Bee-come the Hive Mind

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In a blog entitled “Elites Don’t Understand Human Nature, But it’s Time They Learned” Joe Brewer , a complexity researcher who specializes in culture design explores the mess we are in as humanity.

He wonders at the fact that our society would allow the powers that be to destroy all that we hold valuable. In a 2016 blog post, Brewer writes:  ( and I’ll tell you, it’s worth reading the whole thing)

Here’s an amazing fact: It’s 2016 and humanity is collectively moving toward a future that nobody wants. We are literally going somewhere that will hurt every single one of us.

I have no clue what a cultural designer does, but his blog about elites, who continue to distance themselves from the rest of us with wealth, policies and politics that divide society and pretty much keep the economic pipelines flowing to the top 1% has alot of truth in it.

I wonder myself, almost every single day. How did we allow this to happen?

Instead of the better angels of our nature, we humans seem to be accelerating quickly to a cliff that we really don’t want to drive off.

Brewer actually has good words for humans.

Each of us is born precariously fragile from a mother’s womb. We would quickly die in those first few years if caregivers were not ever-present to feed us, wipe away our excrement, and protect us from harm. Human beings are deeply social creatures. We arise from the natural world and are profoundly immersed in webs of dependency from the first drawn breathe to the last wavering exhale.

The sciences of human nature tell us much more than this. Not only are we social beings, we are also deeply moral in nature.

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Time to take lessons again from the hive mind.  Like bees, we are deeply social creatures. It is in our nature to touch, to care for one another, to communicate, to belong. We need each other. We want to be a part of something bigger than our small selves. Working together for the common good brings great things to pass. It is mutually satisfying. Like bees, we humans are moral by nature in caring for the community, unless of course something goes horribly awry.

So what’s really going on here? Has something gone terribly awry?

Actually, I’m not sure elites in power ARE out of touch with human nature. They know all too well that a fully functional, healthy, whole community will bring about their downfall. It will not put up with their greedy, grabbing, profit driven ways. Splintering the ordinary masses by keeping us sick, impoverished, ignorant and in-fighting is in their best interests for power grabbing. United we stand, divided we fall. Works every time.

So, our work this year, more than ever, is not just to think like a bee but to become the hive mind—working together. Finding ways to connect the dots even across our divides. We cannot waste time over silly, stupid tweets and the ongoing drone of a media feeding frenzy over every single detail of this administration.

We must keep moving.

This year, thanks to the New Mexico Beekeepers Association, we will hear Dr. Tom Seeley speak about this “Hive Mind: Decision Making Secret of the Bees“. He is a bee researcher, particularly interested in their communication styles and communal decision making. He has written two incredibly timely books—–“Honeybee Democracy” (2010) and “Wisdom of the Hive” (1995). All are welcome to come to the events, February 2-3, 2018, at the Broadway cultural Center.

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I’ll see you there.

 

For the New Year…

It’s all I have to bring today –
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.
(Emily Dickinson, 1830 – 1886)
The bees and land are resting through these long nights and short days. But it is a restless and troubled sleep. The days often rocket from 20 degrees Farenheit at night to high 50’s during the day. Bees buzz around confused, certain that warm temps signal food somewhere. I hear the sucking sound of the dry soil, desperate to replenish the dormant roots with water.
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There is no moisture. My friend tells me that Albuquerque has gone 90 days without any precipitation. In two days we will have broken the record of 91 days without moisture in 1917. New Mexicans are accustomed to living on the razor’s edge of drought. Still, the dryness becomes worrisome. We need a decent snowpack for a fighting chance to survive the fire season next summer. Even if my bees were to survive the wildly swinging temperatures, the parasites and emptying winter honey stores— without proper moisture their prospects for food this year will be greatly diminished.
Meanwhile, the eastern coast is hammered by a “bomb cyclone” and frigid temps.
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As the East battles wind chills of -100 degrees, the Midwest has plummeted to single digits. I can’t even imagine the bodies of wild creatures, warm blooded, fleshy and tiny against this arctic blast. They live without the comfort of heated homes to retreat into when the weather grows monstrously unpredictable.
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Something is not right. Everywhere we turn there are super storms, fires, droughts. We can no longer be  on the fence about climate change. It looms like a freight train, bearing down on this planet. It seems clear that we have passed  the point of no return. We don’t know what kinds of catastrophic or micro-climate changes are queued up for the new year.
And still. In this new year,  I will continue to bring myself and my heart to all this that I love—the meadows wide, the clover fields where the bee dwells, the beleaguered New Mexico rivers acequias and aquifers, with oil and gas frackers circling like vultures…
What is your heart calling you to do in this new year?
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Solstice Dreams

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As the New Mexico solstice moon ripened into a sliver this longest night of the year, i dreamt, cozy in my down comforter, next to my beloveds. I was not alone. I slept alongside my bees, suspended in a heated, glowing fist of sleep.

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I dreamt of a new year, trembling on the horizon. In the night, I felt the anxiety of the shift we will live to face. It was a visceral sensation, haunting my night dreams. And in the secret dream world as I asked how I could serve this transition, I heard “You will know…”

I do not need to fear. Every being on earth is equipped with what we need for this coming year—including human beings. So, I look to the bees as my teacher. They teach me fortitude. They are the penultimate survivors, locally attuned. Incessantly adaptable no matter what the weather, food situation, or pest ravaging them. Resilient. Animated. Whether their life energy is poured out in the summer food forage for the hive body, or hanging dormant in winter, their tiny bodies radiating heat for the commonwealth.

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infrared light showing the heat from the winter bee cluster

Whether they will live through the winter, to see a new Spring, remains to be seen. But the return of the light. Ah. They know it. The queen is sensitive to the light. As daylight begins to creep back once again in this hemisphere, she notes the increase and begins to lay her eggs in anticipation for a new turning. As early as January, the honeycombs will begin to teem with new life, aching, longing for what may come with the Spring.

But meanwhile, we still live in the darkness. A time for rest. Rejuvenation. A time to set your intentions for 2018. To dream your dreams. To seed your imagination and prayers with all that is life affirming.

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Wendell Berry always says it better than anyone I know.

I woke this morning feeling solstice in my bones. Oh the swing away from darkling. Swing towards the light. Though hibernation will still feel apt, to move along in grace towards goals both outward and inward….And though the holiday season is monumentally topsy-turvy, I reach for the open spaces of empty pages, to plan, to poem, to story.

May you also find your gaze towards the light, towards the brightening horizon. May your find solstice blessings aplenty.

And while the dark still lasts, be well…

To Know the Dark 

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

We don’t know what the New Year will bring, but I seeded my dreams in that longest night of yesterday….

Think Like a Bee’s sole focus the next few years will be an epic project called the Rio Grande Watershed Story project. We will be collaborating with New Mexico Acequia Association and Ghost Ranch to connect youth, elders, and land based communities of New Mexico—remembering the stories of the land and water of New Mexico.  Documenting through videography, the precious story of agua é vida. Without safeguarding water, this precious living substance, there will be no life. Generations to come must remember and work on the front lines to protect her. It’s about bee life. Critters. Plants. Soil. Humans. All life.  I am passionate about this.

This is the way I will #resist in the New Year. One creative step at a time.

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In this waning year, 2017, I invite you to support our work.

click here to make a tax deductible donation on Paypal

Tax deductible checks can be made out to PES, our fiscal agent, and sent c/o PES, P.O. Box 6531, Albuquerque, NM 87197. note“THINK LIKE A BEE” in the memo line.

Have a blessed holidays with those you celebrate, serve and love.

bzzz.

Think Like A Bee is a tax exempt organization in the State of New Mexico

Giving back to the bees

Blessed Holidays All!

As you consider end of the year planning and giving to those things you believe in and want to see continue on the planet and in your ‘hood, please remember the bees!

If you missed our 2017 Summer Pollinator Week swarm funding event, I invite you to consider Think Like a Bee as part of your year end giving. We are truly grateful for all the ways you support this effort of education and advocacy on behalf of pollinators and humans. Bees give us so much. This is an opportunity to give back to that which supports pollinators and future generations who will care for them.

This upcoming year, thanks to a partial JustPax grant, we will have the opportunity to connect Indigenous youth with their elders for interviews—creating the Rio Grande Watershed Story Project. They will examine crucial issues of water, land and colonization here in New Mexico. This project will give youth a chance to sit with their elders and understand the complexity, importance and need to reverence and protect our land and watershed.

…to bring the narratives of those” colonized” who have lived as land based, agricultural people, to the settler communities, who have been part of the colonizing effort, often unwittingly. It is an opportunity to become more aware of who are our “neighbors” , our own history as settlers and the possibility of creating a new narrative for future generations in our watershed. (The Rio Grande Watershed Story Project)

This past year 2017 Think Like a Bee partnered with the City of Albuquerque Open Space to host a pollinator festival.

We celebrated the founding of Burque Bee City USA for our fair city!

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We ran a summer farm internship where youth learned life skills such as the ethic of hard work, teamwork, food as medicine, and showing up on time, alongside the daily growing of healthy organic food: soil composition, bee keeping 101, composting, seeds, hoop house growing and irrigation.

We were able to provide them all a summer stipend. Ten more youth without nature deficit. Ten youth who didn’t sit in front of their screens all summer. Ten youth who had an amazing hands on experience and made new friends across cultural boundaries and language.

They attended The Council of All Beings, where they made masks of animals and spoke through the voices of these silent ones to tell us humans something we need to hear for this time. The voices of wolf, sunflower, bear, cat, deer and so many others were profound and from the heart.

We visited Los Poblanos garden, lavender fields and lavender oil processing plant.

Many of the youth overcame their fear of bees to become proficient in basic beekeeping!

We learned about native bees from Lulu Sage and built casitas for them.

Every week the youth went off to market like little piggy wiggy, to meet the public and share their growing knowledge of food.

We had a blowout potluck with parents and siblings, celebrating and graduating our youth with honors  in a special sacred ceremony.

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Thanks to my incredible colleagues, who made it possible!

Next year we have high hopes to continue our youth farmer internship, and we look forward to our Rio Grande Watershed Story project which will teach youth media skills as well as immerse them in the stories of our New Mexican elders.

With pollinators continuing to decline and facing a steady struggle for a healthy habitat and eco-system, Think Like A Bee will work on behalf of education and advocacy locally and statewide.

I hope you’ll support our work. Thank you!

click here to make a tax deductible donation on Paypal

Tax deductible checks can be made out to PES and sent c/o PES, P.O. Box 6531, Albuquerque, NM 87197. Please put “THINK LIKE A BEE” in the memo line.

Have a blessed holidays with those you celebrate, serve and love.

bzzz.

 

Think Like A Bee is a tax exempt organization in the State of New Mexico

 

What’s best for bees?

Thinking like a bee is a daily adventure.

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These days, the exponential rise of backyard beekeeping is on my mind. It’s interesting that human consciousness now includes a fascination and even compassion for the humble honeybee. Many, many people are eager to delve into the mystery and joys of beekeeping.

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But if drought continues to squeeze the Southwest, if warming temperature patterns keep the bees from going dormant and thus eating their winter honey, if humans keep demolishing bee habitat, and if the varroa mites continues to explode without any eradication in sight, then beekeeping is going to become alot less fun. Fast.

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The challenges and vicissitudes of beekeeping still don’t outweigh the joy of beekeeping for me….yet. But if my past year is any indicator, it’s not going to become any easier.

So I marvel and puzzle at the fiery excitement that I still see in most new beekeepers. In a way, this might ensure their survival—as those who love bees learn about them and fight to protect them—hive by hive.

Meanwhile, I try to imagine what a future bee might be thinking these days. They will be coming into the world as it is, what would a bee think as it faces the survivalist game on the horizon?

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A pesky little bee keeps buzzing inside my head with this thought : “take care of the native bees in your backyard and then we European bees will be able to collaborate and even succeed”. And this, “Don’t push out us native bees. We are much more adaptable and indigenous to this country than our introduced European counterparts, the honeybee”.

In any situation of colonization or invasive species, which is surely the case for native bees on this continent, some human being or creature has fallen on hard times as they see their resources dry up, disappear, be overwhelmed and stolen.

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In this case, native bees suffer the same problems of honeybees, but largely go unnoticed because they are not seen as economic indicators. Though they give us the same amazing, free pollinator service, they are largely solitary and do not produce honey for the human species. This renders them invisible. They are often the colonized ones.

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Recently a friend handed me an excellent article from the Costco Connection. Yep. That’s right. The food giant, CostCo, has its own publication and even supports bee research to the tune of $2.3 million in 2012. They suggest that not everyone needs to get into the honeybee biz. By supporting native pollinator habitat in your yard and communities, and laying off the pesticides/insecticides, you further the whole phyllum and kingdom of apis mellifera and native species.

They said it better than I can, so I will quote from their July 2017 article called “Bees in Peril: Working together to find a solution”.

Installing a beehive in your backyard may not be the best way to help honeybees. Downey makes this comparison: “Pandas are in trouble; I’m going to get one”. This makes no sense at all, but people often think that keeping bees is the only way to help them…unfortunately it’s not that simple to keep bees alive and thriving, and if the colony is dead a year later, nobody wins. Providing habitat and supporting research are good ways to help. Lack of proper care can also create a host for pests to grow in; then those pests can move to another bee colony, Barkman says. (p. 35)

Ordinary homeowners and apartment dwellers, your contributions of habitat, large and small, count! Everyone can be a bee protector by offering pollinator food on your balcony, in your backyard or rooftop garden.

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Spring is right around the corner. Prepare your gardens now!

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Thank you Silver City Beeks!

This past week I had the distinct privilege of visiting Silver City, New Mexico at the invitation of my bee friend Susan Clair, the force of nature behind our two year beekeeping certification program here in Duke City.  She has moved down south and now is working her magic to organize a Bee City in southern New Mexico. I have no doubt she and her club will be successful. This would be Bee City #2 here in New Mexico!

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One thing I noticed everywhere in Silver City, were native pollinator gardens. Come to find out, they have a very active master gardener club that has taken over public spaces to make them beautiful as well as important habitat for pollinators.

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I learned recently about the million pollinator garden challenge. Wouldn’t it be absolutely brilliantly amazing if communities all across this country took this challenge on? It begins home by home—in your backyard!

 

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The main reason reason I wandered down to Silver City, was to give the Bee City USA presentation and share our experience of becoming a Bee City USA here in Burque. I found Silver City to be an eclectic group of people carving out a living or retirement—depending on which edge of the age spectrum you reside—but certainly not sitting around and letting moss gather underfoot. I met small business owners and many well educated retirees finding the warmer climate and culture very amenable. Those recent transplants who had retired to Silver City were busy re-tooling for new enterprises —bringing a wonderful vitality and rich life experience to the community. The food was great, hospitality huge and passion for pollinators pleasantly surprising. It is a perfect storm for creating a Bee City!

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As I flew home on the single prop, tiny 10 seater plane called Boutique Air (who knew… They fly daily out of Albuquerque?!) I waxed poetic flying over the landscape. Having never flown over the Gila Wilderness and southern New Mexico before in such an intimate way, I was mesmerized.

Skies as wide as a New Mexico smile, the land unrolling like a human body. Rock shelves and mesas like high cheek bones….the bridge of a nose or a bony sacrum. Ruffled river beds like flowing Rapunzel locks and receding hairlines. Rivulets of zigzagging arroyos like birth scars or varicose veins. The color of rock like so many human skin tones. The Gobi desert colliding with a Kenyan Savannah.

The vast Gila with majestic curves heaped up into hillocks and mountains, dotted with Ponderosa pine forests or scraggly, scrubby beard.

 

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I was reminded of how precious is this planet and how worthy of loving and preserving to the best of our ability.

Thank you Silver City Beeks…for everything.

I’m rooting for you!

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Where Have All the Bugs Gone?

The war on bugs has been going on a long time. It is making humans and our earth sick. Sadly, the chemicals impact the whole food chain. All the way to the top.

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And unfortunately, the bugs are losing…though many humans are cheering their extinction. Ultimately, they are only the first in a chain reaction of extinctions.

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The flying community messes up our windshields, eats our crops and otherwise fills our invisible air with visible life. But sadly, it’s not just the pesky ones we are saying good bye to, it’s also the multitudinous beneficials—some whom we will never meet in our gardens. The pesky pests will continue to re-invent themselves and become resistant and resilient to all our chemicals. It’s the more vulnerable beneficials that we need for our gardens to grow, that we must fall in love with— bees, lady bugs, green lacewings, praying mantis’, and many more.

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They are the ones that worry me. Once they are gone, our natural insurance against massive pestilence and any hope in balancing the eco-system we have so destroyed, becomes alot harder. Chemical companies will be delighted to have our business, once the bio-force of bugs is gone.

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So much to lament.

Scientists have raised the alarm after a study 27 years in the making found the biomass of flying insects in nature protected areas has declined by more than 75% since 1990. The causes of the decline are not fully understood.

The decline of Europe’s bee populations has been on policy-makers’ radars for some time. Less attention has been paid to the plight of other flying insects but a study published in scientific journal Plos One in October has revealed that they too have declined in both diversity and abundance in the last quarter of a century…

Flying insects are a vital part of many ecosystems: they pollinate 80% of plant species and some 60% of birds rely on them as a source of food. They are also an important source of protein for many mammals and a key part of the nutrient cycle.

“Recently reported declines in several [insects] such as butterflies, wild bees and moths are in parallel with a severe loss of total aerial insect biomass, suggesting that it is not only the vulnerable species, but the flying insect community as a whole; that has been decimated over the last few decades,” the study said.  (Informed Comment, by Samuel White, Nov. 4, 2017)

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Agriculture in this country is moving towards a healthy holistic management of growing food that takes into consideration all aspects, which leads to a balanced, healthy food delivery system.

Recently in an article in The New Food Economy, Sophia Mendelson writes, “These farmers are building a post-pesticide future, but first we’re going to have to get less squeamish about bugs.” Integrated pest management is not about how to best kill pests and diseases—it’s about how to best promote crop health and soil health and farm ecosystem health,” Neukirch says. That being the case, Campbell-Nelson says, “I do wonder if it’s time to have a shift in terminology and understanding.” Instead of integrated pest management, she suggests integrated crop management.

It’s about our obsession as a society for perfectly colored, shiny, flawless looking “plastic” food that can be mass produced. Food that has no nutritional content because it’s been doused, gassed, waxed, and flown thousands of miles. But it looks nice and fools us into thinking it’s healthy.

It’s about supporting and demanding that local agriculture give us “real” food and make it affordable for all. It may even have a worm, a discoloration, or a flaw in it.

Food. We live and die by it.

 

One Beautiful Thing

These past weeks, I have been trying to prepare my bees for winter. Colony collapse has become very real for me. I find in these waning Autumn days that beekeeping has lost the charm and childlike joy and wonder of my first love. At the end of the season, I am in the slog, fighting for their survival, hive by hive. Like any long term relationship, the honeymoon is over. Seems the more I know, the more painful it is when reality hits. Some days, I just want to return to the blissful ignorance of the wonder years.

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Commiserating with one of my veteran beekeeper friends, she told me that she also is disheartened, weary and more disillusioned than usual at the end of this season. We are all acutely feeling the looming 40-50% die off rate. It’s just not enough to fight off the parasites and feed the hives facing starvation at the end of a bone dry late summer/fall—now we are facing disappearing queen bees. Hives going into the long, darkening cold of winter without a queen face low morale and sure death. You have to understand, a queen-less hive at the end of October is a nightmare for beekeepers and a devastating  prospect. There are likely no drones around to mate with a freshly emerged virgin queen. I’ve already faced this with half my hives.

As if to remind myself how disillusioned I am, I hear myself on the phone with a friendly citizen the other day. He calls to inquire as to whether I could come and remove some bees from an old shed in his backyard. Exasperated, I grill him about whether those bees were chasing his children or stinging his dog? Were they coming into his house or bothering him?  “Well, no”, he said hesitantly, “but they do buzz around sometime when we are on our back deck—they don’t sting or anything”. “Then can you just leave them alone for the winter?” I ask, frustration leaking out all over. I go on to tell him that there is a 50% chance they will die over the winter anyway from mites, hunger, queen death, chemicals, etc. etc.. With a sigh, I blurt out “We are losing the battle. Our bees are dying and it’s very hard to keep them alive these days.”

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Though this man didn’t ask for it, I ranted on about the tedious science of extracting bees at any time—the diceyness of their survival when removed from their home. But this late in the season, if we’ve ripped apart their house and jammed them into a makeshift hive after they’ve carefully prepared for winter, they would surely die.

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The man listened quietly, then said, almost apologetically, “Yes, let’s leave them alone for the winter and see what Spring brings”. Then, he kindly stated, “I know every bee is precious”.  I caught myself mid flight —in my own free fall into despair—profusely thanking him for his care of the bees.

It seems that each time I am dangerously close to despair, one beautiful thing  rises up, as though to remind me that death will never have the last word.

In this case, it was a perfect stranger’s conscientiousness and compassion.

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Today, I could feel the pit of dread in my stomach as I opened up a hive that had built multitudes of queen cells—indicating their last ditch effort to replace a dead queen. I faced the dismal job of removing all those queen cells, and then the unpleasant job of combining the dwindling numbers of my bees with a friend’s hive that had a queen with even fewer workers and barely any honey stores.

So, imagine my surprise, as I opened up the hive and a fat new queen was running about amongst the dwindling bees. I watched her gorgeousness for a moment til she disappeared, and then I closed them up in hushed awe.

But the crowning glory was found in a hive that I had just re-queened a few days earlier. The queen was still in her cage where I had placed her, though the girls had diligently chewed through half of the sugar plug, in hopes of freeing her. I pulled out the plug and put her cage on the floor of the hive, peering in on this sacred moment when her highness emerges from behind the wire. Would her new community welcome her or shun her? Would they attack her or would she be cheered by eager comrades? The girls swarmed around the cage, but were respectful of the now open door, leaving an avenue for her to step out. Finally one or two entered the cage and in a moment of welcome, convinced their new queen to come out and join them. Suddenly there she was, skittering out into the expectant crowd of bees and disappearing from my view.

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I felt like I had just witnessed a birth. Or a life redeemed. So small a moment, yet so profoundly life affirming.

One beautiful thing in a sea of despair.

Watch for it.

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Think Like a Bee, Even When the Darkness Grows.

Every day a new assault. On common decency and human honesty. On truth. On health and safety for all beings. On this beautiful planetary garden that is pure grace and abundant gift. On the most vulnerable among us. On institutions that have served to check obscene greed and community devastation. You name it.

 Along with James Taylor, I cry out, hard times come again no more…

It’s not that I don’t see the daily goodnesses. The small and large kindnesses. The beauty that’s left. The life affirming actions of so many. The movements rising up to stand in the face of such large and unnecessary suffering. I see them. I celebrate them. They are consolations in a time of such moral and physical desolation.

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Despite this, it doesn’t satisfy.  I am clear that our culture has created and now unleashed the beasts of devastation and darkness here and around the world. Sometimes the only way to awaken humans from our trances and idolatries, slow learners that we are, is to to rattle cages and kick us out of our comfort zones with hurricane force gales and waves.

And the consequences keep rolling in…

So I look to the bees.

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I remember the Book of Job, in the pit of despair, when everything he loved was destroyed. He heard a voice…

“now ask the beasts and they shall teach thee, the fowl of the air and they shall tell thee, speak to the earth and it shall teach thee, and the fishes of the sea and they shall declare unto thee…”(Job 12:7-8)

It’s time to look outside of our meager, myopic, self-centered existence—and find wisdom in the creation that we are a part of.

Here’s what Bill McKibben said:

The facts—the testimony of the psalmist, the evidence of our own eyes and ears, the emerging understanding of the atmospheric chemists—lead to the same conclusions that God draws for Job in his mighty speech. Our anthropocentric bias is swept away. The question becomes this: what will replace it?

Humility, first and foremost, that is certainly Job’s reaction. If we are not, as we currently believe, at the absolute epicenter of the created world, then we need to learn to humble ourselves.

Bees are pretty humble creatures. They teach me daily. They have plenty of their own woes. But they don’t complain much. Their main interest is in making sure the whole village is sustained. They live in the moment, attending to the problems and struggles of their daily existence with ingenuity, steadfastness and plodding dedication.

Believe me, for bees, (and me, the beekeeper) the troubles someday seem insurmountable. Chemical laden habitat, disease and mites, lack of pollen and nectar due to drought, unpredictable temperatures, poisoned water, queen bees dying right and left.

Meanwhile, here’s what the bees teach me.

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Live in the moment. Give thanks. Work for the common good. Face each struggle with new aplomb and ingenuity. Connect with something life giving day by day. It will give you what you need to carry on. And there’s more…

 

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This created world is an open book full of wisdom. Read it. Even the little postage stamp where you reside is chock full of teachings!

 

If the world as we know it ended tomorrow ….

…I’d want to head up to Heartland Farm in Pawnee Rock, Kansas. A farm from the past, a farm for the future. A place of rest. Peace. Kindness for all living beings.

Recently I visited this Dominican sisters retreat center/working farm. I was greeted by the Sisters, Jane, Mary Ellen and Imelda, and Adela, the WOOFER farm intern, and official alpaca whisperer.

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Strong women all of them. Including the alpacas, chickens, dogs, bees and other assorted critters.

 

The 80 acre property is an idyllic home to many creatures, human to bees. It has been owned by the Dominican sisters and was founded over 30 years ago. I stayed in a lovely Midwestern style wood frame farmhouse. It is open to all who want to come and retreat from the world and find a place of healing, solace, community and sustainability. I pulled up a chair to their dinner table and a home cooked meal full of garden veggies.

 

Oneness with the earth heals…Heartland Farm is committed to a strong Care of Earth ethic. This is expressed through choices both personal and communal which respect the health of the planet.  The farmstead includes a guesthouse for individuals or small groups, homes for resident community, gift shop and space for our alpacas and chickens. A straw bale arts studio includes a pottery and fiber arts space…

and a more remote straw bale hermitage offers off the grid solitude.

 

Packages offered include therapeutic massage, guided retreats, labyrinth walks, spiritual direction for retreatants—or just a fun place for family and friends to come and be nourished and reconnected on this healthy, well loved piece of land.

If you are planning a trip through the Kansas heartland, plan on stopping here. Incredibly reasonable and full of spirit.

I hope it won’t be long until I can return myself…