As my husband and I approached our bee hives, a plan in mind of how to support our hive named Josi. I noticed the bees were flying in unusual patterns, I could feel the hum of the hive had a different rhythm. Our intention was to intervene to attempt to save this beautiful queen-less hive. As we gently opened a sister hive sitting very close by, taking down one box at a time, where thousands of bees tend their young, save the precious pollen and honey to sustain their life. I could hear myself saying, "feel your feet", "breathe and stay right here".
Our plan was to place a frame of babies from one of our stronger hives and give it to Josie so that they could raise the next generation of bees to sustain their life. As we began to reach the center of the hive, the bees were noticeably agitated. They came out of the hive hitting our veils, our bodies wherever they could. My hands, uncovered so that I could feel the frames and the vibration of the hive were the first place I was stung. Then through my socks on my ankles they had found another vulnerable place to tell me how desperate they were. Stepping away from the hive so as to protect my husband from the release of pheromones and the increased chance of him being stung. I realized I had a bee under my veil. As I unzipped my veil to release her, many more of her sisters were nearby to continue letting me know this was the end of their life. This hive was in crisis.
This doesn't match my experience of the past 8 years of working with these gentle beings. Dedicated to each other, and the environment in a way that few other insects or humans are. I first noticed my shock of being stung several times and then I realized, what did they have to live for? Each sting a message, a reminder from the honey bees that we are connected, we need each other.
My body was beginning to react to the 20- 30 bee stings I had just received. Sending sensations up my legs, at each site of the sting, feeling heat rise in my entire body. The physical symptoms may have been manageable except that my brain wanted to figure out why this had happened and who to blame. In slow motion and in conjunction with big tears running down my face I could hear my thoughts, "Why did you let this happen?" "Why didn't you know better", and one of the worst, " you will never be able to be with your bees again, this is all your fault". With these thoughts I could feel my body tense, almost as if I had just added to the speed and severity of the physical reaction occurring in my body x 10.
I began to sense my breath was shallow, my throat was tight my legs burning with such force I was unable to continue to stand. With my thoughts on overdrive, I was leaving the simple experience of 'what is' and plunging head first into suffering and separation. Separation from my own life energy, from the life energy around me and from my deep longing, love and connection to the bees. I believed those thoughts were true.
As we traveled to the nearby hospital, I could feel the grip of my thoughts ease as I slowed my breath and stayed with the sensations of my body. I committed to noticing my habit of when the thoughts were in charge and taking over. I committed to feeling what I feel, to touching my longings, to staying and reconnecting to my wholeness and thereby staying connected to the world.
Visiting Josie a few days later, after placing a new queen in the hive, the bees in the hive having returned to a calm and easy flow. I covered up fully, veil, long sleeves, boots and gloves, to sit beside her and feel the hum of a hive fully alive, and happy to be whole. My own body recovering from the stings, the drugs that helped calm my reaction and the twinges of fear of not knowing. I felt my breath, focused on my commitment to stay with what is, sending compassion to my fear and feeling the love of the honey bee.