There was so much to delight the senses at the Learning from the Bees conference. From beautiful artwork, to soulful singing, to the feeling of beecentric hives in your fingers grasp, it was a delight. It was a delight to the senses and to the soul. It was mostly the unseen forces that truly delighted my being while being there amongst beelovers from around the world. I was in love. I don’t mean I was in love with anyone there, though everyone was quite lovely, but I was IN love; right smack in the middle of LOVE. While everything was speeding by too quickly, it felt as though I was in slow motion. I felt as though my inner being was vibrating with such powerful love that tears may come streaming down my face at any moment. And there definitely were moments of tears.
The Sun-god Re (Ra) wept again and the water from his eyes flowed to the ground and transformed itself into working bees, working in flowers and trees of all kinds,creating honey and wax from the tears of Ra. – passage found in ancient Egyptian scriptures
Artist Kyrinka Cramer quoted the above line with her art piece, Tears of Ra. She used honeycomb from a collapsed bee colony to create the tears shown below. She hopes the light from the honeycomb tears may shine a light in the dark places and continue the dialogue of the grief and how bees can be helped.
In my intro to the conference, I mentioned how I felt like a swarm of bees traveling to Holland. At the conference itself, I oscillated between feeling like a swarm of bees to feeling an individual bee in a swarm. Either way, I felt as if I was in the middle of pure, intensely gentle love.
I also felt as though I was traveling back and forth on the lemniscate, not just between full swarm being and individual bee, but also between sorrow and ecstacy. I felt as though I was walking a razor’s edge and the shift from one to the other was inevitable, if not somehow simultaneous.
One moment of ecstacy was during the constellation portion of The Mystery of the
Honeybees on the first night of the program. After we all had the opportunity to meet ourselves in others and ground ourselves, we were invited to enter space where we followed our body’s movements, without telling our bodies where to go. I have done this very movement many times, but the name Constellation, added a new understanding and layer for me. During this time, I felt my body swaying and slithering like a snake for awhile, walking a large lemniscate in the space provided. At some unseen cue, my body switched from serpentine energy to bee energy and I was magnetized to a spot. My eyes were closed and I was buzzing with ecstactic prayer. When we opened our eyes and talked about what we all felt and observed about our current positions, I was holding space for the inner circle of women, which seemed to be spiraling. I was asked if I felt I was a part of the spiral, but I was not. I was holding space for that spiral of women and I was singing with ecstacy.
It was in this heart space, that I began the next day with a beautiful talk with a bee mentor who I hold dear in my heart. The talk was about giving permission to self while standing at the threshold. All to often, we hold ourselves back when standing at a threshold or allow others to hold us back. If you stand at a threshold, you are there to decide if you want to step through to the other side. We have all crossed a threshold or ten in our lives. Some are more easily seen than others; graduation, marriage, living with a partner, taking a new job. Some thresholds are unseen, but we still sense them. Our senses can still relate to us the concept beyond what we sense. If you stand at the threshold and give yourself permission to step through, you may receive more understanding of what that “beyond” concept is that is pulling you forward. Stepping through is saying yes to creation. Something new is created; a chemical change occurs. Cells are transmuted and energy is rearranged, broken or bonded.
A wonderful morning hearing from Heidi Hermann of the Natural Beekeeping Trust about a more compassionate world of which we are a part. The statement that most sums up what I was left feeling from her speech, is that we humans need to help ourselves, not the bees. They don’t need the help; we do. A special thanks to Heidi for her clear listening of what the bees were asking of her for the inspiration of the conference. Without the bees, we would not have all gathered. Without Heidi’s listening, we also would not have gathered.
We also heard from professor, author and bee guardian Tom Seeley from Cornell University. Tom Seely, one of the most respected bee scientists of our time, studies the wild bees in Ithaca, New York. He has studied them meticulously for years and had this to say:
There was a bottleneck within the gene pool sometime between 1997-2011. In order to support the bees and allow them their health, we need to:
- Capture swarms from places with wild colonies (survivor genes)
- Disperse bees within our own apiaries (less spreading of disease)
- House bees in smaller hives
- Let the bees swarm (better genes, naturally breaks varroa cycles)
- Allow for propolis within the hive (harder for beekeeper, but better immunity for bees)
- Give colonies drones from survivor genes
Professor Peter Neumann from the Institute of Bee Health outlined the following in regards to what is most limiting to bees’ health and natural selection:
It was beautiful to finish up the morning with Deborah Post, creatrix of Honey Highway in the Netherlands. Miles and miles of “rivers” of flowers have been planted for the bees along roadsides to help support the bees through her project. What an inspiring thought to think of rivers of colors, blowing in the breeze, sharing their smells, colors, nectars and pollen with thousands of bees and other pollinators, while also beautifying our own space! I can just daydream about that for hours…in fact, I just might!