower Essence combines many Flowers to help us stay in our bodies. It carries the calm vibration of the many Tree Flowers it is made from.

Denial– 2020 was always going to be about seeing more clearly things we didn’t necessarily want to see then trying to process what we’ve learned. As we go through many disorienting and traumatic experiences together, we need to see clearly through our own eyes and not assume the filters other people want us to use are valid. How do we see with clear eyes and not get so overwhelmed we splinter off into denial again?

We have some excellent Flower Essences for this. The beloved Eyes of Mary helps us see truth but from a higher perspective so we do not lose hope. Eyes of Mary is also called Forget-Me-Not. This quality of holding us to the truth makes it a very apt Flower Essence for right now. Eyes of Mary is the Flower’s name in other places including France. I chose to use Eyes of Mary, not to be a pompous Eurocentric prat, but because I like how this name suggests its connection to the higher vision of dear Mother Mary who is with us constantly right now. She and this Essence help us see clearly without fear and this is good, because fear is the root of denial for most of us. Another wonderful source of support is Through Angels’ Eyes, the Venus Garden Essence from two years ago. This one helps us see the Divinity and the abiding Light within us all and all situations. If you find yourself overwhelmed by what you see, Bottle Gentian is another game changer. Part of its I AM affirmation is, “I AM the calm at the eye of the storm.”

Many of us, me included, have used Purple Viper’s Bugloss from Santorini during this time as it helps us feel safe when our lives have been flipped on their heads. Scarlet Runner Bean is another that helps us face our fears so they don’t have such a grip on us. And where would we be in 2020 without our Flower Essence combination Be Fearless? The Angels had us send this off to you as a gift in the winter, and it remains a steadfast source of support.

Bargaining– Bargaining is a complex dynamic in the grief experience. Over the years, my bargaining has involved me pleading with Divinity to do specific things for me because I didn’t like what was happening. My bargaining also has involved me hoping that if I explained myself better to Divinity, then events would be undone. My bargaining meant going over things I could not change with a fine tooth comb as if finding something I hadn’t noticed before would do the trick. I’ve spent a lot of time bargaining, but I try not to linger there anymore. It’s an understandable but not helpful way for me to engage with Divinity and with my life circumstances.

One reason for this is that bargaining is almost always about me trying to bring a different result to something that already happened. I probably have written way too many blogs about my losses. From the first blog, none of it could be changed, yet often I felt if I pleaded my case more eloquently, there would be a different outcome.

Now when navigating loss, I TRY to see the half glass full a little sooner! We’re all getting a chance to practice this skill, aren’t we? I am not an Angel. Recent losses saw me doing a wee bit of bargaining/pleading with Divinity/teeth gnashing, but I try to move on in practical and kind ways. When I ask for help, I ask for help to accept and deal with what is. I do what I can with the worldly plane of the situation, and remember the rest is not in my hands.

Maybe that’s a gift of being older. I don’t have years to spend rehashing this or that loss, nor do I want to. I was so affronted when bad things happened to me earlier in my life. Yet, eventually I used these experiences to shape our Flower Essence collections which has been a great blessing. I made lemonade from lemons, but not before I cried a lot over spilt milk. Now, I’m less interested in the spilt milk.

I am not judging younger Molly. It was my nature to expect people to be as interested in fairness as I was, but in truth, not everyone is. Writing, processing, seeking Flowers to help me heal was always my way forward, but I don’t clamor to add hand wringing to those activities anymore. There is a lot we can’t control right now, but we can work on some of our responses (and yes, you can read all my early blogs where I hadn’t learned any of this!).

To help me let go of my bargaining habit, I am grateful for Flower Essences like All Contracts Null & Void, The Letting Go Flower and Flow Free. These constant companions offer a never ending font of support to let go of my ideas about what I am owed by life. 1. The losses are nonnegotiable. 2. I am lucky enough to still be here. I try to gently let go of pretty much everything else with the help of these Flower friends.

Anger– I once heard an Ascended Master quoted as saying anger is one of the last things to go as we spiritually evolve, but it does go. I look forward to that! Meanwhile there is Outburst (one stop shopping for anger!). In addition, Indian Pipe and Arbor Garden expand our sense of self in a way that helps us not identify with our small self but with the oneness of the Divinity that unites us and with the abiding peace beneath the surface chaos.

Once in awhile, as I break free of a chain of patriarchy, I’ll have the detachment to see myself as a player in a play in which we are all part of the same company working towards the same ends with different roles to play. Somebody has to play the arch villains- I am so glad it is mostly not me. This detachment, no matter how fleeting, helps me see the brilliance of other people’s acting and take their behavior a lot less personally.

Guilt– As we see more clearly, it can be hard not to be derailed by guilt. Consider guilt the wake up call but once awakened by it, we don’t have to wear guilt like a hair shirt. This is how patriarchy has immobilized us Light workers: We’ve been told what we see is ALL OUR FAULT and this has sidelined us into endless self defeating self criticism. Do the world a big favor and leave the guilt behind and get on with being your Light. The world needs you and your Light. If you want to transmute wrong doing, the Violet Transmuting Flame and its corresponding Violet Transmuting Flame Violet Essence make great tools. If you simply want to dump the endless guilt messages piled on you by patriarchs, All Ego Contracts Null & Void is up to the task. I also suggest Wound Healing as so many lifetimes of taking the rap for other people’s bad behavior has left many Light workers with wounds like shame which are not ours. In addition, Cardinal de Richelieu Rose is an incredible ally for taking back the truth of your Light and shedding the garbage others would have you carry as yours.

Depression– The Woad is in bloom right now giving the honeybees and humans much delight. This Flower once made the most important blue dye on earth, second only to Indigo. That this mind boggling bright Yellow flowering plant creates a blue dye expresses such alchemy.

But Woad‘s gift to us is in the wisdom it learned when it had to find itself after a radical shift in its purpose. With the introduction of Indigo from the east, Woad was abandoned as a useful plant by everyone in the western world. It was no longer the source of all blue dye in Europe. Woad offers support for all of us as we must abandon most of our habits, our ways of thinking about things even our livelihoods and find new purpose and a new sense of ourselves. Woad found purpose in being its Light even when dismissed by the culture. So can we.

Yellow is the color for lifting depression so reach for any Yellow Flower Essence that calls to you if and when these times find you struggling with despair and depression. Sunflower, Gorse, Mustard, Yellow Mullein and Yellow Mullein from Crete are wonderful allies. Sunflower reminds us we really are superheroes and will figure this out. Gorse helps us when we feel all is lost because Gorse knows this is never true. There is always a way forward. Mustard noted recently that not only is it good for all deep seated depression, but it is particularly helpful in a time in which people feel less important than their technology. Yellow Mullein and Yellow Mullein from Crete remind us WE CAN DO IT! We can respect the individuality and preciousness of all sentient beings and find our common Divinity even while wearing masks!!!!

The final kinds of grief are about moving on and beginning to accomodate the changes and feel hope. I love Fragrant Ladies Tresses for its ability to remind us that even if we do not know how, healing is coming. Please know that all of us here are sending Love as we collectively find our way forward in this New Life we are in.