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We took a late harvest this year.  With eight hives up and a very late summer, we have left quite a bit of honey on the hives.

It has been a lovely “Indian summer’ here in the UK – but the Autumn leaves are now turning and the cold is setting in.

We had success creating three new hives from three Buckfast queens sent in the post from Scotland.  It will be interesting to see if we can get all the hives through the winter.

Interested to know if anyone has any ideas on creative ways to use the propolis that ends up being dregs of honey and wax extraction.

Here’s to a mild winter!

Beelore

 

Samson’s Riddle

Samson’s riddle is a riddle that appears in the biblical narrative about Samson.

Samson posed the riddle to his thirty Philistine guests, in these words: “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet” (Judges 14:14).

Samson S

Samson slaying the lion by Dore

The riddle was based on a private experience of Samson, who killed a lion and after a while found bees and honey in its corpse.

(It is very interesting that there are other ancient references to bees taking up home in the dead carcasses of bulls and horses.  Perhaps the cavity and protection from nature provided an ideal home in areas where there were not so many trees or crevices?)

The Philistines, who could not solve the riddle, blackmailed the answer from Samson’s wife, who persuaded Samson to tell it to her.

“What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?” (Judges 14:18) is the answer to the riddle.

Most of text from: Wikipedia

‘Your Lord inspired the bee, saying: “Make your homes in the mountains, in the trees, and in the hives which men shall build for you.  Feed on every kind of fruit, and follow the trodden paths of your Lord.”  From its belly comes forth a syrup of different hues, a cure for men.  Surely in this there is a sign for those who would take thought.’

From the Quran, The Bee, 16:68

The Song of the Swarm

“Perhaps the one stage in bee-keeping that requires the least protection and minimum of courage is “swarm catching” – that is, taking natural swarms after they have alighted in a cluster on a bush or other object they have chosen for the purpose.  To me, it is one of the most interesting sights in Nature to watch a swarm leaving the parent stock, rising on the wing, and performing beautiful, mazy evolutions like a country dance mid-air, to the accompaniment of a soft, melodious, gentle hum, so indicative of peace, goodwill, and enjoyment at the prospect of establishing a successful home of their own; the main body keeping up these beautiful movements whilst the scouts are flying hither and thither in search of a suitable spot on which to alight; and then to see them hasten to a bush in thousands, and threading in and out amongst foliage, and now here, and there, until the scouts trumpet forth the call to assemble.  I have never yet discovered that call, but it must be well known to the bees; for when the spot on which to alight is found, and the call is made, you will see all the bees that are on the wing head towards it, even those that form the most distant circle.

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When the place of assemblage is found, what a change takes place in their song! from the gentle, peaceful hum to one of ecstatic delight.  Note again, if the bees have made up their mind to go farther afield to form a new home, there will be a change in their movements and their song.  Instead of making easy, graceful movements to and fro. the whole swarm will become agitated, the scouts will be called in, and their song becomes one of great disappointment, not to them, but to you, when you see your cherished hope rising in the air like a solid mass, and with a sharp cry and rapid movement they make for – you know not where.  “But,” you say, ” I was given to understand that bees were always led by the queen – that she gave the call, and directed their movements; – is not that why  they beat the tom-tom or ring the frying-pan with the door key?”  Not a bit of it.  That is an old superstition, grown out of a custom declaring the ownership of a swarm of bees when on the wing.  It was equal to the ringing of a bell and saying, “This is to give notice these bees belong to me.”  I have more than once seen the queen on a leaf some feed from where the swarm was clustering.  I have seen her parading to and fro on a rail while the swarm was clustering on the post, the bees paying not the slightest attention to her.  At other times I have seen her alight on the cluster and burrow in amongst them.  Evidently she has been on the wing for some time after the main body had settled.”

From: Australian Beelore and Bee Culture by Albert Gale (Late Bee Expert and Lecturer on Apiculture to the New South Wales Government).  Published in 1912.  Extracted from: Chapter XV – Swarm Catching, Hiving and Transferring pp,86-89

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!

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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

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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!

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.

The…

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