I realized recently when reflecting on this life experience that, strange as it may seem, I remember every encounter I've ever had with a bee. So many memories... Perhaps the most memorable from when I was 8 and a bee stung the base of my middle finger on my left hand. I screamed and cried hysterically, as I watched the bee’s abdomen pulsate, burrowing the stinger deeper into my skin. He stayed stuck in my flesh, wriggling and writhing, until my Grandfather, who was very much allergic to bees, rescued me by simply flicking the poor guy out and away. I was then taken to Ritsuko, a Japanese neighbor and friend, who split an aloe vera leaf and anointed me with its soothing medicinal interior. I still have the scar. Sounds like initiation to me...
Bees have been visiting me regularly for several years now, setting up shop in and around my home. My mother once had a gigantic hive removed from inside a ceiling. Swarms are not uncommon out front on our plum tree. This past summer, when I was carrying my son Kali Ra, I was greeted by one very determined bumblebee. In fact, if not for his persistence in getting my attention, I'm sure it would have taken me much longer to put all of this together. He would fly around the back yard, disappearing into the distance, then return to rest directly in front of me as I sat at the picnic table on my deck. This went on for 30 or so minutes, with my mom chastising me for “wasting time talking to a bee.” It was clear to me that this little guy was trying to connect. I noted his sunken, “sucked out” appearance, which stirred me to Google “sick bees.” Low and behold, I found extensive information signaling dehydration and bee fatigue, with a suggested treatment protocol of presenting a honey and water mixture. How simple a solution, and how powerful a contribution, if this kind of care is of use to the skinny bumblebees of the world and known as a worthwhile support technique by more of us “two-leggeds.” Just like I was taught when raising butterflies in 3rd grade. Why hadn’t I thought of this, without having to scan the net? Perhaps this ignorance concerning of our capacity to help in simple ways points to a greater anthrozoological problem.
No doubt, there are many who would write off my interpretation of the experience I had with the skinny bee, attributing his presence to chance and my analysis as overly influenced by “pregnancy hormones” or a myriad of other, less inspired explanations. This kind of criticism isn’t unfamiliar. I know my truth and, as I recall The Beatle’s song “Let it Bee,” I remember how disempowering and futile it can be to try and convince another of something they do not have the eyes to see.
I don't consume animal products, so it was very strange to me when gifts of honey started showering me while pregnant. Never had I ever received honey as a gift, but now I have several bottles stockpiled. My son's middle name of Ra also has pertinence, as it is said that tears of the sun god Ra fell and formed honeybees, which went on to impart secret messages to mankind.
“When RA weeps again and the water which flows from his eyes upon the ground turns into working bees. They work in flowers and trees of every kind and wax and honey come into being.” - Salt Magical Papyrus
I am convinced that the offering of honey and water on my hospital room window sill was the only thing that allowed me a moment's rest over the four days in hospital following the birth of Kali Ra. In the moments immediately following his transition on the fourth day postpartum, I felt an overwhelming inclination to apply some of the raw honey I had been gifted at my blessingway ceremony to his tiny lips. His mouth glistened, as if breathing jewels into the world. His breath is no more, but the jewels remain ♡♡♡
I didn't understand the significance of all the bee visits, the uncanny gifts of honey, or my initiation with these powerful spirits until I met that skinny, determined bumblebee on my deck. Thanks to the skinny bee, the tears of Ra have fallen and the message has been received. We must share the plight of the bee and pay attention to all the animal encounters we are gifted with. Even the most painful ones. Our survival depends on our ability and success at interpreting the messages and honoring the messengers by acting upon them. We must protect the symbiotic relationship between Mother Earth and all of her inhabitants, from the mammoth to the minuscule... To say nothing of the bees’ intrinsic value and our responsibility of stewardship on this planet...
There is no being without the bee.