The older I become, the clearer I become about one thing. Life is all about flow.  And the current modern madness that we see in society is mainly due to us being “out of the flow” and not “in the zone”.

What do I mean?

Last week, a friend asked me to act as a witness at a local planning enquiry.  It was no normal planning enquiry.  It lasted five days and had barristers for the prosecution (the district council) and the defence (my friend).  It was more like the hearing of a legal case in a court of law.

I was asked to turn up as a witness on the final day last Friday.  Having just come off a week’s training in presentation skills, I thought I would put them to the test.  I knew I had a very short slot (10 minutes maximum).  I decided to take up five.  I wanted to create maximum impact.  How should I go about it?

A bit more context.  My friend and his wife allow me to put my eight hives on their land.  Their land is an oasis of natural flora and fauna – itself nestled in an ancient woodland in area of outstanding natural beauty.  It is so unique, it has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (or SSI).

My friend and his wife live onsite to manage the woodlands.  They also allow me to keep eight hives on their land.  They were merely seeking permission to extend their project for another three years.  They live off-grid practicing the most sustainable living of any family I know.  To be applauded and copied, you would think, – particularly in this modern era of climate change and sustainable living.  But no.  The establishment was not happy.  My friends might set a precedent.  We might have hundreds of woodland owners taking to living in the woods and becoming feral.  And that is not a good thing, apparently.

The previous four days of inquiry and inquisition had been hell for all involved.  An important stand against the erosion of some law written somewhere or a total waste of precious government money?  Not for me to decide, but I tend to believe it was the latter.  The final day was for supporters to give evidence.  Throughout the whole week, no one turned up to oppose the proposal.

I arrived at 09.30 and got the first speaking slot for the day.  I did not speak on behalf of myself. I petitioned on account of the bees that I keep!  Everyone knows that bees are under threat.  I described the project as a colony of bees might.  Appreciating my friends generosity allowing them to have the bees on their land and at their gallant efforts to protect and conserve the nature in these ancient woodlands.  At the end of the short talk, I stood up and offered everyone in the room a pot of this year’s honey.  The courtroom melted.  I was so in the flow or “in the zone”.  It was a deeply moving experience.  It was brilliant!


From Wikipedia:  In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone  It is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.

Named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields (and has an especially extensive recognition in Occupational Therapy), though has existed for thousands of years under other guises, notably in some Eastern religions.   Achieving flow is often colloquially referred to as “being in the zone”.

Jeanne Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi identify the following six factors as encompassing an experience of flow.

1. Intense and focused concentration on the present moment

2. Merging of action and awareness

3. A loss of reflective self-consciousness

4. A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity

5. A distortion of temporal experience, one’s subjective experience of time is altered

6. Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience


Earlier this week I took on two new mentees.  Folk who have been washed-out of the corporate system.  “Over fifty and out”.  Both trying to face the new uncertain world for post-corporate man.  Again, faced with a challenge to know the right thing to do, I constructed a short course in realignment.  Before plunging into the more standard questions that treat individuals like 20th-century companies – like “what is your personal mission statement”, I reflected back on what had worked for me in the past when I was a mentored twenty years ago.  The first step in the process was to write six to eight stories (or vignettes) where I felt good about something I had achieved.  Each story took about a page to write-up.  The common theme for me was that at some stage in all stories across I was “in the flow” or “in the zone”.

In the run-up to 2016, I am going to use the weekly Thursday Thoughts slot to build on the idea of filling our lives with events where we are truly “in the zone”.
If you are interested in exploring these ideas in the last few weeks of 2015 and launch yourself into 2016 with new energy and enthusiasm, then as an exercise, I suggest write down six to eight events in your life that you were “in the zone” and achieved something extraordinary for yourself or others.

  • What was the context?
  • How did you feel?
  • What were you experiencing when “in the zone”?
  • Who were you in service to at the time?

If you feel inclined, please pick the best story and share your experiences with us!  Particularly if it involved bees!

A friend sent me a link to a beautifully illustrated book with a poem from Francis Bacon.  Click on the illustration and it will take you to a page where you can download the book.

The Bee Takes a Middle Way



Over the past years, this has become the most popular post on this blog. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Originally posted on Bee Lore:

According to one ancient egyptian myth, honey bees were the tears of the sun god Ra.  In this context, the bee was seen as the messenger of the gods, falling down, like tears, towards the earth (and man) to pass on some secret message.


The above symbol was called the Udjat in ancient times.  It is now more commonly called the Eye of Ra or Eye of Horus and represents the right eye of the Egyptian Falcon God Horus and was also associated with the Sun God Ra.  It is supposed to be where the tears (or bees) came from.

According to another legend, the left eye was torn from Horus by his brother Seth. It was magically restored by Thoth, the God of Magick.  After the restoration, some stories state, Horus made a gift of the eye to Osiris, which allowed this solar deity to rule the underworld.


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The swarming season is drawing to an end.  We caught one final swarm this week – making it a total of five.  Two of the swarms decided to move on within days of being put into their new home.  I have often found this happening when there are several really hot days after the swarm has been moved.  It is only natural, I suppose.  We have enough colonies, anyway.

As June draws to a close, the June gap has taken away the youthfulness of Spring and the seasons are drawing breath before the garden once again flourishes with July and August colours.  I can’t wait for the purple firework displays of the buddleia to come out!

I was moved this week by a fascinating insight into  Rabindranath Tagore’s “Relevance for the Future of Spirituality and of Humanity” by Deepak Chopra given a few years back at the Tagore Festival.  It is well worth watching: I have not come across Tagore’s work before – but Chopra kept referring to a book of poems of his called Gianjali which I downloaded (for free) from  an amazing website called The Spiritual Bee.

Here is part 89 of the collection.  It really struck a chord for me.  I hope you enjoy it too!

“No more noisy, loud words from me ⎯ such is my master’s will. Henceforth I deal in whispers. The speech of my heart will be carried on in murmurings of a song.  Men hasten to the King’s market. All the buyers and sellers are there. But I have my untimely leave in the middle of the day, in the thick of work.

Let then the flowers come out in my garden, though it is not their time and let the midday bees strike up their lazy hum. Full many an hour have I spent in the strife of the good and the evil, but now it is the pleasure of my playmate of the empty days to draw my heart on to him; and I know not why is this sudden call to what useless inconsequence!”

This week, Susie (my wife and I) caught two swarms of bees. One on Monday. The other on Wednesday.
in previous years, the swarming season has started earlier. But in no year have the bees been so easy to catch.
In each case, the two swarms were clustered on branches of young trees about 4 feet off the ground.
Sometimes in life, things are easy to catch.
In previous years, they have been 15 feet in the air or clustered in difficult-to-catch nooks and crannies.
But this week, two swarms were there, waiting to be caught.
Not only that, but Susie took a video of me catching the first swarm – which you can see on YouTube.
The second swarm Susie caught. It was so quick we did not have time to video it!
The joy of foraging!

Mark Thompson’s Halo

“For many years Mark Thompson, a beekeeper local to my area, had the bizarre urge to build a Live-In Hive – an active bee home you could visit by inserting your head into it. He was working in a yard once when a beehive spewed a swarm of bees ‘like a flow of black lava, dissolving, then taking wing.’ The black cloud coalesced into a 20-foot-round black halo of 30,000 bees that hovered, UFO-like, six feet off the ground, exactly at eye-level. The flickering insect halo began to drift slowly away, keeping a constant six feet above the earth. It was a Live-In Hive dream come true. Mark didn’t waver. Dropping his tools, he slipped into the

Mark didn’t waver. Dropping his tools, he slipped into the swarm, his bare head now in the eye of a bee hurricane. He trotted in sync across the yard as the swarm eased away. Wearing a bee halo, Mark hopped over one fence, then another. He was now running to keep up with the thundering animal in whose belly his head floated. They all crossed the road and hurried down an open field, and then he jumped another fence. He was tiring. The bees weren’t; they picked up speed. The swarm-bearing man glided down a hill into a marsh. The two of them now resembled a superstitious swamp devil, humming, hovering, and plowing through the miasma. Mark churned wildly through the much trying to keep up. Then, on some signal, the bees accelerated They unhaloed Mark and left him standing there wet, ‘in painting, joyful amazement.’ Maintaining an eye-level altitude, the swarm floated across the landscape until it vanished, like a spirit unleashed, into somber pine woods across the highway.”

From: Out of Control – Chapter 2 – Hive Mind by Kevin Kelly

A revolutionary new beehive called the FLOWhive is launching this week on Kickstarter. It apparently harvests honey in a very innovative way and is set to revolutionise beekeeping and honey harvesting worldwide.  If it works the way the marketing video says, then it could save hours of manual labour taking the supers off hives and extracting honey with all the mess it brings with it. The project goes live on Indigogo in the next few days.  I’m definitely going to look out and see what these guys are offering!


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