For the love of bees

 

Can there be a more evocative sound of the abundance of summer than that of the hum of the bee as she busies herself in the flowers, collecting sweet nectar to mature into honey? Here at the Awakened Forest Project, I am passionate about the honeybee. They are teachers, supporters, sisters and brothers.

Bees, like so many species today, are in crisis. Globally, more and more often whole colonies die or disappear without a trace with no apparent cause. This is called colony collapse disorder (CCD). They are host to an increasing number of parasites of which the Varroa mite is the most significant threat in Europe. Although there is speculation as to the cause of CCD and the rise of Varroa to us it is very clear. Bees and their, often agricultural, environments are routinely soaked with chemical pesticides. Many beekeepers in order to combat the parasites resort to using toxic pesticides yaer after year inside the hives. 

The hive is a complex ecosystem where the bees ferment food for the larvae (bee bread) and mature nectar into honey. The harsh toxic chemicals throw this precise ecosystem out of balance, and as a result, the bees are weakened and their immune systems compromised. The bees are a warning to us all, a canary in the mine, to show us that we can’t keep using toxic biocides in the environment without devastating consequences. They are showing us what until now we have refused to see. 

Here in the Serra do Açor we are blessed with an unpolluted environment, largely free from chemicals. The air and water are clean and the mountainsides here are bursting with bee forage nearly all year from pioneer plants such as broom (Genisteae spp.), through to the beautiful purple stains of heather (Calluna vulgaris) moving up the mountains in spring, summer and autumn, the chestnut bloom in high summer and even the eucalyptus trees in the depth of winter. The honey from these mountains is dark and nutritious. The forage times are longer here too because of the microclimates provided by the mountains and valleys; the same plant can be in bloom over a long period and as the bees fly 3km to find their flowers they can seek out the still flowering plants. Another advantage to our bees is that we are isolated by geography from other hives reducing the risk of the spread of parasites and disease, which is a significant problem in other areas. 

I am finding more natural ways to work with the bees and shifting the emphasis from a consumer-producer relationship to that of partners in the regeneration of land and health. I believe we can increase bee health with our natural styles of hives and more gentle beekeeping methods. Over the years, led by the bees themselves I have developed a style of bee-keeping I call bee-led bee-keeping. The fundamental principle of this is that bees are sentient, wisdom keepers that have much to tell us about what they want and need to thrive. Another principle is to always interact with the bees with respect; they are sentient beings with their own destiny outside of providing honey for people. I do not make a regular honey harvest but wait for the bees to offer it which can happen every two or three years or so but might not happen at all depending on the hive and climatic circumstances. Asking permission before any intervention is a given for me. And sometimes they say 'No' they don't want to be opened today. I have learnt to respect their wishes no matter how much I want to look inside. 

I communicate with our bees. I silently ‘talk’ to them and sometimes I hear what they have to say to me. In 2015 a friend who is writing a book about endangered species for children asked if the bees had any message for us humans. So one evening, I sat quietly in the forest and I asked the bees what they wanted to say and this what I heard from the Deva of the Queen Bee;

“We want to work with humans. We want to help us all to go forward. It is not that science and ‘progress’ are bad but they are not the full picture. Blinded as you are by reason you are also blinded to the consequences of your actions when they are inconvenient. 
We have to do something about the saturation of the environment in toxic chemicals. The pesticides and fungicides are weakening all – not just us bees – ALL life, including humans. We are the canary in the mine. We are dying to show you. To shock you into realising what is going on, the effects of your actions. We are not the first, remember the Silent Spring? [a book by Rachel Carson, written in 1969 highlighting the killing of wildlife, especially birds, by pesticides in the US]

But perhaps you will take more notice than you did then because you see you need us for your food supply.
 We are dying because we are weakened physically and energetically and so are you! You do not realise this because of your longer lives but look at your epidemics: depression, fatigue, confusion, separation, cancer the list could go on. This is from your toxic environment. We are not evolved to cope with this either. It affects our nervous system it compromises our immune systems. We are not designed for this and we will not take it anymore.


We implore you to wake up! Do whatever you can do to rid yourselves of these biocides. Do not take it anymore. At whatever seeming risk or sacrifice stop using pesticides! 
Stop buying chemically soaked food. Stop buying processed food. Eat whole food. For all our sakes. It is no coincidence that it is us – the pollinating honeybee – provider and facilitator of your food that is to warn you that the way you grow and process your food is killing us all.
 If you want to make a change. If you want to ‘save’ us then stop the chemical warfare on the planet and start with clean, whole food.


A note for beekeepers:
 I know it is hard for you, confusing and challenging. For those of you attempting natural methods, we appreciate your efforts. Keep going, exploring, learning. We will help you all we can.
 For those of you using toxic chemical and industrialized methods; we can’t take much more. We will leave you.


We the bees are here to fully support evolution and at this point, the evolution of the consciousness of mankind is our focus. We love mankind as we love our treasured planet. We will continue to do all we can. Please join us."

Whether or not you believe in interspecies communication the message is the same; we can all to take positive action now to help the bees in very simple but meaningful ways. Here we feel it is our joy as well as our duty to keep bees and go some way to repairing the sacred relationship between humankind and bee.

 

Events

Practical Ecosystem Restoration
 
Helping Nature to get back on her feet after years of monoculture and wildfires.
 
Practical Ecosystem Restoration
 
Would you like to come and help plant some native forest, learn about ecosystem regeneration and reconnect with Nature and yourself? Then join us on an Awakened Forest Project work weekend.
Quinta da Floresta, Benfeita - Sunday December 1st 10.30 - 4pm

Another opportunity to begin to learn the art and science of foraging in our beautiful valley in the Serra do Açor.

Quinta da Floresta, Benfeita - June 2020

People have retreated to wild places for millennia to find inner peace and a greater perspective on life. Nature, in it’s simplicity and beauty, supports a profound relaxation in body, mind and soul.

LATEST BLOG POSTS

It has been a long time since I have written a blog post because so much has been ongoingly changing in the last year. I wanted to wait until the dust and ash had settled and I knew where I would be before I wrote.

Many of the plants and trees the bees and other insects thrive on have burnt in the October fires and will not be flowering this year and some not next year either if they recover at all. Here are my suggestions on how to help the pollinators through these lean times.

God these are heartbreaking times. Rain that was so longed for in the summer is now pouring off these hills taking soil and stone and track with it onto the terraces and into rivers.

 

Many people have asked us how they can help in the wake of the fires and all we have lost. We are very touched and grateful for these offers of support. Here are some ways you can help:

 
We have started building the second floor of the workshop!! This will be our last major build here and will provide a dormitory and meditation/workshop room which will increase our capacities for events and hosting people, especially outside of the summer months.