The bee swarms got me going in several different directions.
First, I went to the beehives. Without so many dirty dishes to greet me after my days in the office, I’ve had more time to sit next to the hives in the late afternoon. Settled just to the side of their flight path, I watch worker bees bomb in with orange balls of pollen on their back legs. Those that arrive without the telltale pollen ball on their back legs are probably carrying nectar back to the hive. This nectar will become honey. The traffic coming and going make the traffic in Star Wars look sleepy. I see no colliding bees though sometimes it takes a couple tries to land with a full load of pollen.
I have learned how to pick out the drones. They are bigger and look aimless. This is because their only job, if they are lucky, is to mate with a virgin queen once and then get killed. While they wait for this possible call to duty, they eat, loll around the hive, and take the occasional afternoon pleasure flight. The other day one pleasure flight ended with a drone spending a good hour or two walking around my fingers. Finally a worker bee got annoyed with my canoodling with a drone and came over and stung me. Worker bees are all female. The drones are all male. This moment was the yin and yang of bees. I found it funny.
I have always talked a bit to the bees, but now we talk more. A lot more. This brings me to my second preoccupation of late. Good bee books. I went to Amazon.com for some conversation pointers. All my bee whispering left me with the feeling that perhaps I have not been asking the bees the right questions. That and the pissed off worker bee who stung me on the chest when I thought the romance was going so well.
Nothing succeeds like excess when it comes to books and so, I got myself quite a little collection of gems.
I really wish I had done this years ago. The only book I had until this cornucopia arrived was a grim little beekeeping book someone foisted on me when she was leaving beekeeping. And no wonder she left beekeeping. With this book as her guide, it must have been a struggle.
I tried to make myself read this book, but something about it put me off pretty much every technicality of beekeeping. Instead of thinking it was the book, I thought it was my inability to focus properly on scientific literature or that despite my love of bees, beekeeping technique was by necessity boring.
In retrospect, I really don’t think it was the science of beekeeping that was the problem or my mind. I think it was the book.
Let me share with you a sample. This is from the first page of the opening chapter. And let me tell you, its downhill from there.
“It is my firmly held opinion that this is a good time to join your local Beekeeping Association. Names and addresses of Secretaries can usually be found in Public Libraries. It has been my ill luck to come across a few, a very few, badly run Associations with lethargic officers, but the vast majority are lively and well organized by enthusiastic Secretaries and you will get much gratuitous help and advice from officers and members alike.”
Okay, probably wonderfully sound advice, but sadly, advice for a different era in which lethargic officers were all the fashion.
Mercifully, this is the Amazon.com era, and no sooner had I ordered a heap of books, but I had them in my hands to read while perched in the shadow of our hives.
The Queen Must Die by William Longgood grabbed me immediately with his opening description of bees doing something “not by the book”. Now that sounded like bees. The Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottum explained all the reasons why I had been taught by a fellow beekeeper to do this, that, and the other thing. However it was The Shamanic Way of the Bee by Simon Buxton that ripped through my honeycomb of ideas about bees and landed me in a whole new universe.
As I read this book, I remembered a bee shaman I had met many years back. He visited the farm during a trip to North America. Alberto was from the mountains of Ecuador. His family made their living selling propolis from his hives. He slept with his head on one of his hives because of the sound the bees make. He told me how profoundly powerful that sound is. He indicated it was a sound of such pure divinity that it was more than just a healing experience to listen to this noise. I gathered that being with this noise was an integral part of his being a shaman.
Alberto was a beautiful man with an infectious enthusiasm for whatever he was looking at, be it a GameBoy game or a Flower blossom. He dressed in white with his long black hair parted in the center. When he saw our beehives, he made a beeline to them. He asked me for an empty canning jar which he filled with a handful of bees. Then he came back and started to place them on various parts of his interpreter’s body. He arranged the bees to sting her in particular spots. He had the bees sting her several times on her forehead over her third eye. All the while, he continued to have her translate for him.
He told me that bees never sting anyone by accident. He explained that the stings were always to bring healing and that the placement of the bee’s sting was always precisely in the right place. Stings could release anger, fear, and other strong emotions as well as bring better health and harmony to a person. This resonated with me and has informed my actions around the bees ever since. When I go out to be with them, I try to get in a meditative state and then stay there no matter what the bees do. If I get worried when they begin to act irritated, I stop and settle myself before proceeding. If I am out amongst them without any protective gear on, I talk to them when they begin to buzz around me in an agitated state and explain why I am messing with their hive. If stung, I try to be grateful for its gift of healing.
Bees will only go as far as they need to go to find Flowers with good pollen and nectar. Worker bees travel about 55,000 miles to gather enough nectar for a pound of honey. But this mileage is most short flights back and forth to the hives. A colony of beehives works a territory not much bigger than six miles in diameter. Beekeeper’s sometimes guard their bee’s territory from new hives. I learned this in an alarming fashion when another beekeeper wheeled into my driveway mid temper tantrum because we had not asked him before getting bees. He stomped around yelling that my bees were going to take food away from HIS bees. Fortunately, when the dust settled, there was enough Red Clover and Goldenrod and other choice food for the bees in all our hives. And the hotheaded beekeeper lost interest in the whole thing anyways. Within a year or so, our bees had no other beehives in the neighborhood.
Alberto told me that bees balance the energies of whatever land they work. I have mentioned this before in my description in the Guide of Honeybees in the White Hawthorn, an Essence that was created after my inservice with Alberto. I have had years to learn what Alberto meant by this remark, but I suspect I still have no idea of all that he meant. Most of what I have learned has come from observing how Honeybees in the White Hawthorn with its imprint of the bee’s vibration has been used as a harmonizer and balancer by people and animals. We have heard tell and born witness to this Essence’s support to smooth out spikes and difficulties on the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual fronts. Sugar management, hormonal management, anger management, and depression are just a few of situations in which this Essence has served people deeply. These days, when I sit by the hive, lulled by the noise of the bees, such a vibration of calm fills me. I am so glad we have done our best to offer this energetic in a vibrational form of this Essence. And I realize how the bees work on this land has informed and improved ALL the Essences we have made here.
The other day a new colleague of Ben’s told him that he was planning to put in an orchard. Ben mentioned he might also consider getting honeybees. The man looked at Ben as if he were a bit cracked. People don’t seem aware of either the gift of pollination let alone the more esoteric gift of energetic balancing. Without honeybees one third of all the foods we eat would disappear. This is because these plants are dependent on honeybees for the pollination. No pollination, no fruit.
Pollination is the meeting of pollen, transported on the bees’ legs, to the receiving structure or stigma at the center of the Flower. The worker bees that collect pollen from the Flowers collect it on pellets on their back legs. As they travel from Flower to Flower, this pollen brushes off on the stigma and a seed pod (fruit or vegetable or nut to us) is begun. No pollination, no fruit
Alberto spoke about this issue as well. There are virtually no wild beehives in North America now. Mites and other new health challenges have wiped out the wild population and discouraged a lot of beekeepers from beekeeping because many years people lose most of their hives to these new predators. This means that agriculture and the harmony of any piece of land is more and more dependent on people choosing to keep bees. Alberto said that this lack of bees was a sign of our spiritual crisis and a major energetic problem for North America. His words have kept me going with beekeeping through the difficulties of losing hives.
As I begin to dive into the words of another Bee Shaman, Simon Buxton, and spend more time at the hives, I begin to dimly grasp a bigger picture of honeybees here at Green Hope Farm. I viscerally understand that they have been an integral part of the Essences right since the very first Flower Essence was made. I feel the connective healing pattern that the bees have created with their movement in the farm’s energy grid. I see a bit more clearly their role in the creation of each garden’s energies, the energetics of the whole of Green Hope Farm, and every Essence created here. I don’t have any words yet for the way an intensified focus on bees is reflected in this year’s yet to be born Venus Garden creation, but I feel it. This Essence combination. which will be made very soon, is a gift of all creation and the bees are among the energy masters making this so.
I look forward to creating this Essence and bringing through as best I can the words to describe the healing pattern of this new remedy. One thing I think about as I get ready to be the hands making this Essence mix is something Simon Buxton mentions in his book. Beekeepers are known to be very healthy and live very long lives. This is something so well known that a number of medical studies have been done about this phenomena. What was discovered in the three medical studies mentioned in Simon’s book is that there is only one known or recorded instance of a beekeeper getting cancer. This was a beekeeper in Hawaii who got skin cancer. The medical researchers traveling the globe were unable to find a single other beekeeper that had cancer or died of cancer. While some might think it was the beautiful gifts of the honey, pollen or propolis that made this so, I think it is the vibration of the bees. The very humming that fills the ethers where they are and the very vibration I will continue to imprint into our Flower Essences with the help of all things divine and most specially the honeybees here in our gardens.