As a child, my sister and I would walk to our neighbour’s farm ~ a good couple of miles away ~ along dusty roads, through cultivated fields, and then scrubland. Nestled beneath eucalyptus trees were bee hives. But long before we saw the hives, we’d smell them. The fragrance of honey on the breeze was always so welcoming. We were never bitten by the bees, and the memory of those walks evokes such a lovely feeling for me.
For the longest time I’ve wanted to have beehives. But you know, like most things in life, the time has to be right. While writing my novel, Sisters of the Silver Moon (publishing June 2015), I have been immersed in the magical world of bees. I have been right there, with my leading lady, Azaria Linden, as she tends her bees. And frankly, I was more than a bit jealous of her lovely wildflower meadow and beehives.
When you see a bee or think of bees, what is your first thought/feeling? Is it one of fear? Are you terrified of being stung? Or, like me, do you feel like a ‘friend’ is nearby? Do you marvel as they visit flowers in the garden? Perhaps you leave out dishes of water for them? Is your garden free of toxic chemicals? Maybe you plant bee-friendly flowers?
It is interesting to me that, astrologically, many astrologers might well put bees under the rulership of Mars or Scorpio, because of the sting. But that is to completely miss the point of these amazing creatures. No, as far as I’m concerned, bees are ruled by Venus. And perhaps it is because, in my natal chart, I have the Moon (mother, emotions, nurturing), Venus (love, attraction, pleasure) and Neptune (spirituality, divine love) conjunct that I am so enamoured by the world of bees.
It is worth bearing in mind that a bee will only sting if it thinks its food is being stolen. Given that the bee will die after stinging someone, I imagine it’s a last resort for them to inject their venom. Their nature isn’t to be violent or dangerous, but quite the opposite.
Someone asked me the other day ‘what is it that appeals to you about the process of keeping bees?’
I can’t really do it justice with a blog, but here goes:
For years I have vacillated between vegan and vegetarian. I can live without cheese and eggs but honey isn’t so easy for me. It’s not about greed, but because I feel humans have eaten honey for all of their time on Earth. I have looked into the ethics of beekeeping, and yes, with conventional beekeeping it is a cruel industry. But, like my heroine in Sisters of the Silver Moon, it doesn’t have to be like that. We can be shamanic beekeepers and work with the bees. We do not have to kill them, or use hives which don’t support the natural way in which bees work. We don’t have to smoke them or have an antagonistic relationship with bees. And we don’t have to introduce alien queen bees or replace queens every year. And, most importantly, we do not have to steal all the honey.
I also believe passionately in talking to bees. Traditionally, beekeepers would tell the bees about all major events in the life of their family: births, marriages, deaths and so on.
Next week I’m getting a top-bar hive for my garden. A top-bar hive is a single-storey frameless beehive in which the comb hangs from removable bars. With a horizontal top-bar hive, beekeepers don’t have to lift heavy boxes, or agitate the bees.
I am drawn to the top-bar hive because it is sustainable, doesn’t use synthetic chemicals, is low cost, easy to learn, and good for the bees.
So, what is it I love about bees? They’re highly social, and their community is based on teamwork. Their hive is made of hexagons. These beeswax cells become honeycomb. Not only does their home store food, but it is where they raise their young. What can we learn about homemaking from bees? The Goddess Venus rules the sacred number six. (Hexagons have six sides). Six symbolises love, balance, union and communication.
A bee shows us, both in real time but also symbolically, what child-rearing in a natural, wholesome way, looks like. Within their home we find open communication, domestic harmony, stability and love. So, next time you see a bee nearby, reflect on these traits. Maybe you need more of them in your life, or perhaps it’s the Universe recognising the mothering you’re doing (of yourself or of your children). For me, the life of the bee family is a mirror for how I exist in family and in my soul community.
Now here is something that we could really learn from bees. In the hive, the Queen is supported by all the bees. But what about in human families? How well supported is a mother? Often she’s run off her feet, running a home and doing other jobs. She’s probably burning the midnight oil, too, and feels she barely has enough time to think. By nurturing the Queen Bee, the family continues to thrive and everyone gets the benefit. Bee life can remind us that being a martyr is not the path of motherhood. Mothers, take back your crown!
Honey, throughout time, has been associated with abundance, reward, nourishment and sweetness. Bees show us that our work is rewarded with fine gifts.
As someone who loves spending time in the garden, the bees remind me to tend my inner garden. Do I make sure my dreams are pollinated? Do I plant seeds of beauty in my heart? Am I feeding myself sweetness to ensure that my life is all it can be? The bees cause me to question if I’m being productive enough. They send messages about how to live a fertile and creative life. These amazing creatures also remind me to not become so much of a workaholic that I forget to taste the sweetness of my produce.
I hope today’s blog will help you to see bees in a new way.