Kaat Byrd: How did your story with the bees begin?
Alison Yahna: When I recall how my journey with the bees began, nearly twenty years ago, I feel again the magic and mystery of the Honeybees. Awestruck by a story that goes back thousands and thousands of years, humbled to the core to be a participant. Reminded again that a Divine Plan is unfolding, and here we are -humanity- on the cusp of a great evolutionary leap into Unity Consciousness. It is nothing less than the Birth of Mother Gaia herself into a new level of being. Who are the bees but the visible face of Mother Earth, Mother Nature? They are reaching out to us, reminding us that they have been involved in the evolution of human consciousness from the very beginning, and are still with us, now guiding us through this doorway of death and rebirth as one cycle comes to a close and the New Earth is born.
In the late 90’s I was a high school science teacher who had begun to explore shamanism. In a bid to relieve bouts of anxiety and depression I had sought the help of a therapist who was also a shamanic practitioner. Susan’s techniques were so effective and uplifting that I entered a period of study with her; learning to navigate the spiritual realms, meeting and working with ancestors, animal and plant teachers and my main guide and teacher, the Goddess Demeter.
In the last months of 1998, my guides told me they were going to prepare my body to receive a higher vibrational frequency and help me stay grounded. I was given a meditation practice in which I was specifically instructed to tone ‘HUM’, and make it sound like the buzz of bees. Several months later, accompanied by dreams of bees, contact with an 8,000 year old Minoan priestess of Delphi, and a ‘real world’ swarm of bees alighting on a cedar tree near my house, the energy which had been building within me though this practice culminated in a six hour ‘initiation experience’. As a result of this experience I began to receive downloads of information from the over-lighting spirit of the bees, worshipped in ancient European tradition as the Goddess, The Pure Mother Bee.
The information I received covered the whole gamut… revelations of ancient bee temples where priestesses attended their Divine Mother as the bees attend the Queen, and produced healing nectars from their bodies, the many levels of sacred medicine embodied in the honey and other alchemical substances of the hive, their work grounding the new frequency of energy coming from Creator into the planetary body, and that we humans (a very young species but with the god-like power of creative consciousness) were on the cusp of an evolutionary leap from individual ego-consciousness into Unity Consciousness. More than anything else, the bees told me, their purpose, medicine and work with humanity at this time is to help us make that transition.
So I came to the bees… or they came to me, through this avenue. I was not a beekeeper and had no experience with them, other than being stung as a child by the wild hives that lived in the walls of our old barns. I now lived in the inner city, and the appearance of that swarm during my initiation in April 1999 seemed like a miracle. A former-beekeeping acquaintance helped me move them into a box and I put them outside the window of my meditation room. But, honestly, the physical reality of the bees in my yard was far removed from my spiritual experiences. And those spiritual experiences were fantastic beyond words… the teachings I received were often beyond my belief as a scientist about how things work, and what is possible. (It was not until the publication of Simon Buxton’s Shamanic Way of the Bee in 2004 that I found any evidence of contemporary people who had received a similar initiation and teachings from the bees.)
Among the teachings that filled my notebooks was information about the current situation the bees struggled under. They told me they were not well, and were leaving the planet in ‘catastrophic numbers’. When I asked them why they were sick their first response was emphatic -but incomprehensible to non-beekeeper me at the time- “Stop raping the Queens! Stop killing the Queens!” (I will come back to this subject later.)
They showed me a view of earth from space surrounded by a grey fog-like envelope, I asked what it was.
They said, “ Most humans do not realize it, but you are the ‘gods’ of this planet, your thoughts CREATE! To us, at the level we perceive and work with energy your thoughts are very REAL. This ‘fog’ is made of human thought forms and it is filled with negativity. It is a greater burden for us than any physical pollution or pesticide. In the past humans revered us as Divine, and offered prayers of Love and Gratitude. Through the manifesting power of your consciousness, Divine Love is what we reflected back to you! Now when people think of us, beyond just the attitude of general exploitation they have towards agricultural animals, it is primarily with the fear and hatred they have for most insects, but especially those that sting. We no longer receive your love, but rather suffer under the burden of your disregard, hatred and fear.”
And later they gave me my ‘mission’…. another view of earth, this time revealing the streaming and pulsing of her energy body, her electro-magnetic body. They showed me how the ‘piko’, or naval, of this torroidal flow was at the point of Hawaii Island. Within this piko a seed of consciousness could be planted, and with all Mother Earth’s creative energy behind it, would flow out in these energy streams and cover the whole earth. They asked for a Sanctuary, a ‘Bee Temple’, on Hawaii Island. The seed planted there was to be the return to a loving, reverent and mutually beneficial relationship between humans and honeybees.
When I think back on it, I remember mostly feeling I was perhaps crazy, that I was making the whole thing up in my head, and full of self-doubt. But the pull of this magical path I had set my foot on was stronger than all of that because, guided by the bees and with the loving support of my mother, I left my teaching career, cashed in my retirement, sold my home in Oregon and in 2002 I established Artemis Smiles Honeybee Sanctuary on the Big Island (www.artemissmiles.com). The bees literally led me to the Sanctuary, a very remote and pristine 8 acre parcel of land on the South Point peninsula. With no beekeeping experience and no teachers other than the bees themselves I began to rescue wild bees that had gone into people’s houses or sheds. There was a big gap between my spiritual relationship and my physical relationship with them, however, and about a year later they told me to go work for a Queen-breeding company. I was confused, “I thought that was what was making you sick?” Their response was that if I was going to create a Sanctuary I needed to understand what was happening to them, I needed to know what the Sanctuary was a sanctuary from! They said it would be a two-year intensive education and that while I was learning I could put to practice the things they were teaching me on the spiritual level. And so I did.
I didn’t make it quite two years, but I discovered that Hawaii Island is home to the largest Queen breeding company in the world, with several smaller companies as well, producing a huge percentage of the US’s commercial Queen bees through a factory process that strips them of their relationship to the earth/environment, their relationship with their Mother, their genetic wisdom and their ability to evolve through natural selection. I participated in every step… from the artificial insemination of ‘breeders’ who are put to sleep and injected with the semen of hand-picked drones, the grafting of worker larvae into frames of plastic queen cups and their introduction into ‘cell-builder’ hives who raise 100 or more ‘Queens’ per week, year round. Of course the cell builder colonies are fed a constant diet of sugar water, fumadil (for nosema control), and artificial pollen to keep up this frenetic activity, only to have the queen cells they build removed and taken to mating yards where they are placed in tiny nuc’s with a cup of syrup and a ‘scoop’ of young bees that have been shaken from drone/support hives. The Queen cells hatch in the nuc yards and the young Queens fly out, hundreds at a time, on their mating flights. ‘Support/drone colonies’ from this same stock provide the semen. One week after mating company work crews come into the yards, catch and cage the ‘queens’ (clipped and marked upon request) and place the cages in queen banks where they are stored until it is time to be shipped off to their final destination (Israel, Canada, California…), where commercial beekeepers are re-queening their colonies.
In 2014 one single company on Hawaii Island produced more than 500,000 of these ‘pseudo-queens’ from a grand total of some sixty artificially inseminated ‘breeders’, according to a woman who worked as a grafter in the company. I understand now why the bees placed me here, the Sanctuary in the piko Hawaii, as a counter-balance to the consciousness of industrialization and this process which turns the Divine Bee into a slave, stripped of her Wisdom, her Relationships, her Sovereignty.
KB: What is your focus and goal as a bee guardian?
AY: The goal of my Sanctuary and work with the bees is the restoration of a loving, reverent and mutually beneficial relationship between bees and humans. Over the years I have realized that the greatest challenge the bees face is the human disconnection from the flows, laws and cycles of nature. The hubris of man; the idea that we have the intelligence to ‘manage’ the bee, bend and modify her behaviors, scientifically ’build a better bee’ (as one news article put it), force her to produce according to our economic models and goals – is destroying the bees. For all our scientific knowledge of them we completely fail to comprehend their WISDOM. The lack of wisdom in our current relationship with bees mirrors our relationship to nature and the whole community of life on earth.
In my beekeeping practices and educational work I approach the bees as the Teachers, as the embodiment of the Wisdom of Nature, a species that has survived and made the earth abundant for tens of millions of years. I understand that the genetic wisdom the bees carry is a treasure beyond measure and that, through supporting their natural form, their natural means of reproduction, their uninterrupted, unmanaged and often ‘unharvested’ life processes – by removing all my own human mental and physical constructs and impositions, by giving them radical freedom, they can teach me how to ‘keep’ them.
The shift from ‘knowledge’ to ‘wisdom’ is one that that we humans must make in our approach towards all of Nature. To be in loving respectful relationship with the other species on the planet. All over the world we see cultures, indigenous people who maintain deep spiritual and family relationships with key plant and animal species. Be it Hawaiian Kalo, the Masaai Cow, the Salmon, Reindeer or the Cedar Tree, it is honored with great reverence through ceremony and ritual, whereby it ‘partakes’ of the special quality of love it receives from human consciousness. Within the relationship is a reciprocity of sacred love, love that takes physical form and is gifted from one species to another, that binds humanity to the web of Life. I believe the renaissance in natural and small scale/backyard beekeeping is the means by which many people will begin this process of reconnecting with Mother Nature, and remembering our place in it. She is a creature of Paradise, and she can lead us back to the Garden.
Ultimately I see my work as emptying myself of ‘learned’ ideas about the bees and then being free of attachment enough to listen to them. They want to work with us on the higher levels of energy frequency….. the pre-manifest quantum field, as noted physicist and beekeeper Barbara Shipman describes it, where we can use the power of our creative consciousness to restore the Queen to her Divine Throne. The bees are spiritual partners and guides for humanity, but they can only reflect to us what we ‘god-beings’ give them to work with.
KB: How does the local environment shape your work?
AY: Hawaii is a tropical environment and the bees are active all year round. The ‘wild’ land races of bees that have evolved here had adapted to the many varied microclimates of Hawaii Island, from hot dry coastal plains to high elevation forests. The physical and temperamental differences of bees from these varied environments was notable. It is interesting to note that even in this tiny area (an island about the size of Connecticut) there was tremendous genetic diversity among the estimated one million wild colonies.
The current situation is much different. The introduction of Nosema Cerranae, Varroa Mite and the Small Hive Beetle between 2006 and 2010 have reduced wild colonies by over 95%. Managed colonies were devastated initially, and there was a twofold response. Commercial beekeepers/Queen-breeders responded with treatments, poisons and more intensive manipulation such as replacing queens every four to six months. Some companies have been successful in maintaining and even expanding their operations this way. The other response was the evolution of a number of mostly new, small-scale/backyard beekeepers on the Island who have adopted a natural beekeeping approach and are allowing their bees to adapt through natural selection.
KB: What threatens your bees?
AY: With wild colonies extremely rare, and the commercial demand for Queens intensifying, the Queen breeders are expanding their yards and moving into more remote areas such as my district, Ka’u. This is a concern, as I have maintained a small number of treatment free ‘survivor’ colonies, a genetic bank of bees originating from the wild colonies I rescued 15 years ago. From these survivor colonies many dozens of swarms have gone back into the wild from my yards, but they are faced with annual fluxes of beetles. mites and nosema from migratory commercial beekeepers, and not many survive.
So the main threat to bees here is the loss of genetic traits and diversity due to mechanized industrial style ‘queen’ production, and other large, migratory commercial operations. Raised on sugar syrup and artificial ‘bee bread’, industrial ‘pseudo queens’ have lost the inherent wisdom of the bee; the intimate relationship with the four square miles whose nectar she sips, the life of the land. And she has lost her sense of Self as a super-organism, her immunity, and this is related to the loss of relationship between the Queen and her genetic daughters and sons. Pseudo-queens are moved into different hives numerous times throughout their development, and a queen raised in tropical Hawaii will likely end up in temperate North America. They are bred to start pumping out eggs no matter what their environment looks like, they are not expected or bred to live longer than a year, they are not expected to reproduce. These poor creatures are no longer truly Honey Bees, but rather ‘man-made industrial slaves’. Because just one of the several Queen operations here on Hawaii Island provides the mainland with 25-30% of its Queens annually, I believe the industry is a serious threat to bees on the mainland as well.
KB: What do you believe is the key element for a healthy and strong apiary?
AY: I want to address, first of all, ‘making friends with death’. Ten years have passed since the arrival of parasites and disease that wiped out our island bees, and the corresponding jump in consciousness experienced by islanders as a result has been astounding. Bee Guardians awoke and heard the call! I would say the ‘grey fog’ of negative consciousness around Gaia that the bees felt in 1999 has been pierced and illuminated by powerful rays of love and light as a direct result of the honeybee crisis. We humans have a ways to go, but when we are at one with Nature we accept that the harvest, the drought and the die-off are built into the laws of Nature. It is the balance, the Law. Birth and Death emerge from the same Holy Door, the Ouroboros eats its own tail. We are not meant, with our feeble human intelligence, to ‘fix’ the bees so that they may continue to labor for us in the killing fields. Rather they are leading us, by necessity, into a deeper intelligence, into renewing a harmonic relationship with Life, remembering how to lovingly receive from our Abundant Loving Fertile Beautiful Mother Earth. Bee Guardians are listening to what bees need to thrive in the long run, and when they thrive we know the whole ecosystem is thriving. The bees die to send us a message and teach us a new way of relating with them, with our food, with nature. For example we must release our feelings of negativity and our ‘warlike’ attitude to pests and diseases.
The bees surprised me, as I was in despair about my collapsing colonies, flooded with SHB. “The beetles and mites are not our enemies! They are freeing us. They are liberating us from these current ‘working’ conditions.” I had to make peace with the fact my bees didn’t want to be ‘treated’ for mites, they wanted me to let those colonies go who couldn’t manage them, and release their life/species energy to evolution. Their response to such questions was “The Queen has fallen!” “Raise up the Queen, raise your own inner Queen so that we may once again reflect your Divinity to you!”
I watched most of my sixty colonies perish and ultimately I made friends with death… evolution can only happen this way! A primary lesson for me, in my quest to allow the bees ‘sovereign freedom’ and put myself in the place of student/observer, rather than ‘managing bee-savior’, -was to release even the mental construct that I wanted my colonies to LIVE and not die! To end the feeling of ‘Life = Good, Death = Bad’.
To be able to fully say to them ‘you do what you need to do, I love you!’
If we can get silent enough before them, quiet our desires and judgements, they can tell us exactly what they want and need. And we may find that they are actually saving us! Definitely they have been successful in getting our attention.
That said, I believe the bees are working with each of us as they see fit, and things that work for one beekeeper in one region will not work for another. But for long term survival of the Honeybee we must support her return to sovereignty over her reproduction and genetics. We must allow our bees to swarm and make natural queens who are naturally mated. Other natural beekeeping practices include letting bees make their own comb, harvesting only excess honey/bee bread, keeping combs clean and removing old brood comb. Small is beautiful: small yards with fewer hives, smaller hives who are not spending all their energy filling supers with ‘your’ honey! Let them re-establish their relationship to the land, adapt through natural selection the traits they need for that place, let the ones that don’t make it go with love and gratitude…
And because our consciousness is so powerful, feed them with your highest vision of the New Earth, of the Divine Mother Bee. Raise your own inner Queen!
KB: What are you working on right now?
AY: One of the great teachings I have received from the bees is some understanding of Sacred Geometry: that certain frequencies and harmonics, which manifest as sound, light and matter in this dimension, are conducive to the flow and evolution of life. Others suppress it. The bees expressed that the cuboid shape of the modern hive suppresses their vitality, and that they wanted a round or ovoid shaped space. I am excited to finally be producing a beautiful round hive developed in Germany. It has removable wooden frames and support board for an egg-shaped woven basket. Mathematically, the cuboid shape reflects ‘stasis/stability’. Energetically it is mineral/earth. The ovoid SunHive, in contrast, is a shape in which the evolution of the bees is supported. I received a grant to produce ten ‘SunHives’ for my sanctuary, and am currently learning to work with this new design and observing the behavior and health of these colonies.
I am using a local grass, not traditional rye straw, and a type of locally harvested tropical cedar the bees indicated they liked. The practice of gathering the materials and hours of weaving have provided time to listen to the bees and deeply understand the significance of this biodymanic shape, mathematically the formula of ‘potential’, the hive takes on the energy of the Cosmic Egg, the Cosmic Queen-Cell. Placed high (8-16’ off the ground), I sense that they are literally lifting up that “fallen Queen”, and within the ‘ovum mysterium’ is gestating the Great Queen. I remember Her… Artemis, Isis, Demeter “the Pure Mother Bee”, Bhramari Devi. She is the Bee who remembers her original Divine Blueprint!
KB: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
AY: The Aloha ‘Aina movement in Hawaii is a fantastic story that began with the ‘Fallen Queen’ Liliuokalani’s people declaring that they would never sign papers agreeing to the annexation of their Nation to the U.S. “We will never sign the papers of extortion and greed. We will be satisfied eating the magical stones of our land.” In 2015, in response to attempted construction of a Thirty Meter Telescope on the peak of their most Sacred Temple, Mauna A Wakea, thousands of Hawaiians gathered to protect the Mountain, the source of Wai Ola, the Water of Life, that nourishes our whole planet. We know the same is happening at Standing Rock, and that more than 700 indigenous nations have come together there to protect the Sacred, to protect that which nourishes us, the ‘aina. There is an unstoppable stream of Life Energy flooding the planet, we who feel it are standing like a mountain if we must, flowing like a river when we need to, but secure in the knowledge that in this way there is Life for us and for all our relations. There is no life force behind the ‘powers that be’, only the frenetic winding down of the machine.
My journey as a ‘bee shaman’ of mostly European ancestry has been one of reconnecting to the Sacred in my own indigenous tradition, to enter again into a loving, living relationship with the community of Life. The Bee guardians, the guardians of the Salmon, the Waters, the Redwoods, the Seeds…. we are all in this together. I am inspired by all of us, each in our own way, who are reconnecting to Nature and working to protect her. The bees showed me almost twenty years ago, in that view of the planet from space, how the seed of a new relationship between humans and bees could be sown in this piko, Hawaii, and flow throughout the whole envelope of negative human consciousness surrounding the planet. I saw the seeds taking root around the Earth and Bee Sanctuaries appearing everywhere. These visions I have seen come to pass.
The bee-oracle speaks of what is yet to come:
Bee Sanctuaries are anchor points for the bees to conduct Source energy into the Earth’s ‘dragon lines’ (her energy body), in a Sacred Marriage of Heaven and Earth. From this union will come the New Earth, a new level of consciousness, of Gaia herself. Enveloped within Earth’s consciousness field (like bees within that emanated by the queen) humans will become the neural network or ‘heart/mind’ within the enveloping consciousness of Gaia. We will experience unity consciousness, the bees tell us, similar to what they experience within the colony. A level of shared consciousness, including and transcending the individual ego, in which our human experience will be very bee-like. Bee Guardians can assist by becoming aware of the ley (dragon) lines in the area where hives are placed, for on sacred sites and dragon lines there is direct connection to the consciousness of Mother Earth. By creating ‘power places’, or placing hives on already existing energy points we can assist the bees in the great work they are doing, helping humanity move from individual ego to unity consciousness.
KB: Can you share one of your favorite bee stories?
AY: Anyone who works with the bees as a guardian, in loving and receptive relationship will soon have their own fantastic stories, that may or may not be understood or believed by those not a part of this magical realm…
I would like to share a little about swarms and a swarm story. I had gathered a dozen or so wild ‘rescue’ colonies when I went to work for the Queen Company. I was ‘undercover’ and learning all I could, while quietly communing with the bees as I worked. I learned commercial beekeeping practices for the first time; the ways in which bees are domesticated, managed and ‘molded’ – that seemed to be adopted by pretty much everyone, commercial or hobbyist. One of those ideas is that swarming must be suppressed. For example, check out “Beekeeping for Dummies” at the local library, turn to the section on “Problems” and you will find the first chapter deals with the ‘problem’ of swarming, with advice and methods on how to prevent it: cut out Queen cells, super the hive, clip the Queen’s wings or put a Queen excluder on the entrance…. under this influence I had unconsciously adopted a negative feeling towards swarming as well as the feeling of “I want as much honey as I can get”.
But one day as I found myself at home in my Sanctuary, walking among the wild hives, I received a great revelation. The bees wanted to swarm, they needed to swarm, and the powerful consciousness of their human keepers was set against it, had been set against the very means by which bees reproduce and infuse their species with new life and vitality! No wonder the bees were “dying”, we kept ‘telling them’ NOT to reproduce! Of course they can’t go through any natural selection process if they don’t swarm, and I understood that, but I had the sense that the powerful force of the collective ‘beekeeper mind’ was suppressing their life force on an energetic level as well. I was holding my own bees back! With this revelation I consciously released all my negative feelings about swarms and told my bees “You are free! Do your thing! I will celebrate it!”
Within an hour two swarms took off, and the next day several more. More than half my colonies swarmed within a few days. It was very clear to me that by mentally ‘allowing’ my bees to swarm I had lifted something from them that had been suppressing their natural life processes. I began to advocate for swarming and natural selection many years ago. But it was only a few years ago that I had an even more profound experience.
I was sitting with a SunHive when it began to swarm, the bees pouring out and lifting up into the air, filling the sky with their bodies. As I looked upward I saw that their movements were not random but very clearly along pathways with open centers, creating some ‘flower of life’-type three dimensional geometric form. As more and more bees rose above me the form expanded until it was a hundred feet high and a couple hundred feet wide. They pattern remained the same, expanding and then slowly tightening like a net. The queen settled on a low branch right near my shoulder and the geometric form condensed and condensed – without losing any of its clearly demarcated three dimensional flight lines and empty spaces, until the cluster was formed around her and on me.
As I was standing in the center of this loud humming formation and the queen settled so close to me, I experienced feeling this pattern resonating through my cells and consciousness – a powerful ‘re-setting’ of my body’s energy field. I understood that when the bees leave the hive, their physical body, in a swarm they are dying to the physical and as pure spirit are absorbing and re-setting themselves in the Divine Harmonic, the ‘Language of Life’, the ‘Fingerprint of God’. This is how they are reborn, shed the dis-harmonic energies and experiences of the recent past and ‘re-set’ themselves to mirror the Divine Pattern we call Sacred Geometry. It was a powerful revelation that swarming is not just important as part of the reproductive process of the colony, but actually was cleansing dis-harmonic memories and experiences, and rebooting them with an infusion of the energies and harmonics of Life Energy. The future of the bees, and the destiny of Gaia, is to be free of the false matrix of the techno-industrial model. The Beeing that is the Queen, on so many levels, informing (in forming) Biological Life, must be Free and Sovereign in Her destiny.
KB: A piece of advice for rookie bee guardians?
AY: As Bee Guardians we are entering a relationship with a Wise and Sacred Bee-ing. You will get advice from every current and former beekeeper you encounter, all certain that theirs is the only best right way! Remember that its not about how much honey your bees produce, or how many colonies survive a given winter that make you ‘successful’. You will lose some hives even if you do everything right, you might lose all your hives. Don’t take it personally. We are in it for the long haul… we are learning what we can do to support the long term health and vitality -of the bees and of the earth. Free your mind from expectations and ‘desires’ until you can sit with the bees in silence and hear Her voice sweetly humming the way to Paradise.
Blessed Bee, Honey in the Heart.