A few months ago, I was baffled when my boss gave me a book about beekeeping for my birthday. While I enjoy honey and have always had a healthy respect for bees, my interest has never gone beyond that, so I wasn’t sure how to react to this unexpected gift. But my boss has an otherworldly knowing and assured me that, once I perused these pages, I’d never look at bees or the natural world in the same way again. As usual, she was right.
In Song of Increase, author Jacqueline Freeman tells the story of how she became an accidental beekeeper when a friend offered her some bees to tend on her farm in the Pacific Northwest. Having no prior knowledge about beekeeping, but possessing a keen intuitive sense, Jacqueline sat quietly next to the hive for a time to simply observe. As she did, she began to experience a feeling of joy emanating from the bees while they went about their work.
Over time, as she learned the rhythms and routines of the hive, she started tuning more and more to the bees’ frequency and began receiving direct and detailed messages about the inner workings of the colony, its vital purpose on the planet, the magic of the hive mind, and the various songs the bees sing as they carry out their tasks, including a celebratory anthem of abundance known as the “song of increase.”
Skeptics and cynics may doubt her story or even question her sanity, but these insights have given her a unique perspective on how to care for a colony of bees. Much of what she learned runs counter to the practices of conventional beekeeping, and this “bee-centric” method—focusing on the bees’ needs rather than our own needs from the bees—restores the sacred trust between human and hive, helping both to thrive.
This book gave me a glimpse into a world of industry, harmony, and beauty that I’d never fully appreciated or understood before. The eloquence of the bees is expressed in both action and awareness, as they comprehend the interconnectedness of all things and embrace their role within the whole. We have much to learn from them.
I don’t think I’m up to the practice of beekeeping—yet—but now I’m more likely to pause and acknowledge the bees in my own backyard, taking a moment to radiate gratitude for their tireless work and wisdom. And in the midst of a rainy winter week here in Southern California, I’m already dreaming of the bee-friendly flowers I plan to plant in the spring, because a garden in full bloom and buzzing with activity—that’s the bee’s knees.
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