A 'frame' of bees from a wild hive.  The wild combs were trimmed and fitted into the wooden frame.  The bees soon glued it in place and are thriving in their new home.

melissae

Many ancient cultures such as the Greeks, Mayans and Egyptians envisioned the human soul as a bee.  The Mother Goddess, who represented Divinity manifested as the natural world, was envisioned as a queen bee.  

Artemis

The many-breasted Artemis of Ephesus is adorned with bees and other sacred animals.  She is one of the triad of Greek Goddesses, along with Demeter and Aphrodite, who were called "The Pure Mother Bee."  The priestesses of their temples were called Melissae, which means honeybees.

The Queen bee may lay her weight in eggs in a day, and eat her weight in royal jelly, a special food made by the attendant bees.  She provides a special perfume that the attendants absorb and spread throughout the hive, which informs them that they are all ONE being.  Scientists call this shared consciousness of the honeybees a 'super-organism'.  Ancients saw in the Queen bee the harmonizing, fecundating, feminine energy that made her a perfect symbol of the Mother Goddess.

A golden pendant from the ancient Minoan civilization demonstrates the reverence the ancients felt for bees.  Here the earth and moon are held in the embrace of two queens who are crowned by the sun. The moon is a drop of honey, which reflects the ancient belief that honey, Soma, originated as nectar of the moon.   

A Mayan shaman makes ritual offerings and prayers to the bees before harvesting honey.  Like most other ancient cultures, the Mayans revered the bees as Sacred beings and honey as a sacrament and food of the Gods.  The Mayans hold the bees in such esteem that if one bee is killed in the harvest, it must be carefully wrapped in leaves and ritually buried, before the harvest can continue. Below is a depiction of the Mayan bee god 'Mok Chi'.

A beautiful altar created during a ritual for the bees well-being at the Sanctuary.

 

The honeybees at our Sanctuary originated from wild colonies that we removed from homes or yards, and relocated to hive boxes.  These rescued colonies and their descendants have many important genetic traits and adaptations to our specific environment that have been bred out of the bees produced by commercial bee breeders.   Through allowing our bees to swarm and reproduce naturally, and by not 're-queening' (killing older, less productive queens), we are cultivating a seed bank of genetically diverse bees who are able to survive without constant interventions and treatments (miticides, antibiotics, feeding corn-syrup) by the beekeeper.  We trust the innate wisdom of this species, which has allowed it to survive on this planet for the past 40 million years... through ice ages and dinosaur die-offs.  In contrast the intensive management of the honeybee practiced by beekeepers in just the last 50 years has led to their massive die-off and the global crisis we face with the loss of these essential pollinators.

 

 

In addition to respecting the bees' natural life processes, we regard the bees as Sacred beings.  Honeybees have an ancient and pervasive association with the Divine, which is shared across cultures and spiritual traditions.  We believe that the crisis the honeybees are experiencing today has, at its root, a shift in human consciousness.  The bees have 'fallen' - from creatures associated with Divinity to lowly insects exploited for commercial gain.  We believe that through renewing our relationship with the honeybee as Sacred guide, we can restore our direct connection to the Divinity within ourselves and within all Life.  In other words, she can lead us back to the Garden.

 

Over the past decade since the Sanctuary was established, we have studied and worked with the bees intensively, and that work included a two-year stint in the commercial beekeeping industry.  We have used what we have learned about the bees biology and life processes to establish our 'best practices'.  These include such things as letting the bees build their own wax combs, rather than providing plastic or wax foundation, allowing queens to live their whole life-span, rather than killing the older queens, and harvesting honey gently, taking care not to harm the bees.  Our bees have come to recognize us (yes, bees can do it as well as dogs!), and so can be handled without the use of the usual protective gear.  Just as a baby needs love to thrive, so we have found our bees thrive on the love we give them. Our love is reciprocated in their sweet honey, wax and the fertility of the land... their gifts to us. 

manu and me

Because our 'bottom line' is a commitment to the honeybee's health and well-being, rather than honey production, we are able to allow the bees the freedom to adapt to the challenges they face.  Rather than manipulating their natural processes to maximize profit, we are able to study and learn from them by observing them in their natural state(s) and flows.  Our "mango hive" is a good example.  We have noticed more wild bees building their combs in the open, rather than inside a wall or hollow tree, since the arrival of the parasitic Small Hive Beetle on our Island. The beetles hide in the dark corners of box hives and await their opportunity to destroy the colony.  By building their hive in the open, the bees eliminate the beetles hiding places!  This hive was rescued from an elderly couple's yard and moved intact to the Education Center, where it hangs under the house eaves.  Although we don't harvest honey from this hive, it perfumes our home with the most delicious scent and a beautiful harmonious vibration.  Isn't she gorgeous?

One of our goals is to move the majority of our colonies out of the conventional square hive boxes they currently inhabit into hive bodies that support the sacred geometry of their natural form and processes.  We are developing and experimenting with a variety of alternative hive bodies, including the Golden Mean top-bar hive pictured below.  The top-bar hive is easily constructed and provides and ideal hive body for back-yard and hobby beekeepers.  Not only does it provide a much more natural home for the bees, it allows the beekeeper to work with the bees without disturbing the brood chamber, requires no heavy lifting, and can be worked without killing bees, thus generating less defensive behavior from the colony.  We love our top-bar's, (see below), but the bees tell us they would prefer round hives, so we are exploring this option as well.

In working with our bees we draw from more than ten years of experience and a deep understanding of the bees biology and natural history.  It has also become clear to us that the bees are interacting with energy fields and frequencies/dimensions far beyond what humans can perceive.  (The famed nuclear physicist Barbara Shipman has shown that the bees are interacting with the quantum field, that is, the pre-manifest level of reality.)  We have developed and utilize a variety of metaphysical methods to communicate directly with our bees as well as the 'over-lighting  spirit of the hive', as interspecies communicator Sharon Callahan refers to Her. The use of techniques such as meditation, shamanic 'journeying' and divination in order to communicate with honeybees may seem unrealistic to some.  Yet these ancient techniques have been used in all cultures until the modern age, the same cultures that esteemed the bee as messenger, ornament, companion, and even embodiment of Divinity.  

With this in mind we encourage the incorporation of these techniques as a tool for other beekeepers who wish to enhance their relationship with their bees.  We use them to determine the needs and preferences of individual hives so as to work with them more efficiently.  We also use these techniques to help the bees, individually and collectively, as they face the many challenges the world of modern technology and agriculture present them.

The Bees tell us the most important thing we can do for them is to LOVE them, and you don't have to be a beekeeper to do that!  Every loving or grateful thought becomes a prayer on the pre-manifest plane, and helps to lighten the burden of disregard and exploitation the bees experience in their current relationship with human-kind.  Like the Mayan shamans and the ancient bee-priest(esses) of the Goddess we 'feed' our bees love through ritual, prayer and sacred mantra. We speak lovingly and encouragingly to our bees, and thank them for all the love, wisdom and beauty they bring to the world.  We share this message with the children we work with, and watch joyfully as they move from fearing the bees, to lovingly feeding them honey from their hands.