On Becoming a Beekeeper by Vanessa Lamorte Hartshorn
I want to begin with, I wasn’t always this interested in bees. There was a time in my life where they scared me and I would run and scream away from them. As I grew older (like 22+) I developed a special respect for them as I learned more about their function in our world. Bees are probably the most instrumental little beeings for our planet. I’ll try not to overdo it with the puns but you better beelieve it’s too easy. This is my beekeeping journey.
Just after Winter Solstice 2018, the vision to take up beekeeping came into my awareness. Although I loved and respected bees, becoming a beekeeper was nowhere in my foreseeable future. From that meditation, I shared Spirit’s vision with Victoria, my colleague and sister-priestess, whom immediately fell in love with the idea. (She’s featured in this issue. Check out her piece here) She also felt passionately about helping the Earth in this way and together we decided to go for it. For my 28th birthday in January 2019, I set up a GoFundMe asking family, friends, clients and soul family to donate to the cause. Just two days after its launch, we reached our goal and then some! (THANK YOU SOUL HIVE!) After a lot of research and logistical planning, we were blessed with the opportunity to bring the vision from a dream to a reality and to host our hive on sacred land at the Sekhmet Temple in Cactus Springs, Nevada.
On April 22nd (EARTH DAY!), our Italian honey bee package came from Utah to the local beekeeper and hive builder we were working with. The package contained 3,000 bees and our queen! With his guidance, we installed the hive and introduced the bees to their new home. June 5th we had our first hive opening with another mentor, where we inspected the hive for honey and comb. We had a LOT for a brand new hive, only a month and a half into the game. Then on August 25th we had our second hive opening, this time on our own. It was exhilarating and also terrifying. The hive is growing everyday. At the first opening, we had around 9,000 or 10,000 bees. But a hive that is four months old is almost a full colony, which is approximately 20,000 bees. I would say we had around 17,000 to 18,000 bees. Their natural inclination is to swarm and sting when threatened. Although we are their “people” they don’t know that and feel disturbed during hive inspections. We do our best to keep them calm with the smoke of natural things like cedar, pine or mulch. But, having thousands of bees around you while you’re working a hive is definitely intense. I am still working on that part! When we open it again next month and close it up for the winter, I would presume for us to be at full capacity. Sadly, bees will start to die as it gets colder. It’s the circle of life, I know. But I’m sentimental.
What is interesting though is that beekeeping was always in my blood; I just didn’t know it. I often wonder if that’s what led me here. My mother’s father, my Nonno Arturo, was a master gardener with a green thumb that could grow anything, even luscious fruits and vegetables here in the desert of Las Vegas, Nevada. His father, my great-grandfather Michele was a beekeeper. I grew up close to nature and with the belief that our earth and her keepers, human, animal or insect, were to be respected and cared for. Over the last few years, the gifts of my lineage were calling me to follow the beekeeping path. Bees showed up in my awareness at the most synchronous times. Mostly when I was needing to deepen my listening to nature and her rhythms. When the opportunity came about to bring bees to the temple and merge my love of bees with my priestess-ship, it felt like Spirit was speaking loud and clear to me: "It's time to do this now." For now, we are beginning with one hive, but it is my hope that we can be a haven for many hives in the near future to add blessing to our global bee crisis.
Bees are the sacred guardians of our Earth. They are the magical beings behind the fertility of our plants, trees, flowers and ultimately...food. As part of my service in beekeeping, education is paramount. Not everyone has the opportunity to keep bees but everyone does have access to their CHOICES. Here are some things about honey bees that fascinate me and in no particular order. Maybe it will inspire you to also bee a bee ambassador in one way or another (got one more pun in there for ya!)
It is said that more than a third of the food we eat relies upon the work of the bees. But we are not the only ones that are dependent upon the longevity of the bees. Pollination through bees also supports the healthy growth of food and habitats for other animals such as birds and other insects. They are a vital member of our global network and it's important for us to protect them!
This might seem obvious, but herbicides and pesticides like RoundUp kill bees. It is nice and convenient to not have weeds or pests in our gardens, but not at the cost of our bees. Diatomaceous Earth is a good alternative.
In beekeeping folklore, it is said that the keepers of a hive were to report any new developments in their family to the bees such as the birth of a child, an engagement, a wedding, or the death of a loved one. The bees are to be the first to know, if possible. This is because bees are guardians of the portals between realms and they offer blessing to their keeper (in this case two) and their family. As much as WE keep them, they keep us. I went to talk with my bees and inform them of my cousin Mikey’s unexpected death on 7/9. A little worker bee zipped passed me with the sweetest energy almost as if she was “petting” my aura, reminding me it would be okay.
Did you know a honey bee queen only mates once in her life? (What a short-lived sex life!) Once a colony decides she will be queen, she flies up into the air and will mate with several drones (male bees).
And then she’ll store the sperm in her cloaca, a cavity in her body, using it to lay eggs as she needs.
The queen can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day
Honey Bees’ Wings Vibrate to 432, which is the frequency of cells. Most Ancient Egyptian instruments unearthed are tuned to 432. The radius of the Sun is 432 million miles across and is the average frequency of a baby’s cry. It resonates with the Heart Meridian & Chakra. 432 creates a symmetrical, cymatic mandala in every water droplet of your body. It is found in sacred sites such as the Great Pyramids & Stonehenge. It resonates with Earth’s vibration.
Honey bees can live up to 6 weeks. The bees in my hive now, other than the queen, are all different bees than the first time we met.
The queen can live up to 3 years.
Humans can live off bee pollen alone as it is protein and nutrient rich
They can fly up to 5 miles per day
Honey never expires!
For Vanessa’s bio, head here.