Bees, Trees, and Non-Verbal Communication

“Honeybees know when you are anxious.” 

“Honeybees know if you just want to make money from their honey.”

“Honeybees know if you are in alignment with them.”

How do bees know that the people who approach them are anxious? How do they know what someone’s deeper intentions are regarding keeping and tending them? Bees have such an incredible hold on our psyches, so much so that many of the worlds’ mythologies have at least one bee story. 

This week bees have literally buzzed into our lives with the long awaited arrival of two hives. Over the years we have heard many a story from beekeepers about the intentionality of keepers and how bees instinctively respond. The first statement listed above was by an urban beekeeper neighbor who helped transfer the bees from their ‘nuc’ to their permanent wooden hives. The other statements were made by other beekeepers we know. The synchronicity surrounding non-verbal communication was obvious and thus continues the conversation from last week’s blog. 

My partner has an incredible affinity with bees. She whispers to them not in the way she did with our dog because she totally gets they are miniature wild creatures but as a way of being in conversation with them. She has been known to hold out her hand and have five crawl over her. Her affinity with bees reminds me of the beloved Idgie Threadgoode in the film Fried Green Tomatoes.  She approaches them with a completely open heart and they respond to her accordingly. Me, not so much. My caution started when I was seven and watched in horror as my younger brother was taken away in an ambulance after he went into anaphylactic shock due to a bee sting. I like bees and I absolutely respect them but I do not, as yet, have the same natural affinity with bees. Obviously, I need to spend time clearing the residual fear I have from that incident with my brother in order to open my heart to their incredible vibrational energy.  

Bees, like any other living, breathing entity on the planet, and including the planet, are made up of atoms. In other words we are all made up of energy, and that energy carries the vibration of intention and emotion. Think for a moment about someone who is sad, if we are able to place our awareness outside ourselves, then we will likely sense, see, or feel the other person’s emotional state before they confirm verbally. The same is true of someone who is happy or angry. Our emotions literally fill the space around our physical body and we carry that into and through our day into our: work, grocery stores, coffee shops, schools, and neighborhoods. I’m sure you’ve experienced the power that just one angry, sad, or happy person has on changing the feeling tone of a room. When lots of people emit the same emotional energy they create the feeling of a neighborhood, or area in a city, expanding out to an entire city or country. I’m sure you can think of your own examples of people or places, which make us, feel good, or uncomfortable, or which we enter with trepidation (or not enter if we are really honoring intuitive knowing).  

We also then carry our emotions into our natural environments and the interactions we have with gardens, forests, creeks, and animals. I use the words interactions withour gardens etc. deliberately. Whether or not we are aware, we are communicating or interacting with our natural world all the time. The trees in our yards and neighborhoods, the flowers, vegetable and herbs we grow are in constant communication with the humans that live in or visit the area. Animism is the term used to articulate the belief that every living thing, and even mountains and the wind, has a soul. While that may be a step too far for a lot of people, science proves that every living thing is made up of energy¾so use that as a starting point if you must. 

In 2018 Ikea, the big chain store, conducted a 30-day experiment in the United Arab Emirates. Ikea wanted to show the impact that our words have on recipients hearing those words and they conducted an experiment on plants. In short they set up two plants contained within separate glass containers. Children were encouraged to speak positively to one and negatively to the other. The results were astounding. In short, the plant that received direct positive affirmation thrived while the plant that received negative attention died. I’ve included the link below because it will give you a visual and time lapsed view of the literal impact we have on the environment we inhabit and how the energy we carry forward in the world interacts with all other living things: human, plant, animal, and mineral. What intention or emotion do you carry into the world around you?

Every time I set foot on my property, I look up and thank the Overstory trees that stand in a curve around the back of my house. Opening my heart I offer gratitude for their protection, for providing shelter to myself, the birds, the bees, and the creatures who live in our urban forest. Gratitude for the oxygen they provide, for helping cleanse the air of pollution from the nearby roads, for their strong roots that hold the earth and drink the excess water that comes from the watershed. 

Indigenous cultures and land-based communities understand the importance of living in reciprocity with the natural world around them. I’m not talking about trying to tame the wild places but to approach with an open heart, share, and take only what is needed; to give back and to offer gratitude. This approach is one of respect and equality with the natural world rather than dominance over it as is proclaimed in some of the world’s mythological and religious systems. It is the understanding that just because some folks can buy a million dollar teardown and clear-cut the land, doesn’t mean they should. Trees work together, they share a wind load when a storm comes through. Bees’ work together, there is no such thing as a hive with just one bee. Just as humans are both individual and communal beings, we are interconnected in ways that are invisible to the human eye but felt with the heart. 

Exercise: If you are willing, close your eyes; take a slow deep breath in and out. Place your hand upon your heart. Try both hands one at a time, one hand will feel more comfortable than the other. When you know which hand it is, take another few slow rhythmic breaths in and out. Ask yourself what does your heart feel. Can you open your heart to the energy in the room? Can you focus your attention on loving kindness or gratitude and make that feeling so full in your heart it resonates out into the world?