Can honey bees help humans mental health?

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

Sharing the start of my 2 week pilgrimage I began Sunday to raise awareness of the needs of the honey bee and make my way back to the land. I am cycling 950km on my own, starting along the Camino Del Norte with a tent, sporting a bee cape. The aim is to start a much bigger conversation around the plight of the honey bee and their role on this planet. This trip seems to have created a desire in me to write.

We know the honey bee pollinates a third of our food and their presence is seen to bring an increase in food production by 25%. Whilst this is immense in itself, was this the reason the honey bee was so honoured and revered in cultures gone by?

My experience of being with the honey bee, whilst not scientific and not mainstream, are occurrences shared by numerous people around the world. From prisoners working with bees to school children. I have come to learn that the honey bee is responsible for energetically clearing space and keeping humans mentally well.

In year 1 of our Portugal project, Phil and I were having a series of arguments. To the extent we questioned whether we wanted to continue in the project together. At the height of the tension, we decided to sit by the hive of Artemis, the first swarm that arrived on the land. As we sat, both in tension, a single female honey bee came out of the hive. For about the next 10 minutes she circled in her lemniscate dance around us. Moving between Phil and I, with a rigour and determination to clear what we were both holding. As each moment passed, our tension lessened and we witnessed in awe what this bee was doing for us. It circled our bodies continually until peace just remained.

When her work was done, she returned to the hive. Phil and I looked at each other, everything had dissolved, we had very little words to say. This honey bee had released what no longer served us and also reconfirmed the importance of the work we were doing. If this was a human, one would call this little being a healer, a shaman, a doctor or a priestess, depending on the area one comes from. This, for me, is one of the reasons bees have been honoured throughout history and known as sacred.

In this time, when humans are so mentally sick, the freedom of the honey bee is critical to help us turn around not only our health issues but the damage we have caused to our ecosystem. When the honey bee is controlled (prevented from swarming, put in unhealthy habitats, colonies split, chemicals put in the hive to treat disease, queen breeding, honey taken etc.) - all they can do is barely keep themselves alive. When the honey bee is allowed to behave naturally and not controlled by humans, it can dedicate itself to getting healthy again like it has been for millions of years. From this place it can go back to its task of helping humans and land regeneration.

Writing this is not to judge modern day beekeepers. We have all been born into a society of humans controlling and have normalised this. Together we all need to unlearn, so we can re-learn and acknowledge our mistakes together without shaming each other. The planet can no longer sustain humanity if we continue to control the other species we share earth with. Particularly the honey bee, a key species for our survival. To a beekeeper reading this who controls their colonies. Do not judge me, pause and give space for a few moments, and see what else arises in you.

I write this as I pilgrimage, knowing humans walked these roads to be in gratitude to life, to honour nature and to be in service to something greater then their individual self. I am just realising how perfect combining a pilgrimage and the health of the bees really is.

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