Holistic Beekeeping

The word holistic, by definition, brings our awareness from the individual parts of an organism to its whole and complete being. Holistic thinking aims to widen our perception of an organism to include not only the collective intelligence that resides within and contains its myriad individual parts, but also an organism’s environment and it’s role(s) within that environment.

ThymeHolistic beekeeping, then, aims to treat each individual facet of a honeybee colony, as well as its environment, as expressions of a greater, living and conscious entity; queen, workers, drones, larva, eggs, nectar, honey, pollen, propolis, warmth, comb, sting, hive body, beekeeper, flowers, land, sun…all become expressions of the whole organism that we care for, and that cares for us in return. By becoming stewards of the bees, we become stewards of the Earth and all it’s unique expressions of life; holistic beekeeping becomes an opportunity to heal our own disconnection from nature and from each other, and to enter into our current global crisis with a clear mind and willing hands.

Holistic beekeeping also brings together the 3 major areas of knowledge and experience necessary for a truly successful endeavor: The traditional art and practice of natural beekeeping; our modern, scientific understanding of honeybees and their role in the world; and the living, transformative essence, or spirit, of the honeybee and it’s role in our lives and culture.

In practice, holistic beekeeping honors the instinctual wisdom and behavior that each colony contains: swarming, natural queen selection and her freedom of movement, comb building, the need for warmth, etc. By returning the right to follow their instincts, I feel we return to the honeybees their ability to evolve and thrive in our modern world; only when we truly love something can its secrets be revealed to us.

Holistic beekeeping is certainly not a hands-off beekeeping path, however. Instead, it aims to develop a mutually-supportive and intimate relationship between bees and beekeeper, a relationship that nourishes and enlivens everybody involved. Honeybees and humans are learning and evolving together; the care that we can give them is crucial for their, and our, survival.

While honey, wax, pollen, and propolis are not the most important gifts that the bees give to us, they are also cherished and elevated to their rightful place as medicine for our increasingly distressed world. With a loving, healthy and grateful exchange between colony and beekeeper, we can heal ourselves, families and communities with all that the bees offer us…including the occasional (but very much needed) sting.

Healing HandsCultivating this kind of wider, inclusive understanding is what guides us in the art and practice of holistic beekeeping. I feel that the honeybees have a valuable and increasingly urgent message to share with us, and the wisdom and healing the bees can offer us are truly a blessing.

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