It’s spring here in the North Country and while every season has its delights, spring holds a particular enticement… no more heavy coats and boots, the warmth of the sun on your skin, you can sit outside in the evening. Like the plants in my garden, I seem to be sprouting too.
I’m a beekeeper and spring means visiting the hives and getting them ready for the season. Winter covers come off, bottom boards cleaned, checking to see if the bees have enough food for the weeks that remain before the plants start to blossom.
I began beekeeping about 15 years ago. My brother bought a farm, and it was always on my bucket list to keep bees. So I had a place to start. I voraciously read books, took a course at the local agriculture college, found my bee teacher Kurt, and got my first hives.
At this time, I was also in recovery from a great loss. My middle daughter had died of cancer the year before. I was struggling to find my way back into life. Somehow I thought the bees could help me. I didn’t realize then just how much healing they would bring simply through the joy and pleasure of hanging out with them.
The bee yard is a very quiet, peaceful place. Bees are busy but never hurried. I strive to learn this skill from them! To be in the bee yard and not get stung, you must be in tune with the bees. I tell people to assume a stance of quiet, relaxed, slow and mindful energy. Usually I’ll visit and work with the bees on a sunny day when they are very preoccupied with collecting nectar. To enter into this space is so tranquil and alive.
There are many treasures for the senses in the bee yard – the hum of the yard as the bees go about their work. I believe the hum of the hive is the sound the universe makes – deep, resonating and sustained. There are amazing smells, a unique blend of honey, beeswax and propolis, a substance the bees make to seal the spaces in the hive. The little creatures crawl on my hands as I maneuver the frames. They are just checking me out. I love the warmth of the sun on my body as I work with the bees or just sit and take it all in.
Here’s what I see – the bees coming and going from the hive, their waggle dance telling the others where to find the harvest, the interactions between worker bees and drones. I get such pleasure from observing the life of the hive and this tiny community. I’ve often just laid on the ground near the hives, feeling nurtured by the earth beneath me, and the sounds, smells and sights of the yard unfolding around me. This is a healing space.
In the early days, I didn’t know the healing power that comes from doing things that call to and draw out our sensory awareness. I just knew the bee yard helped me. Now I know why.
When we tune in on the sensory level, we touch into the nervous system and help it regulate. The setting and holding the stance required to be in harmony with the bees brings the same benefits as meditation – plus the added benefits of being in nature, through which we can let go and receive support.
Tell me what’s your favorite way to enjoy spring and the outdoors? Do you notice it brings a healing calm to your body? What senses are awakened at this time for you?
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Madeline combines her experience as a gifted teacher and facilitator with her exquisite sensitivity to guide us into unlocking pleasure. In her gentle way she helps us to make friends with our bodies, softening the places where we feel resistance, shame and pain and learn how to tune into the myriad sensations of pleasure. She embodies her teaching and the expression of her own pleasure is contagious. Madeline creates a safe space to (re)discover that we are wired for pleasure and can overcome the negative conditioning of fear, trauma, and messages of “not good enough”.