Sacred Bee Keeping

I have a tendency to be critical (internally towards myself, and externally towards others), it can come across as tough and judgemental but I do not intend it that way. It is, in me, an expression of striving to discover and do better. Though in many ways Cutia Taranului is a successful project, in the back of my mind there is a continuous conversation about what isn’t good enough and how to do better.

One direction these thoughts go is the relationship between Cutia Taranului and the greater natural ecosystem that underlies it (and all of us). It is a bit of a strange subject for me to address, because my relationship with the natural ecosystem is indirect. It is a relationship that manifests through the producers who partake in the project since they are the ones in a direct relationship with nature.

My views on how to relate to the natural system present some difficulties:

  • I have only a little experience with gardening or farming. As a result, what knowledge I do have is not yet embodied within me. Therefore I cannot offer it with authority. I can only offer it to others, who do relate to nature more often and more directly, as an invitation for them to explore.
  • The knowledge that feels most true to me often goes against popular norms and assumptions. It tends to make me unpopular (though to be honest that depends on who I am talking to).
  • When an established producer is presented with information that brings into question their own embodied and established experience, it can be challenging for them to take in new information. I acknowledge that difficulty: knowing is one thing, applying knowledge is another.
  • New information often points to a path of change. What if the changes have a negative effect on a producer’s livelihood? What if those changes require a producer to make an investment (of time, effort and money)? This leads to a different challenge altogether: how to embrace change in a healthy way?

Bee-keeping is one area where I have questions. I don’t intend to go deep into bee-keeping in this post; I do want to acknowledge that 1) bees are critical to our food supply (without pollination there is no food) and 2) it increasingly seems that there is a bee-crisis all around the world (from mysterious disappearances of entire swarms to collony-collapse-disorder).

From the information I have gathered it seems that most of the problems with bee-keeping originate in … well … how bees are kept. When bees are treated as a honey production system, compromises are made to their well-being. It seems to me that when those compromises add up, they become the systemic problems that we are witnessing with bees.

With that in heart and mind, I’d like to share with you these videos from Sandira & Annelieke in Portugal. They offer a glimpse into bee-keeping that is very different from mainstream bee-keeping. In this story of bee-keeping the bees are at the center, not honey production. These videos offer a glimpse into a world of bee-keeping in which there is a mutual and sacred relationship between bees & humans; a relatonship in which the essence is the depth of the relationship itself and not what is produced by it. I was deeply moved by these videos and want to share them with you:

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