Sacred Honey Bee Evening video clip, CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO VIEW

Sacred Honey Bee Evening video clip, CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO VIEW
Click on this photo for a video of "Evening in Honor of the Sacred Honey Bee". Photo by Daniel Bahmani

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lost Tradition of the Sacred Bee Today’s Threat to the Honey Bee—a Reminder of Forgotten Wisdom?By Andrew Gough

Washington’s Monument, arguably the most enigmatic testament to America’s hope and vision for the future, also contains a powerful reference to its past: “Holiness to the Lord. Deseret,” it states, meaning ‘Holiness to the Lord, the Honeybee.’ The word ‘Deseret’ translates as Honeybee in the language of the Jaredites, a mysterious tribe that is believed to have migrated to the Americas during the time of the construction of the Tower of Babel, according to Mormon tradition. The existence of this peculiar dedication to a bee, let alone its meaning, has largely been forgotten; but those with eyes to see know that it hails from a time when civilizations that understood its contribution flourished and those who did not perished.

Quite simply, the bee is Earth’s most industrious pollinator of plants and trees, a vital function for sustaining life on Earth. They also provide important ritualistic, medicinal, and health food by-products, such as honey. To understand the bee’s importance is to appreciate how crucial these essentials were—still are—to any advanced society. When we look to the dawn of civilization and trace the veneration of the bee over time, only then do we realize how this diminutive creature may represent the greatest lost tradition in history.

Incredibly, bees over 100 million years old have been discovered in amber, frozen in time, as if immortalized in their own honey. The Greeks called amber Electron, associated with the Sun God Elector, who was known as the awakener, a term also given to honey—which resembles amber—a regenerative substance revered across the ancient world. This association led to the bees’ illustrious status amongst ancient man, exalting their fossilized remains over the preserved vestiges of all other insects.

Prehistory is full of clues that hint at ancient man’s obsession with bees. In the Cave of the Spider near Valencia in Spain, a 15,000-year-old painting depicts a determined looking figure risking his life to extract honey from a precarious, cliff-side beehive. Honey hunting represents one of man’s earliest hunter / gatherer pursuits—its very difficulty hinting at the genesis of the bee’s adoration in prehistory. And, of course, it was the bee that led ancient shamans to the plants whose hallucinogens transported their consciousness into the spirit world of the gods. Curiously, recent research has revealed that the sound of a bee’s hum has been observed during moments of change in the state of human consciousness, including individuals who have experienced alleged UFO abductions, apparitions, and near death experiences. Was this phenomenon known by the ancients and believed to have been one of the elements that made the bee special?

Honey Hunting in Spain

In Anatolia, a 10,000-year-old statue of the Mother Goddess adorned in a yellow and orange Beehive-style tiara has led scholars to the conclusion that the Mother Goddess had begun to morph into the Queen Bee, or bee goddess, around this time. At the Neolithic settlement of Catal Huyuk, rudimentary images of bees dating to 6540 BC are painted above the head of a Goddess in the form of a halo; and beehives are stylistically portrayed on the walls of sacred temples. Not surprisingly, it was the Sumerians who soon emerged as the forefathers of organized bee keeping. Mesopotamia—modern day Iraq—flourished from the early sixth century BC and is known as the cradle of civilization; and it is here that the Sumerians invented Apitherapy, or the medical use of bee products such as honey, pollen, royal jelly, propolis, and venom.

Sumerian reliefs depicting the adoration of extraordinary winged figures have often been interpreted by alternative history writers as proof of extraterrestrial intervention. In the context of the benefits of beekeeping, it is more likely they depict the veneration of bees. Significantly, the Sumerian images gave rise to the dancing goddess motif, a female dancer with her arms arched over her head that scholars believe represents a bee goddess priestess or shaman. The motif, which would become central to Egyptian symbolism, appears to allude to the bee’s unique ability to communicate through dance, the waggle dance as it is known, or the ability to locate food up to three miles from home and return to communicate its whereabouts to the hive through dance, sort of prehistoric satellite navigation.

So, society had discovered the immense value that bees provide, ten thousand years ago or more, back in the mist of prehistory. As life along the River Nile evolved and Dynastic rule in ancient Egypt slowly developed, the seeds of bee veneration had already been sown. But the tradition was about to be embraced like never before, or since.

The Bee Goddess in Ancient Egypt

Egyptologists, such as David Rohl, believe that Sumerian culture migrated across the Eastern Egyptian Desert and into the Nile Valley. This desolate expanse of Wadis is renowned for its pre-dynastic rock art depicting exalted-looking figures with exaggerated plume-like decorations. The unusual lines extending upwards from the main figures’ heads recall the antenna of the bee while hinting at the shape of the plumes that would characterize the headdress of Egyptian Kingship for thousands of years to come. The images also depict the Dancing Goddess motif, a woman with her hands bowed over her head just as the ‘dancing’ bee Goddess had been depicted in Sumerian and Central European reliefs thousands of years earlier. The icon is widespread in Egyptian mythology and appears to have originated from an understanding of the bee’s unique ability to communicate through ‘dance.’

Another clue to the bee’s artistic influence can be found in ceremonial Egyptian dress, which has certain stylistic similarities with the bee, namely the headdress, or nemes, which consists of alternating yellow and dark horizontal stripes. This visual synchronicity is discernible in many reliefs and sculptures but is perhaps best illustrated in the death mask of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh, Tutankhamen, which famously depicts the Pharaoh adorned in alternating black and yellow stripes or bands, just like a bee.

The Egyptian Death Mask

Egypt’s fascination with bees stems from the earliest of epochs. Northern Egypt, or the land stretching from the Delta to Memphis, was known as “Ta-Bitty,” or “the land of the bee.” King Menes, founder of the First Egyptian Dynasty, was bestowed with the office of “Beekeeper”, a title ascribed to all subsequent Pharaohs, and an image of the bee was positioned next to the Pharaoh’s cartouche.

The Egyptian God Min was known as the ‘Master of the Wild Bees’ and dates to 3000 BC or earlier. Similarly, the Egyptian Goddess Neith was a warrior deity also possessing fertility symbolism and virginal mother qualities, all attributes of the Queen bee. In Sais, Neith was regarded as the Goddess of the ‘House of the Bee’ and the Mother of RA, the ‘the ruler of all’. Egyptian mythology contains countless references to bees, including the belief that they were formed from the tears of the most important god in its pantheon, RA. The bee is even featured on the Rosetta Stone.

Bees are portrayed on the walls of Egyptian tombs, and offerings of honey were routinely presented to the most important Egyptian deities. Indeed, honey was the ‘nectar of the gods,’ and like the Sumerians before them, Egyptian physicians relied on its medicinal value for many important remedies and procedures, including early forms of mummification.

One Egyptian monument that exhibits a peculiar form of bee symbolism is the Saqqara step pyramid, which recalls the six-sided shape of a bee’s honeycomb, with six levels above ground and one very special level below—the Apis bull necropolis known as the Serapeum. Egyptologists believe that the Apis bull was bestowed with the regenerative qualities of the Memphite god Ptah—the Egyptian god of reincarnation. They also believed that those who inhaled the breath of the Apis bull received the gift of prophesy; and perhaps most importantly of all, the Egyptians believed that the bull was transformed into Osiris Apis, after death. ‘Bee’ in Latin is ‘Apis’, which may have derived from Sipa / Asipa in Mesopotamia; Sipa meaning ‘Great Shepherd in the Sky’ and Apis meaning Osiris. This relates to the belief that after death, the Pharaoh’s soul joined Osiris as a star in the constellation of Orion.

Legend tells us that an Apis bull produced 1000 bees, and that the bees represented souls. Intriguingly, the Egyptian Goddess Nut was the goddess of the sky—the domain of bees—and keeper of the title She Who Holds a Thou­sand Souls, which appears to refer to the 1000 bees—or souls—that are regenerated from the body of an Apis bull.

Similarly, the Hebrew letter Alef | Aleph carries the meaning ‘thousand’ and both the Proto-Sinatic Hieroglyphic and its Pro-Canaanite symbol depict a bull’s head, alluding to the fact that 1000 bees—or resurrected souls, are produced by the sacrifice of an Apis bull. Additionally, Christ—the saviour archetype of Osiris, renowned for his resurrection, is written in Hebrew as ‘QRST’ and carries the value 1000.

The ancient belief that bees were born of bulls leads me to think that the underground necropolis known as the Serapeum may have been a ritual center of regeneration designed to recycle souls from the heads of bulls, and not simply a mausoleum for bulls. Might the rituals carried out in the Serapeum represent the earliest form of Mithraism, the Roman mystery religion involving the ritualistic slaughter of bulls?

Another ancient culture influenced by the ancient Egyptians was the Minoan, a civilization with close ties to the ancient Egyptians who were experts in beekeeping, a craft they later imparted to the Greeks. This leads us to another fascinating aspect of Egyptian bee symbolism; the Sphinx, the famed rock-hewn statue known by the Egyptians as Hun nb, but re-named Sphinx by the Greeks. How does all this relate to the bee? Quite simply, the Minoan word for bee was ‘sphex’ (Hilda Ransome, The Sacred Bee P64, 1937).

So what can we conclude from this revelation? The civilization that educated the Greeks in the craft of beekeeping used the word ‘sphex’ to describe the bee—and the Greeks named the goddess-like rock statue ‘Sphinx’. Was the Sphinx already present when Menes first established Kingship and was it known that the Sphinx represented a bee goddess, hence the Pharaoh’s title, Beekeeper? The possibility is tantalizing, and given the Egyptians fascination with bees, not altogether far-fetched.

The Lost Tradition

The influence of Sumerian and Egyptian bee veneration spread to Greece, where Greek mythology depicted bees on the statues of their most important gods and goddesses and evolved the notion of bee Goddesses into the honored position of female bee shamans called Melissa’s, which later morphed into the sacred status of Sybil’s. In fact, the second temple at Delphi is said to have been made entirely by bees, and the great oracle stone resembling a hive encircled with bees.

The Omphalos and Bee Veneration?

The Romans practiced Mithraism, a secret religion predicated on the ritualistic slaughter of bulls that is reminiscent of Egyptian bull / bee rituals that were performed in the underground temple known as the Serapeum. Curiously, the practice appears to have been preserved in modern times in the controversial sport of Bullfighting, and many of Spain’s oldest bullrings are built on or near Mithras temples, confirming the association.

Mayan culture venerated the bee and depicted gods in its image in their most sacred temples; and as far away as India religions adopted bee gods and goddess into their mythology. Even the Catholic Church incorporated the bee as a symbol of the Pope’s authority; evidence of which can be seen in Vatican City today.

Beehive-styled stone huts were constructed in antiquity from Ireland to Africa, and many places in-between, such as Germany, where Heinrich Himmler, the most powerful man in Germany after Adolf Hitler, constructed the SS’s most sacred ritual chamber in the shape of a beehive in the basement of the 17th century Wewelsburg Castle.

Political movements, such as Communism, drew upon the altruistic behavior exhibited in a beehive as a blueprint for their ideologies;while rulers such as Napoleon followed the tradition of their ancestors, in this instance, the long-haired Kings of France known as the Merovingian’s—believed by some to represent the bloodline of Christ—whose famous King Childeric was discovered buried with 300 bees made of solid gold.

Precursor to the Fleur-de-lys

Not only did Napoleon ensure that the symbol of the bee was infused in the decor and style of the royal court, and greater society, he adopted ‘The Bee’ as his own nickname. It is also believed that the bee was the precursor to the fleur-de-lys, the national emblem of France. The theory is supported by many, including the French physician, antiquary, and archaeologist Jean-Jacques Chifflet. In fact Louis XII, the 35th King of France, was known as ‘the father of the pope’ and featured a beehive in his Coat of Arms.

And then there is the strange tale of Pierre Plantard, a Frenchman who in the later half of the 20th century promoted his association with the Merovingian’s and was regarded by some as the last direct descendant of Jesus Christ. Plantard claimed to have been a Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, a controversial society with considerable interests in the Merovingian lineages commissioned by Napoleon. Curiously, Plantard’s family crest featured both the fleur-de-lys and the bee, and he is purported to have written, ‘we are the beekeepers’ in his private correspondences.

French Freemasonry soon spread to the United States of America, aided by early American forefathers such as Thomas Jefferson, who wrote passionately about the importance of bees, while others such as President George Wash­ington featured the beehive on his Masonic apron. In no uncertain terms, early American society borrowed many of its philosophical principles from Freemasonry, which had incorporated bee symbolism and themes into its rituals, and established its government on the orderly, stable and altruistic behavior exhibited in a beehive, like societies and movements before them had for thousand of years.

An indication of the bee’s importance to early American forefathers is expressed in the fact that the entire Western Region of the United States was originally named Deseret (honeybee). Not surprisingly, folk culture embraced the bee, and the concept of ‘telling bees’ about the death of a loved one became common practice. The Austrian philosopher and esotericist Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) wrote and lectured extensively on the bee and predicted its demise in just under a 100 years time, right about now. So too did Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) predict the demise of the bee. The famed physicist is attributed with having said;

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

In 2008, bees began to die in alarming numbers; and four years after that—as Einstein is said to have predicted— is 2012, the date of an alleged new age brought about by a spiritual reawakening, or life-ending cataclysm, depending on which theory you believe. Curiously, the fate of the bee, like so many aspects of the world today—i.e. the economy, politics, etc.—is showing signs of recovery, as if echoing the fate of man, mirroring life as if it were part of our DNA and an element of our consciousness. And who knows, perhaps it is. After all, the bee has been held sacred since time immemorial for a reason, and that alone is a tradition worth remembering.

The author is Director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Sciences (ISIS), and Chairman of the long running es­oteric research society, The Rennes Group. He is currently working on a television documentary on the Sacred Bee.

Honeybee Sanctuary:

Andrew Gough - Hour 1 - The Sacred Veneration of the Honeybee

Exploring Turkey’s honey trails, empowering women entrepreneurs

12 February 2012 / ALYSON NEEL, ─░STANBUL

You are wandering along a winding path that cuts through a grassy meadow. The sky above you and the earth below you stretch on, interrupted only by jagged cliff faces and majestic mountain peaks in the far distance.

The brilliant sun warms your face as you drink in the beauty and serenity of nature in its purest form. You breathe in deeply as the fragrance of apple intermingled with hazelnut lingers about you.

And then you hear it. The sound that indicates you are near. At first it’s a barely audible buzz, but as you venture closer the humming intensifies. There before you stand rows of boxes curling to the shape of the hills rising and falling beneath you.

The village locals hug and kiss you, not as tourists or foreigners, but as guests and family.

And then the long-awaited moment arrives. A woman donning white coveralls and a veil gracefully dips her hand into one of the boxes and brings a golden, sticky substance to your lips. You close your eyes and savor the fresh, organic flavor of Turkish honey.

The adventure on which you’ve embarked is Balyolu (Honey Road), the first honey-tasting walking tour of its kind in Turkey.

The seven-day journey in northeastern Turkey leads Balyolu explorers down ancient nomadic walking routes, on which merchants traveling to and from the old Armenian capital and trade hub, Ani, roamed hundreds of years ago.

Balyolu adventurers crisscross these roads from village to village, stopping to sample local honey and cheeses, learn about local wildlife and artisan culture and explore one of Turkey’s wild frontiers. After trekking six to 10 miles each day, Balyolu pioneers relax, eat and stay with locals in their homes and village yurts.

Cat Jaffee, 25-year-old Fulbright Scholar and founder of Balyolu, calls the exciting venture a “five-sense experience.” “This truly is unlike any other tour in Turkey,” Jaffee confidently told Sunday’s Zaman.

And for at least two reasons, Jaffee is right.

Not only does Balyolu offer the exclusive experience of exploring ancient nomadic trade routes and staying under the roofs of Turkish villagers, but the non-profit also gives back to both the environment and female entrepreneurs in the region.

Social good can be oh-so-sweet

Burcu Uzer met Jaffee while volunteering -- first at the Turkish Festival in Washington, D.C., and then later while she was researching for Turkey’s social entrepreneurs at Ashoka, a project Jaffee was leading.

“I recall her mentioning Balyolu at that time and seeing her passion even in the rough idea stage,” said Uzer, who has lived in DC for the past nine years, six of which she worked at the Smithsonian Institution.

But Uzer, who is now the media and fundraising professional for Balyolu, told Sunday’s Zaman she is moving back to Turkey. “What makes Balyolu unique is the marriage of two powerful tools of development -- tourism and women’s empowerment,” she said. Uzer described eco-tourism as having “positive rippling effects” in that, in addition to spurring job creation and raising cultural awareness and understanding, it also “protects the environment if it’s done in a sustainable way. And, of course, the protection of the environment has a direct effect on our project as the bees need the untouched flora to produce and pollinate.”

The inspiration behind Balyolu and what truly sets the nonprofit apart, though, is how it gives back to women in eastern Turkey by empowering them to become entrepreneurs.

In fact, with the right amount of support, Jaffee asserted, “Women in Turkey’s Northeast are in a position to lead an organic beekeeping revolution.”

Jaffee, who has studied and lived among locals in northeastern Turkey on and off for years, said she knows the struggles faced by women in the region.

She knows the average income for a family in rural Turkey is about $20 per month, according to recent figures from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TURKSTAT). Jaffee knows women’s unemployment in Turkey ranks among the highest worldwide. And she knows from the number of women she has met, talked and lived with how engrained sexual violence is in northeastern Turkish culture.

But Jaffee also knows the region is poised for an economic revolution of the sweetest kind, and women will be the ones to lead it.

Pointing to the more than 9,000 varieties of flowers, incredible altitude variation and the indigenous, hardy Kafkas bee, Jaffee said: “The environment is as ideal as you are going to find for organic beekeeping. Beekeepers come from across Turkey to be here, and they have made this migration for hundreds of years.”

After visiting male beekeepers around the region to determine if they can be organic-certified, Jaffee said it is women, not men who will lead the future of organic beekeeping in Turkey. Most men have been beekeeping for years and already have up to 100 hives. “To purchase new unpainted hives, to acquire organic wax, to make sure all of the beekeepers in the area are organic, to stop migrating to warmer fruit crops in the winter, to stop feeding the bees sugar, to essentially start all over and then hope to pass certification would cost them thousands of lira,” Jaffee said.

Women, on the other hand, are new on the beekeeping scene, said Jaffee, mentioning the group of women who recently graduated from a three-month organic beekeeping course with the Marmara Group. These rookie female beekeepers have fewer hives, which allows them to experiment and learn from their mistakes.

And it’s not just older women readying themselves to brave the new frontier of organic beekeeping.

“From the ages of 17 to 80, beekeeping spans generations of women,” said Jaffee, as she tells the story of 17-year-old Duygu, who is likely one of the youngest certified beekeepers in Turkey.

Duygu, who just finished taking her university placement exam, is among five women under the age of 23 keeping bees in her village. Some of the girls would like to become beekeeping teachers and professional beekeepers, while others told Jaffee it would remain a hobby.

“While courses such as these [Marmara Group] have been done in the past and many women eventually do give up because they lack the right support and connection to markets, a long-term program that provides these services would help them launch this new skill into a full-fledged profession as a local, organic honey leader,” Jaffee said. “This would be the hope of Balyolu.”

Not only is the honey-tasting walking tour led and inspired by local women who are training to become world-class beekeepers and entrepreneurs, but Jaffee said the nonprofit also plans to pump proceeds from these tours back into the community to support these women in the form of marketing training, organic beekeeping workshops and rural business incubation.

In what she dubs the “Sweet Grant Program,” budding entrepreneurs will be able to submit business proposals to Balyolu for grants. “We want to support these women in building their own businesses. We will encourage them and offer ideas and guidance, of course, but the community will ultimately have to decide how the funds are invested,” Jaffee explained.

Matt Krause, an American who lived in ─░stanbul for years and stumbled upon Balyolu online, told Sunday’s Zaman it is Jaffee’s passion that got his attention. “What turns Balyolu from just another tour into a fascinating concept is how deeply and joyfully Cat immerses herself in the subject of bees and honey. I read her blog and was amazed to find her talking about bees as if they were people,” he said.

“I don’t care much about bees, but she does, and what better way to tour a place than to let someone who is proud to be madly in love with it show it to you through their eyes?” Krause posed.

Book an adventure, do social good

Because Balyolu is not only a tasty journey but also a force for social good, the start-up business venture needs support to get off the ground.

Balyolu can be found on Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. Each initiative has only 30 days to reach its funding goal. The project will only be funded if at least $35,000 is pledged by Feb. 26. As of Friday afternoon, Balyolu had already met half of its goal.

Even if they do not reach their target by Feb. 26, Jaffee said the project will go ahead if 40 people (10 people per trip) register for the four pilot tours.

“After completing our first four trips, we will have directly affected 100 people in our local community, paying each one over $350 in supplies, training, and income,” Jaffee said.

Balyolu kicks off with four tours this summer:

Spring Blossoms: May 19 – May 26

Anatolia Steppes: June 9 – June 16

Summer Tundra: June 30 – July 7

Mountain Meadows: July 26 – August 2

Get the scoop on founder Jaffee, the Balyolu team’s recent achievements and the “five-sense experience” here: and

Friday, February 17, 2012

Balyolu Launches First Honey Tasting Walking Tours in Rural Turkey

Thursday, 16 February 2012 16:48

Balyolu (pronounced "Ball-yole-ew"), is the first honey tasting walking journey of its kind.

balyoluThis journey is a seven-day trip in Northeastern Turkey that is led and inspired by local women who are training to become world-class beekeepers & rural entrepreneurs.

The purpose of the trip is to explore the unique tastes and diversity of Turkish honey, the ancient nomadic travel routes of Northeastern Turkey, and the artisan culture of rural communities in the region. Tickets and limited edition products from the program are currently on-sale on Kickstarter:

Cat Jaffee, a Colorado native, Fulbright Scholar, and program Founder thought of the initial idea while researching rural migration in Turkey, 2008-2010. In 2011, Cat moved back to Turkey to live with nomadic beekeepers in Turkey’s Northeast and band birds with local non-profit KuzeyDoga. After joining the first EU supported women’s organic beekeeping course in the Kars region, Cat wanted to start a honey tasting tour program to support local women trying to produce high-end organic honey. Proceeds from the program will go towards marketing trainings, organic beekeeping workshops, and rural business incubation in local communities. Cat is joined by a global team of entrepreneurs who together are starting Balyolu – Burcu Uzer, Deniz Duygu, Sertac Turhal, and Alex Barberis.

Due to the historical importance of Ani, the old Armenia capital that is prominent in the region as a formerly substantial trade hub (one that rivalled Istanbul, Cairo, and Baghdad 900 years ago), and the ancient seasonal migration patterns of the local people, old roads and walking routes are common across the region. In an effort to build something truly environmental and unique, the Balyolu trips walk these ancient roads from village to village, while tasting honey, sampling local food, learning about local birds and animals from non-profit KuzeyDoga, and exploring one of Turkey’s wild frontiers.
“We believe tourism should be harnessed for social good,” explains founder Cat Jaffee. For Balyolu, it's adventure at its sweetest!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

some photos of interesting beehives in Bali, permaculture center

BEE the Change: Beekeeping workshops in Bali!

BEE the change!
by Robin Dua

Start the Balinese new year with a buzz and do something positive for the island's farmers, market gardeners and fruitgrowers by taking part in Yayasan Tri Hita Karana Bali's first ever beekeeping workshop.

On March 24-25 - straight after Nyepi - you can learn how to get started in beekeeping from one of Indonesia's best beekeepers - Bali's own I Gede Panca.

With a lifelong involvement in beekeeping, Pak Panca is not only an expert but a passionate advocate for the island's wild bee population. He was the inaugural winner of Indonesia's best beekeeping title in 1998.

The bilingual weekend workshop, designed fornovice beekeepers who want to start a colony of their own, will be held in THK Bali's new learning centre at the yayasan's headquarters in Pengosekan justoutside Ubud.

Using permaculture principles, the yayasan educates, advocates and acts for more environmentally and economically sustainable practices in all fields of human activity in Bali.

It's chosen "BEE the change" as the theme for the workshop in a playful spin on the famous Gandhi quote "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Yayasan founder Chakra Widia says that beekeeping is a way to make a positive contribution to preserving the island's unique ecosystem, as well as helping those who grow vegetables, fruit or flowers here.

"Bees are one of nature's most productive pollinators and can have a dramatic beneficial effect on yields in terms ofseed yield and fruit yield in many crops," he says.

"And best of all you get the honey! In fact, we'd say beekeeping is a honey of a hobby."

"Nevertheless, beekeeping is not something you do on a whim. It's a responsibility and to undertake it, you need to have a basic understanding of bees, especially the wild bees we have here in Bali."

During the workshop, participants will learn about Bali's native bees, as well as an aggressive new kid on the block that may ultimately upset the island's bee biodiversity.

Participants will also learn about flowers and their influence on the taste of honey, with plenty of honey-tasting to sweeten the session.

Then it will be down to business. A modest bee box best suited to house the island's native bees will be constructed and can be taken home afterward or donated to THK Bali for use on its new permaculturedemonstration farm in Pengosekan.

While much of the workshop will take place in the yayasan's learning centre - constructed from bamboo in a light and airy design - there will be a field trip to explore a bee colony that has inhabited a neighbour's family temple, quite a common occurence in Bali.

Pak Panca will show participants how to locate the queen in the colony and move the bees from the temple into a bee box.

Where to place bee boxes to attract bees, moving the bees to new food sources, and identifying and dealing with predators are other features of the course.

And of course there's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow - the honey. Pak Panca will demonstrate how to harvest honey and how much to take from a colony so thatenough food remains to sustain the bees and their lavae.

He'll alsodemonstrate his beesting "treatment" to reduce the risk of blood clots.

Assisting Pak Panca will be THK's medicinal herb expert, Pak Tri, who will lead a workshop session on the medicinal qualities of honey and the importance of pollination for medicinal herbs.

Those attending can order bees, honey, or extra boxes from Pak Panca, as well as medicinal herbs from Pak Tri.

There will be an overview of the world's vanishing bee population and Bali's situation in that context.

Pak Chakra hopes that the workshop will be aspringboard for helping to expand the knowledge base of bees and beekeeping in Bali and provide a network of sentinels to warn of any changes in the island's bee population.

"We hope we can foster the establishment of an umbrella organisation of Bali beekeepers to work in cooperation with local beekeepers to ensure that our island's native bee colonies continue to flourish," he says.

Visiting beekeeper Steve Black from the Isle of Man, between England and Ireland, says ongoing support for novice beekeepers is vital and endorsed the formation of a group that meets regularly to continue the learning process.

"Nobody can hope to learn all that there is to know about beekeeping in a weekend workshop," he says. "When situations arise with your bees, it's important to be able to network with other more experienced beekeepers for advice."

Pak Panca has founded three local beekeepingorganisations in Payangan, Tegallalang and Petak and they meet together twice a year.

The cost of the workshop for expats and tourists is Rp500,000 or Rp250,000 per day and, as is traditionally the case with THK Bali workshops, these fees will subsidise the participation of locals. Locals wanting to take part should contact Pak Chakra on 081 338 794 571.

Participants should bring their own lunch or, for Rp15,000 each day, they can have lunch provided. They should also bring a hat, sunscreen and, if they are allergic to beestings, they should bring an EpiPen.

Already there are bookings from as far away as Lombok. Places are limited and bookings close on Monday March 19 to give THK time to prepare the materials required for the workshop.

You can book by emailing or by calling 087 861 463 406. Payment in advance would be appreciated.

Tri Hita Karana Bali Foundation
+6287 861 463 406

Twitter: @KeepBaliGreen

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bulgarians Pray for Honey, Health of Bees

BLAGOEVGRAD, Bulgaria February 10, 2012 (AP)

Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria on Friday observed a holiday traditionally associated here with bees and honey.

It was the Day of St. Haralambos, a patron saint of beekeepers, who also is known as "the lord of all illnesses." Believers pray to him to protect their home and health.

Hundreds came to the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin church to observe the holiday, and many prayed for an end to the freezing weather that has threatened honey bees and farm output in this Balkan country of 7.4 million, where some 80 percent of the people are Orthodox Christians.

Beekeepers were among those who joined in a holy Mass for "the sanctification of honey."

The worshippers also placed small jars holding honey and lit candles on the floor of the church to form a large cross. A priest consecrated the honey, which people here say has healing properties.

Honey bees across the world have been declining in population from various causes. In Bulgaria, beekepers expect a heavy bee die-off this winter due to the severe frost.