Back in October, while winterizing the Algarden hives, I got stung 3 times. I have been working with bees for 4 years now and have been stung many times. But this time, I had an unexpected, unfortunate and much dreaded anaphylactic allergic reaction. I had to give myself the epipan shoot. The experience was shocking, scary and an absolute adrenaline rush. Fortunately, I was ok, and the bees were ready for the winter so I had some time to think about what to do with the bees and how to re-establish my relationship with them before having to open the hive again.
artwork by my dear friend Sunny Solwind
Bees have thought me so much. The way I garden has been affected by the bees, I always make sure to let my vegetables go to seed so the bees can enjoy the flowers. I make sure there is nectar available for my bees year round, flowers have a new meaning. My view of our integral interconnections with nature, with food, with the universe, with all bee-ings has been forever transformed. I have learned about the "Bien" (bee in German is: Biene) The concept of the bien represents the undividable entity of the hive, as something which is beyond the sum of its small and many parts. Bees have taught me lessons about social life and how to treat each other. I learned about the different mythological and symbolic expressions of bees throughout the world. Nowhere to begin understanding the perfect geometry they are able to create to maximize space and storage. Their zonohedral geometry has set me on a magical journey unlike any other. It will be impossible for me to describe the spiritual connections and experiences that I have had with this magical bee-ings so I won't , and no words can describe the sweetness of their honey and how much I have enjoyed it...
Later, in a ceremonial journey, I became a bee! I was able to experience the immense grief that the bees are experiencing. The tremendous loss not just to their species but to ours and the great devastation we are inflicting on our beloved pacha mama. It was a sadness unlike any I have ever experienced, the sadness of an entire species. At that moment, I surrendered to the great mystery and asked what I could do. How I could be of service. The answer was not clear, but later that month I received an invitation to join the College of the Melissae. I was so excited to learn about this group of like-minded woman working around the magic and mystical wonders of the bees. I signed up right away to the one year program on sacred bee keeping.
I knew it then, that my calling was to be a bee priestess. To teach and protect our bees. My dream is still formulating but I want to create a bee sanctuary, a sanctuary for bee-ings. A place to bee with the bees and learn about them, heal with them and through them. I do not know the specifics yet, I'm letting the mind wonder and dream for the time bee-ing and I trust that the bees will continue to guide me in the full manifestation of this space.
For the time being, I'm finding ways to stay involved and connected to the work that is being done to preserve and educate about bees. I attended the bee symposium and we talked about ways to implement flower rows to industrial agriculture, especially for the almond industry in California which produces 95% of almonds in the US and is dependent on bee pollination. Thousands of hives from all over the country get trucked to the area for the 3 weeks that the trees are blooming and then trucked somewhere else as it becomes a food dessert for pollinators. As a Landscape Architect I see myself as being able to play a role in the environmental planning and design of large agricultural spaces to build habitat for pollinators. That is, after all, the quintessential goal of Foodscaping, creating productive landscapes for all species.
Next week I'm going to visit the "Centro de Investigacion y Rescate de la Melipona Maya" The Research and Rescue Center of the Meliponia Maya Stingless Bee in Tulum. The Melipona is an endangered specie and this center is working with local people to teach them how to establish hives, care for them and promote habitat. I'm looking forward to meeting the Melipona and learning some lessons from this group and what they are doing.
I also took the first steep in my educator role and taught my first bee-keeping class, I could not be happier! My students are phenomenal and a great motivation. We opened up both hives (Estela and Gloria - my grandmothers,) we found the queens. They looked great, big, healthy, laying eggs, and ready for the spring. I'm so grateful that they survived the winter. The bees bee-haved like the true ladies that they are and no one got stung. We were all gentle and the experience was beautiful. I had missed my bees so much. Bee-ing in their buzzing is the best medicine. Bee-coming one with the hive is an experience unlike any other and I highly recommend for everybody to experience it at least once in their life time.
I believe that the allergic reaction I had was a call for action from the bees. It is a big challenge but I'm feeling inspired and up for the task. It is a project that will require the help of many and I'm infinitely grateful for all for your constant and future support through this experience of bee-ing.