Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy Beltane!

In honor of May Day

It seems the bees have arrived just in time for Beltane! The blooming of spring has been celebrated across the centuries, blessing the fertility of the earth, new love and union. Last year, among a dear group of friends, I was chosen for May Queen. In our clan tradition, the May King and Queen represent the Divine Feminine and Masculine embodied in Union. What the Queen and King experience together and individually throughout the year, is potently reflected back on those who were present at Beltane.
This year has been one of the most fertile years of my life, flowing into new beginnings with my career, my spiritual path, beekeeping, my love life and my physical being. As I prepare to pass the torch to the new Queen, I am in delighted awe at the mystery of life's gifts and challenges.
Last Saturday, I collected not one, but two swarms. I gave the swarm on the lower branch to my dear friend Mistery, who has been actively building hives and pursuing bee wisdom with me. After speaking with a Sonoma-based beekeeper, we have discovered that the two swarms were most likely from the same original hive. They are sister swarms! The swarm from the upper branch mostly likely contains the original queen, while the swarm from the lower branch contains a virgin queen.
As the end of my year as May Queen comes to a close, I bring the hive's original Queen Bee to a new home. Soon, like me, she will likely be superseded by a new queen, and life will continue on, full and vital. As above, so below. What happens within, is reflected with out.

It reminds me, once again, that nothing is life is by accident. If we choose to see through our wisdom eyes, there is so very much the universe will reveal to us.

It has been an honor to hold this role and I am ready to pass on and find out what new gifts lay ahead.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Spring is trying its best to invoke the sunlight. Rain, snow, clouds and wind have blown through March and April with little respite. Now, it seems, every morning the birds band togetherin their multilingual choirs to ask the sun to please, please come out.
I'm banking on tomorrow because it's my birthday weekend!
Yesterday, during a sunny patch of the afternoon, I went out to watch the bees. For 4 days they have been busy making comb and becoming familiar with nearby forage. I've walked from pear blossom to apple blossom,
lilac to rosemary, tulip to daffodil and not a single bee. Every day I checked the hive, but no bees came back carrying pollen. The wild bees living in wall of my house (yes there are two hive here) continued to land their plump little bodies down on the hive entrance, laden with yellow and orange flower dust, but nothing from my bees...until yesterday!
Wild bees making home in my wall last July.
They survived the winter in fine shape even though they were a late swarm.

Pollen is what bees need to feed the brood. They store it in comb and made something called "bee bread" for everyone to eat. Yesterday the new bees started bringing in pollen for the first time, which means some comb is built and bees are gearing up for reproduction!

Also....did you know pollen isn't just yellow? I watched bees return home with bundles of yellow, orange, purple, green and white! Oh how I wish I could crawl in there myself.

I will not be inspecting my bees regularly like most modern beekeepers do. Instead, I told them I am giving them freedom to live as they please, without their home being ripped apart by my curious hands every week or two. So for now, no peeking; just listening, humming and watching.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Catching the Heart Swarm

This is the footage of my first swarm. It was a cold, rainy Saturday in April, a day when bees typically would not swarm. Honeybees usually wait for a few warm days in a row (above 65) before they swarm. It is the bee's natural form of reproduction. When the colony feels healthy and large enough, they start building queen cells. Once a new queen is born and established (through feeding her royal jelly), the old queen takes about half the existing hive and flies optimistically into the warm spring air. They usually land on a nearby tree branch or post and wait while scout bees search the environs for a suitable home.

This is the time when bees are most docile and least likely to sting, especially if you talk to them and let them know your intentions. They can sense fear, unease and negative intent and will react defensively. However, if you approach them with love and respect, the whole event can be fairly effortless.
Someday I plan to do this without gloves or maybe even a veil.

Take a look at my first try!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Images of Saturday's Swarms

The Heart Swarm after the lower swarm has been collected.

The two lower swarms which I combined into one hive.

Talking to the bees before collecting them

Honeybees on my fingers.

Sweet little bees.

Where is the Queen?

Hello everyone. I am so very grateful to the bees of Jacquie's farm for allowing me to invite them into a new home. This blog is titled Honeybee Mama because I found out I was pregnant during the building of my very first hive. A week and a half ago I was hospitalized and lost the baby at 11 weeks. It was devastating, but also an incredible rite of passage into the realm of Trust and Unconditional Love. There is a beautiful and long story around the synchronicity of bees, babies and myself, but it will have to be told in future posts. Suffice to say, on Wednesday my partner and I buried my placenta underneath my empty topbar hive box called "The Cradle", due to its inviting shape. Three days later, on what would have been the three month marker of my pregnancy, I receive a call: two swarms had landed in an apple tree out at a local organic farm.
In the ancient Shamanic bee tradition of England, (read Shamanic Way of the Bee by Simon Buxton) the Queen Bee is called The Queen of Synchronicity. In the overwhelming grief of losing my baby, I have been blessed with the awareness of Divine Timing in all things. Nothing around bees and I has ever happened by accident. I am posting this in deep gratitude for the incredible wisdom and love of the species.

The swarm is in the shape of a heart!

I will get pregnant again, so the Honeybee Mama name stays. I can't imagine anything more healing and whole than a big pregnant belly, a sunny day and a hive of bees talking and humming to the little being growing inside.

This video is a close-up of the swarm pre-capture (or should I say before I offered them a new home). In it you will hear the voices of two beautiful little girls who bravely climbed up the ladder to meet the bees. Children are our teachers time and again. When fostered among nature, they develop such a deep kinship to the Earth Kingdoms. What a gift that we can learn through children and bees to let go of fear and experience trust.

And all for love,


Saturday, April 23, 2011

In honor of catching my first swarm of bees I have decided to start a blog to track my progress as a friend of the bees. Hope you enjoy this picture of the hive I caught today. Much more to come.