By Paula Carnell: Creating a Buzz About Health
To wake up listening to birdsong is truly a magical experience and something that, having always lived in the countryside, I could too easily take for granted.
This year, spring seems to have come all of a sudden and surprised us all with the sunshine and the warm, sunny, longer days.
Since working with Bees, my awareness and appreciation of the natural cycle in the order of things has changed. I used to dread the long dark nights of autumn. October, November and December would be very difficult months for me. With my birthday in November, what I would do is always organise a big party; a big celebration to distract from the depression that would set in as the days grew shorter.
After spending seven long years of my forties in bed and wheelchair bound, I had to learn to appreciate the small things in life: a blue tit sitting on my bedroom window ledge; watching spiders weaving webs in the roof lantern above my bed; and watching the bees from the hive I could see through the bedroom window.
Recovery has taught me to appreciate the small things, every day, and not to take wellness or health for granted. We are all merely a breath away from disease or disability.
I’ve learned that the winter months, as for the bees, are my rest time. They are my chance for hibernation and the time for my body to heal. After a busy season with long summer days where I’m enjoying every ounce of daylight, either with work or play, I then need the long winter nights to sleep.
Back in February we suddenly had warm days which were getting longer, and I didn’t feel ready. It felt too early to be busy with Bees. They were awakening with the sunshine, and the plants were slowly awakening too, but were they quick enough for the bees? Was there enough food for them? I wondered about us: had we had enough time to rest and recuperate before another busy summer?
A bee research project found that healthy bees in a colony that is lined with propolis and filled with honey, spend the majority of their time resting.
So, when we say ‘busy as a bee’, we are not referring to them being busy all the time, but just when they need to be busy, pollinating flowers, collecting nectar or building wax comb. The rest of the time they are together in the hive doing nothing, maybe Meditating?
In contrast, an unhealthy hive which has its honey taken away and replaced with sugar syrup, (lacking the trace minerals essential for healthy life), this colony spends none of its time resting.
The bees emerge from the cocoons and begin a busy race for survival. Each of the phases of life is shortened and sped up: cleaning their cells as they emerge; nursing the new bees; and, finally, whilst still immature, they begin their foraging flights to collect nectar and pollen for the rest of the colony.
These bees, living a life shortened by almost half, are found shivering and twitching with their wings in tatters exhausted from life without rest.
This behaviour is caused by the toxins that the bees are exposed to. A cocktail of insecticides and pesticides and environmental poisons sprayed on our plants, leeched into our soil, drawn up by the flowers and given to the bees through the nectar and pollen. These toxins are then deposited in the honey or used to make the wax cells that they lay their eggs in.
Keeping their colony at a constant 35° ensures that the vapours from these toxins vaporises, allowing the bees to inhale this man-made mix of poison from the moment they emerge.
These toxic fumes affect the nervous system, preventing the bees from pausing between each nerve impulse. Each cell in their body is constantly bombarded with stimulation. Without these important pauses, the muscles are exhausted, the brain is exhausted, no organ in the body has been able to repair itself which it can only do during rest and sleep.
Could we be seeing parallels in our own lives?
What if the same poisons we use on our land and in our homes to keep us pest free, have now poisoned the water we drink and the air we breathe, and are now affecting our own nervous systems, pressurising us to work and play hard, not to rest or meditate.
We haven’t yet reached the ‘silent spring’ that biologist Rachel Carson wrote about in the 1960s. I can still hear birds and I do have bees in my garden, but there are places in the world where insects are scarce, and birds are scarcer. As we dispose of unwanted nature are we slowly disposing of ourselves?
As we have this respite from winter with bright sunshine, clear skies and dry feet, let’s use it to enjoy nature and to care for the wildlife around us, using this time to nurture ourselves and the environment we live in. Should more of winter return, let’s use that time to rest so that when we have the longer days and we need more work to be done, we have the energy reserves, and the strength to make the world a better place.
Paula’s book ‘Artist to Bees’ was published in February 2019 and is available from her website and local independent bookshops. www.paulacarnell.com
Paula Carnell was born in Dorset, England and has spent much of her adult life living in Castle Cary Somerset. Forming ‘Possi’ in 1990 as part of the Prince’s Youth Business Trust’ scheme, she soon had a successful enterprise selling her original paintings on silk, and printed greeting cards of her work in over seven hundred shops across the UK and exporting to eleven countries worldwide. Opening a gallery in Castle Cary in 1995 established her as a familiar face in the town, until she ‘retired’ from retail in 2004 and focused on her personal painting career. Exhibiting in London and the USA, Paula was fulfilling her dream as a globe travelling artist. Then in 2008, she began to fall ill, becoming bed and wheelchair bound with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome in 2009. The following seven years were spent on a personal quest to find meaning in life, transforming from an artist to a bee speaker. Achieving a full recovery in 2016, she is studying as a medical herbalist with the IRCH, runs her business ‘Creating a Buzz about Health’, working as a Global beekeeping consultant, writer and speaker. She lives in Castle Cary with her husband Greg and three sons.