Spirituality of Bees

O.k. you knew I’d get there, right?  You’ve probably been counting to 100 saying, “Wait for it”. So, here it is.  As a spiritual seeker, ordained person and beekeeper, with a blogpost called “Think like a Bee”, it’s time.

So, I’ve been musing on this subject.  It is bigger than I.  I have a few crumbs to offer. Certainly there are a million tangents this could take.  But I will share with you some writings from this past week, which by the way, found me in Southwestern Colorado, the San Luis Valley.  It is ringed by mountains. Pockets of hot springs are scattered throughout.  Many of the famed 14-er peaks are there. Here’s a few other factoids from our favorite Oracle, Wikipedia.  Just in case you want to take a road trip.

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The San Luis Valley is an extensive high-altitude depositional basin in the U.S. state of Colorado with a small portion overlapping into New Mexico covering approximately 8,000 square miles (21,000 km2) and sitting at an average elevation of 7,664 feet (2,336 m) above sea level. The valley is a section of the Rio Grande Rift and is drained to the south by the Rio Grande, which rises in the San Juan Mountains to the west of the valley and flows south into New Mexico. The valley is approximately 122 miles (196 km) long and 74 miles (119 km) wide, extending from the Continental Divide on the northwest rim into New Mexico on the south. The San Luis Valley receives little precipitation and is made up of desert lands, but the temperatures can be very comfortable in the summer and very cold on winter nights.

So, I offer two things that seem to me to be about the “Spirit” of the bee e.g. it’s essence, it’s being, it’s connection to that which is Divine…communication and the love of light.

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Communication is not just relegated or confined to like species. Inter-species communication is an amazing thing. It is now known that bees have constant communication not only with one another, but with the plants they pollinate. “Flowers, which can be fickle by nature, are difficult to contend with. [They] may only be open for certain hours of the day, remaining open for varying length of time; some demand the right weather conditions before they will produce pollen and make it available” [1] Flowers of course have distinct bright, beautiful colors, patterns, scents. These make flowers all the more attractive for bees as they forage. But Flowers also have patterns with an ultraviolet spectrum, a petal temperature, texture and shape. “We’ve found that by producing these combinations of sensory stimuli, the plant basically makes its flowers easier for the bee to learn and remember” says Dr. Anne Leonard, a researcher from the University of Nevada.[2] And even more tintillating is that flowers have a slightly negative charge and bees have a positive charge from flying through the air. When bee meets flower, the electrical charge is neutralized so the next bee flying by, doesn’t need to stop and say hello, since she will know the flower has already been pollinated—it has lost its electric charge. Amazing. Inter-species communication.

One thing that has also become clear over decades of concerted research of bee colonies is that they are guided by an innate intelligence that often belies their insect category. They communicate with the celestial bodies and energy fields of the planet. Bees attune themselves to the magnetic field of the earth and orient themselves constantly to a huge universe beyond their hive, for a sense of direction. They orient their GPS systems to the great sun god, much as ancient human communities did. Though they live and work in complete darkness at home, they are light loving and will quickly move towards it if trapped in an unfamiliar place.   “Light to a bee represents warmth and life; it must be akin to the sun itself….moving towards sunlight is, for a bee, instinctive and logical” [3]

Every major religious tradition calls us towards the light and a deeper attunement to our deepest being, to the Divine and those around us. It is called many things—-enlightenment, transformation, bliss, nirvana, born again. The hard, often austere spiritual work that must be done with one’s own soul in order to achieve this light, requires finding and sweeping clean the cobwebs of our emotional baggage. It requires us to “wake up”. Become aware of our surroundings. Face our busy, distracted “monkey mind”, as the Buddhists teach. In the Eastern school of chakras, we must clear out and attune to our third eye or sixth sense. Or, as Jesus taught, allow our blindness to be healed, taking the log out of our own eye rather than trying to judgementally pluck the speck out of the eye of one’s enemy. The goal of all the great religious traditions is to allow the light to seep in. As the cracks begin to appear, perhaps a river begins to flow as the clogged channels are cleared. Once these gateways to the light are unstopped, they created pathways of new thought and clarity for the heart —-more readily open to the Divine’s Loving gaze and transformation. Perhaps the bees in their great love of light and flowers and a delicately honed sense of their surroundings, can show us the way to our own Source of Being as we begin to reflect upon and connect to their humble but focused lives.

[1] William Longgood, The Queen Must Die and Other Affairs of Bees and Men (NY, NY: W.W. Norton and Co, 1985) 70

[2] Adam Cole, NPR interview (February 22, 2013) “Honey , It’s Electric: Bees Sense Charge on Flowers”

[3] William Longgood, The Queen Must Die and Other Affairs of Bees and Men(NY, NY: W.W. Norton and Co, 1985) 55.

Not many bees to be seen, but they must’ve been out there with all the mounds of chamisa in bloom. This is one of my all time favorite places to be…I offer a few things from my time in this glorious place.

So

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