ESSAYS | Epiphanies From a Beekeeper

Give & Take

 

Honeybees teach us that we can share our resources but we must defend ourselves against exploitation. We all have an incredible amount of energy and we can pour off a significant amount of that energy to others. We can parent, we can hold friendships for a lifetime and we can help others build their dreams. But if we give away too much we will starve ourselves. Our time in this life is limited. If we become ill we must prioritize restoring our health. If our creativity abandons us we must make space for it to come back home. If we lose connection to spirit we must return to nature. The honeybees have tolerated human intervention for centuries but they will defend themselves against violent intrusions and in times where resources are scarce. If you are depleted in one or several realms of your life right now it is time to restructure and restore.

How honey fits into your diet

The most common thing I am asked when people find out I am beekeeper is, "Do you get lots of honey?!" At once sticky and silky, honey has seduced the human tongue since ancient times. Better still, modern science as proven that the gustative allure of honey is equal to it's health benefits which include:

  • Helping regulate blood sugar
  • Containing cancer fighting flavanoids and antioxidants
  • Treating gastrointestinal disorders with naturally occuring enzymes and probiotics
  • Delivering minerals including iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and selenium
  • Healing wounds and burns with it's anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties
  • Soothing sore throats

Sounds like honey belongs in your pantry, first aid kit and medicine cabinet.

One word I would like people to start associating with honey is medicinal. For one, honey has preventative and curative properties. Secondly, it is potent! To receive the benefits of honey you need less than a tablespoon a day. You can up the dosage if you feel a cold coming on or happen to visit the bee yards with me and we get carried away tasting ;) But in all seriousness, honey should be consumed in small quantities. A little known fact is that honey loses many of it's health properties when heated because temperatures above 110°F kill the antioxidant and probiotic content. Ayurveda, the ancient sister science to Yoga, goes farther and says that heated honey is toxic for the human body. For these reasons, it is not recommended to bake with honey. Don't worry, there are plenty of other natural sweeteners like coconut palm sugar, maple syrup and agave that have better baking synergy.

Let's not be gluttons...

Honey is precious to the 20,000+ honeybees that it takes to make just one jar of honey. Honey is what bees eat during cooler seasons and there is no nectar flow. If you take all of the honey from a colony of bees they will starve to death. Beekeepers in seasonal climates, like Colorado, have to be particularly sensitive to how much honey the bees will need to make it through winter and spring. In recognition for how hard honeybees work to produce honey and how essential it is to their survival let's be conscious about our consumer behavior.

  • Buy local and raw honey (avoid honey that is labelled by large corporations)
  • Consume less than a tablespoon of honey a day
  • Savor the taste of honey - it may sound woo-woo, but taking a moment of conscious gratitude and reverence for the work honeybees did to make the honey you are enjoying will shift your relationship to nature for the better and contribute to the collective consciousness that the natural world deserves our respect and utmost care

With all of this in mind, you have the beekeeper's blessing, "May you have a spoonful of golden goodness a day and plenty of health and wealth come your way".

With love and sweetness,

Caitlin Rose

Uncertainty

If there is one thing I have learned from the honeybees, it’s that you really don’t know what the future holds. When I opened the hive box on a warm January day I was expecting to find a dead colony, the bees either frozen or starved. My mortal expectations came from experience. I’ve seen these sensitive insects collapse from floods, famine, fall prey to bears, be robbed by wasps and lose their minds to pesticide poisoning. For good reason, I braced myself for the worst and started taking off the top bars.

Oh the pure beauty of life. Life when you least expect it. The golden girls were moving, working, cleaning. There was even signs of future life, brood, being warmed and guarded by the nursery bees.

So is the lesson from the bees that when you expect to fail you shall succeed? That when you do everything you can you will collapse, crack and crumble? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were such neat rules in life. No, those are not the lessons from the bees. The lesson here is expect the unexpected. Learn to cope, or better yet, thrive, in a life that is full of uncertainty. I read a quote that I cannot find at the moment that said something like this,

“Your capacity for happiness is directly correlated to your ability to withstand uncertainty.”

Now the question begs, how do I bolster my ability to be in the unknown? To be in transition? To be not quite who I want to be? There are probably many things that help like surrounding yourself with good people, going to talk therapy, asking for help when you need it, winning the lottery, etc. But to actually be in it? In the muck of uncertainty? You have probably guessed what my answer is based off of most of the photos on this website. Yoga. The practice of being exactly where you are in this moment; all the pleasure and all the pain, at once. Uncertainty mixed with moments of feeling completely yourself amidst the chaotic whirring of the world around you. I think Steinbeck knew a thing or two about yoga, he wrote this:

Dedication for East of Eden

Dear Pat,

You came upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and you said, “Why don’t you make something for me?”

I asked you what you wanted, and you said, “A box.”

“What for?”

“To put things in.”

“What kind of things?”

“Whatever you have,” you said.

Well, here’s your box. Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full. Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts- the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation.

And on top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you.

And still the box is not full.

JOHN

Yoga is the practice of diving into the metaphorical box that carries everything you are and everything the world will ever be. It’s sorting through each item, some that inspire you and some that repulse you. Some days, all you will see in this box is a source of boredom and you think, “I am done with this box.” But you still go back to the box every day. And you look inside because you never really know what you are going to find.

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I don’t typically go this deep when I am teaching yoga asana. I like to think that these reflections, metaphors and lessons are within every class that I teach because the class came out of my mind and the seeds of that sequence of postures was sitting in my mind steeping with all of these thoughts, right? Wishful thinking I am sure. But I do want you to know, that beneath or perhaps parallel to all the alignment cues and reminders to breath there is something deep within the yoga practice that catalyzes you to see more, feel more, know more and find more. Of course, it is all already there - but yoga peels back the cloak of invisibility just enough that you will keep coming back to it. You will build endurance for sitting in uncertainty, perhaps with more grace and compassion then you had yesterday or the day before.

I hope your box is still not full. Love,

Caitlin Rose