article written by Ann Reid
While not as prescriptive as a 4-H Beekeeping Handbook, as a Reiki Master and Beekeeper, it’s Dr. Usui’s principals of Reiki that I find myself coming back to again and again. They are my manual for Reiki and the gentle art of being… as well as beekeeping.
Just for today, I will release all anger.
As a Reiki Master and beekeeper, I’m tuned-in to the vibration of my hives—and they are tuned into me. When I started 3 years ago, Jim, my 85 year-old beekeeping mentor taught me, “If you’ve just had a spat with your husband or got a parking ticket and you’re steamed, leave your hives alone. If you take that anger with you, they’ll pick right up on it-- and when they do, that’s when you’ll find yourself getting stung—and usually more than once.” So, as a beekeeper, it’s necessary to release all anger before suiting up!
Just for today, do not worry.
If you are a beekeeper you will, no doubt, get stung. It might be a single sting from an over-zealous guard bee when you get close to their queen. On the other hand, if you miss the back corner of the cement block when you’re restacking your hive boxes and accidentally drop a 60-pound ‘super’ of 30,000 suddenly discombobulated bees, like I did in my first year, you will get stung a lot--even through your veil and protective clothing. Worrying about it won’t change a thing. If you’re going to keep bees you just have to get on with it, today and everyday. Do not worry.
Just for today I am thankful for my many blessings.
Right now bees are in big trouble. According to BeeInformed.Org, between April 2013 and April 2014, beekeepers in the U.S reported losing 34% of their colonies. The extreme cold winter, the effects of petrochemicals in the environment, as well as parasites, like veroa mites, undermine the strength and sustainability of all our hives. Unfortunately, many hobby and commercial apiarists focus primarily on getting as much honey as they can from their hives. In effect, they “pimp” the bees by taking much, if not all, of the rich prebiotic honey stores the bees have created to get the colony through the winter. Instead, they feed their bees cheap, high fructose corn syrup.
We don’t do that. We don’t take any honey for ourselves from our hives until winter is over and the spring nectar flow is on again and there are plenty of blossoms, nectar and pollen available in the river hills where we live in southern Lancaster County. We don’t complain that we only got 40 pounds of honey from three hives. Instead, we focus on keeping our bees alive and healthy and are grateful for the modest amount of exquisite wildflower honey they provide.
Just for today, I will be honest in my work.
In beekeeping, just like in any other job, when a problem comes up that’s more than you can handle on your own, you need to let responsible parties know about it. So, while we keep a little honey for ourselves -and not much since my husband is a diabetic- we bottle and give the rest away to whoever crosses our paths. We give honey to our neighbours, friends, family, colleagues, and clients, even the dishwasher repairman. All of these people are “responsible parties” who need to know about what’s going on with the bees. Attached to every amber bottle of our ‘Pequea Premium Gold Honey’ is a tied-on parcel label that reads:
Bee Kind to Bees
Nearly 1/3 of all our crops depend on bees for pollination.
Pollinators love: mint, cosmos, wallflowers, lavender, sunflowers, basil,
sage, rosemary, thyme, verbena and zinnias in the garden.
Bee Friendly Weed Killer
1 Gal. White Vinegar, 1 cup of salt,
2 Tbsp. Dawn or Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid.
Mix in a Sprayer.
Really Works Great!
Our honey provides an opportunity to speak the truth about what’s going on in our environment and how every action we take or fail to take impacts on our ‘Mom,’ the Earth. We’re not aggressive. We’re not shoving a well-polished shoe between someone’s screen doors and preaching at them. We’re gently and sweetly educating the responsible parties—which is all of us. That’s being honest in our work—something I suspect Dr. Usui and Mom would approve of.
Just for today, I will be compassionate to myself and all living things.
We have neighbors down the road who know about our bees, know what stresses the use of neonicotinoid herbicides puts on them and yet still uses them – as indicated by the “Agent Orangey” brown swatch of dead-as-a- doornail foliage down their steep bank near the road. We’ve seen him with a gallon jug of ‘Round Up’ spraying. I suspect he knows we’ve seen him. Still, he is a big, blustering fella with a voice like the cartoon rooster, “Foghorn Leghorn.” No one would dare tell him what to do or evangelize him on behalf of the environment.
Still, we offer he and his wife a jar of honey with our informational tag and chat neighbourly to them. His wife, a sweet-tempered woman, looks embarrassed, perhaps even a bit ashamed.
But I persist. “Please take it. We share our honey with all our neighbours. After all, our bees take nectar and pollen from the flowers you plant, from your fruit trees and bushes. Everyone of us down here on the river plays a part in feeding and caring for them.” I say, placing the jar in her hands. Finally, with a shy smile, she sighs and takes it.
I don’t mention their use of herbicides.
Still, perhaps their appreciation for our delicious honey will gently lead them to mindfulness and right action later this year--and if not this year, perhaps next. In the meantime I can hold out hope and open my heart with compassion for them and for where they are now. Who can say? But without compassion, could there be any hope for this at all?
Ann Reid, RN MA is a Holy Fire Reiki Master, practitioner and teacher, as well as a freelance holistic nursing and health writer who keeps bees on the beautiful banks of the Susquehanna River, in Lancaster County, PA. Ann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.