Honoring Reciprocity

We have two beehives we have been tending since April. A couple of weekends ago, we, along with some friends extracted honey from our hives. Under the careful watch of an experienced mentor we cut and spun the frames and sealed the honey for storage. Later that evening, we placed all the frames under the eaves, safe from potential rain, for the bees to come and clean off any remaining honey. After all, they have spent months making it and we disrupted their process and took some of their honey, which is ultimately their personal and collective food source. We deliberately left three boxes on each hive, each with 10 frames full of honey (so 60 frames in total) for the bees for over winter. 

 As earlier posts attest, bees are incredibly tuned into a keeper/ tenders intentions. They know if you are here to tend and work with and for them or to simply make money off of their hard work. Human beings need food, water, and air to survive but for a lot of people we go about our daily lives unconscious of all that is needed to maintain our earthly existence. Indigenous cultures understand that human beings are not ‘above’ all other sentient beings. Rather, humans must work in harmony with all other life forms. A sentient being is anything that can feel, and depending upon your particular belief system this definition could be as narrow as humans or as broad as every living thing on the planet, including the planet. 

 Certain segments of western culture have been pontificating for centuries that human beings rule over all other living beings. This is a very head and thus egocentric perspective; the kind of thinking that believes man (human) is superior to the rest of the planet creates some difficult power dynamics, which as we are witnessing, are very difficult to redress. A “human is superior” approach also underlies a lack of empathy, for anything or anyone deemed less than the perceived ideal. A lack of self-measurement creates an overuse of resources; a lack of being able to perceive consequences leads to denial and thus the time, money, and response needed to address issues. 

 Collectively, humans are like greedy, fearful, entitled children without boundaries. We take until there is no more to take then destroy the remains because it cannot satisfy our greed any longer. Yet, humans do not live in isolation from each other or the world around us. Every action we take, decision we make, or don’t make, has broad consequences. We seem to have placed individualism over and above our deep human need for community and interconnectivity. To return to our hives for a moment, bees must work together in order for the hive to be healthy. There is just no such thing as one individual bee setting out on its own to start a new colony. What one single bee does, how much pollen or nectar it returns home with impacts the whole hive and how much honey is produced. If one bee comes back with poison on it from a plant or insecticide then that also affects every other bee. Humans are of course not bees but it is a living analogy I have outside my office window and a constant reminder that working together is crucial for their (and our) survival. Without bees to pollinate, we humans would not have one-third of our fresh food, so these little creatures are integral to human survival. 

 Connection with each other and the world around us is essential. Reciprocity signals an acknowledgement that a mutually beneficial relationship must be respected if it is to be sustained harmoniously. Humans are in a mutually beneficial relationship with all sentient beings and the world itself, thus one small way we can honor that dynamic is by making offerings.

 Our personal offerings do not need to be massive grandiose gestures, in fact huge gestures are likely to be ego driven. Conscious offerings, to the world itself or a particular set of creatures that help sustain our existence, no matter how small are key because they allow us to stay firmly in the present moment and remember our interconnectivity with everything around us. 


What is an Offering and how do you make one? 

 The What: An offering is a gift that is given in honor of an important relationship. An offering is an acknowledgement that you benefit from the relationship, are respectful of the relationship, and understand that your life would be very different without the relationship. 

 The How: 1. Think about a person, creature, or resource you are grateful for in your life?

                 2. What is something that would benefit or honor them that is not something you would normally give or do?  

                 3. Find a place in your home, yard, deck, or outdoor space that is in a low traffic area.   

                 4. As you place your item fill your heart with gratitude or consciously think about how your life would be different without them/it. 

 Offering Suggestions: These can be either literal or symbolic gestures of gratitude.

Water, Honey, Watermelon (for the bees), Tobacco, Salt, Sage, Money, Rose

Petals, Apples, Candles, Incense, Corn, Nuts.    

Songs, Chants, Prayers, or Tears 

Stacking Stones, Written Notes, Crystals.

Fire (small, contained)



 Sit or stand and place both hands on your chest at heart level. Think about the water you have used today. The air you have breathed today. The fire you have used for cooking or heating water today. The soil you have stood on or upon which your home stands. 

Slowly allow yourself to fill with gratitude for all that sustains you. 

Without overthinking, what is one small offering you can make? Consciously make that gesture in gratitude.