Honeybeeteacher.com….I know, at first glance the phrase sounds so “anthropocentric,” so human-centered. Something with that name must be all about some “enlightened” human being teaching other people about honeybees and beekeeping, right?
Well, in truth, teaching others about honeybees and beekeeping is a good part of it, but that is not the heart of it.
Honeybeeteacher.com is, first of all, about the honeybee herself. It is about the honeybee as teacher, not the human being as teacher. This endeavor is honeybee-centric, not anthropocentric. It is also educational, ecological, and entrepreneurial. Humans are important, but the bees come first.
Ironically, or perhaps appropriately, it was a human being who first taught me about the honeybee as teacher. This man was my first beekeeping mentor, Les Crowder. A humble man and a truly gifted beekeeper, Les always told beginning beekeepers to remember that the bees themselves are the best teachers. Learn directly from the bees, he said, as he went about teaching his students through both words and actions. Observe, listen, interact, and learn. Another talented beekeeper, Brother Adam, creator of the gentle Buckfast bee, said something similar: “listen to the bees.” These ways of thinking and doing have profoundly influenced my own work as a beekeeper, gardener, and teacher.
Therefore, the heart and soul of honeybeeteacher.com is about learning from the bees themselves, about who they are, about what they need to thrive, and about how we as humans can best be in relationship with them and with the rest of Nature. As indigenous peoples from all over Planet Earth have shown us, humans belong to and are part of Nature; we do not exist apart from Nature. When we really listen to and learn from the bees, we know this truth to be self-evident.
Another related truth that I have learned (and am still learning) is that the Earth is alive and that we humans are living in relationship with the land. The land gives us a continuing life. Consequently, we have a moral and spiritual responsibility to take care of the Earth. It is the same with the honeybees and with our relationships and responsibilities for helping to take care of them. Without the bees, we may perish….It has been my experience that we humans discover our true humanity and express ourselves most authentically in relationship not only with one another, but also with other, non-human species, like the honeybee, and the flowering plants that bring her life, and vice versa. Being a beekeeper is a really challenging, rewarding, and fun way of exploring, experiencing, and restoring these life-giving relationships.
As an educational, small-scale economic enterprise, honeybeeteacher.com begins with learning by observing and by doing—by becoming and being beekeepers who are in conscious relationship with the beautiful honeybee, the “master pollinator.” Originally indigenous to both Africa and Europe, the honeybee is the Fourth Sister; with human assistance, she crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas to join her three indigenous half-sisters: corn, beans, and squash.
A buzzing “power trio” (plus one), the Fourth Sister lives as a single sentient, intelligent being. The honeybee also belongs to the flowering plants, to the complex social insect societies, and to the warm-blooded animals. Her body temperature is about 96 degrees, only two degrees of difference from our own. Social insect, but also belonging to the flowering plants and mammals, the honeybee is neither fully wild nor entirely domesticated. She is both. The honeybee is incredibly sweet and loving, but, when threatened, she can also express the “fierce green fire” of the wild that ecologist Aldo Leopold once famously saw burning in a dying female wolf’s eyes. As the ancients knew, the honeybee is sacred; she brings the world both life (especially!) and death, the two being inextricably intertwined, one being impossible without the other.
As founder and proprietor of Honeybeeteacher LLC, I teach hands-on top bar beekeeping workshops, based in organic, treatment-free apicultural practices. I also give public presentations about beekeeping and honeybee ecology, catch swarms, and work in community with others on behalf of the “health and well-being of the honeybee,” the latter in my role as founder and President of NAOBA, the Northern Arizona Organic Beekeepers’ Association (http://azorganicbeekeepers.org). In addition, I also sell local, raw, hand-crafted honey varietals, if the bees are able to make a surplus. (Thankfully in 2015, they did!).
If you are also interested in honeybees, in beekeeping, in flowering plants, in honey, and in learning from the bees, please contact me. Thanks for visiting this website, y Viva Las Abejas!
A honeybee pollinating an apple blossom.