For the Love of Bees

Photograph © 2012 Peggy Kornegger
Photograph © 2012 Peggy Kornegger
Now that winter is over in New England, and spring bulbs are blooming in my garden, I am filled with sweet anticipation for the coming months of summer flower abundance. My life has increasingly revolved around the change of seasons since I moved to a house with a yard a few years ago. Although I have always filled my apartments with houseplants, I had never really gardened outdoors before. I read up on which flowers and bushes would bring butterflies and birds to the garden and slowly began to learn how to become a “midwife” to plant life.

Soon, butterflies and birds did indeed begin to frequent the flowers and bushes in my yard. Unexpectedly, though, it was the bees that completely stole my heart. I discovered that there were at least 5 or 6 different kinds that visited the flowers, including honeybees and bumblebees. I watched them all and learned more all the time, just by observing their behavior. The evening that I discovered a bumblebee curled up for the night on the petals of one of my zinnias, I fell in love. I felt such tenderness, as if it were my own child.

Over the weeks and months, I found that bumblebees also “slept” on blanket flowers, bachelor buttons, pincushion flowers, sedum, cosmos, and the butterfly bush. Their most interesting bed, however, was the 6-foot-tall Joe Pye weed, which has large clustered fluffy pink blossoms. In the late evening, I would often find 8 or 9 bees on the different levels of flower clusters, snuggled into their own down comforters. When it rained, they would hang beneath the flower clusters, using them as umbrellas while they rested.

In the mornings, if it was cool or damp, the bees would often “sleep in” until the sun warmed the air. Sometimes I would see a bumblebee slowly stretching its legs, one by one, as if limbering up after its night’s immobility. I always wished them good morning and good night, and I believe they were aware of my presence as a “friend,” occasionally buzzing up to my face in greeting. I’ve had butterflies behave in a similar fashion, sometimes even landing on my chest or arm to sit in the sun. It was a beautiful life lesson about the conscious intelligence of all beings.

Bees, which many people hardly notice, provide irreplaceable support to the cycles of life on Earth by pollinating the flowers. The massive deaths of honeybees and bumblebees in recent years have been heartbreaking. The probable cause: pesticides and herbicides used by agribusiness, landscapers, and often homeowners as well. It is my hope that people will begin to understand the wisdom and urgent necessity of gardening and eating organically, for the health of our bodies, our planet, and all the creatures that inhabit it. You only have to fall in love with one flower, one tree, one animal, or one bee to feel the interconnectedness of all life. In one(ness) is the survival of all.

Note: A reader has reminded me that GMOs are another likely culprit in the collapse of bee colonies. Thus the key importance of the current consumer campaign against GMOs in the U.S. For more information, visit: http://www.organicconsumers.org/bees.cfm.

New-Earth Day

“A new heaven is the emergence of a transformed state of human consciousness, and a new earth is its reflection in the physical realm.”—Eckhart Tolle

Forty-two years ago, the first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. It was the beginning of a long journey back to fully recognizing our planet as our mother, our home. Our energy, our consciousness, and our ultimate destiny are inextricably interwoven with that of Mother Earth. Humans have strayed so far from that awareness, lost in the extremes of separation and denial. Yet, slowly we are making our way back to seeing our oneness—our oneness with all living beings and our oneness with the planet we call home.

Some may look around and see only disaster and suffering—global warming, human destruction of the environment, the callous attitudes of corporate and political leaders. Still, there are ever-widening cracks in the facade of business as usual. People, young and old, are gathering together to bring about life-affirming change, in spite of the forces set against them. People are speaking out against the proliferation of chemicals in the food we eat, against the uncurbed killing of trees for timber, against the unnecessary dependence on fossil fuels for energy, against the loss of habitat and wilderness. Countless groups are working to bring our planet back to full alignment with its blue splendor and green magnificence.

One such group is Trees, Water & People (www.treeswaterpeople.org). Their stated goal is to “improve people’s lives by helping communities to protect, conserve, and manage the natural resources upon which their long-term well-being depends.” Specifically, their work includes a fuel-efficient, forest-saving cookstove program, community-led reforestation projects, a tribal renewable energy program, and watershed health programs. The Organic Consumers Association is another dynamic grass-roots public interest group (http://www.organicconsumers.org). They are concerned with issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, fair trade, and environmental sustainability. Their over one million members take part in campaigns to urge public officials and politicians to address matters of concern to local and global communities, such as labeling genetically modified foods and stopping the pervasive use of pesticides, herbicides, etc.

Thousands of other groups and millions of individuals are now participating in the co-creation of a new Earth, one in which humans no longer heedlessly destroy the very environment that sustains them. The wisdom of indigenous peoples who have traditionally thought of the impact of their actions upon generations yet to come is finally approaching critical mass in the collective world consciousness. We still have so much yet to do, but looking back over 42 years, what we have achieved together is no small feat.

Celebrate Earth Day this year by buying organic vegetables and fruit at local farmers markets or food coops, taking part in a local tree-planting activity, or asking two or three friends to help you pick up trash in a local park. Attend an Earth Day celebration near your home and learn about all the community activities available to help our planet in small and large ways. You can also visit global online sites such as Earth Day Network (www.earthday.org) and participate in projects like their Billion Acts of Green campaign. Finally—take a few moments to look around with conscious awareness and appreciate the extraordinary beauty of our precious home sweet Earth. Happy New-Earth Day!