Today, 13 February, is St. Modomnoc’s Day. You may not be Catholic (I’m not), or even particularly spiritual, but St. Modomnoc, the patron saint of bees and beekeeping, is still a role model.
If you follow the news much, especially as regards natural foods and health, you’ve probably heard about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and the disappearance and death of large numbers of bees. This is a huge, huge deal because bees pollinate most of our plant foods and medicines. Of course there are other pollinators–butterflies, bats–but many plants depend on bees for most or all of their pollination. Without them, we’ll all be eating Soylent Green. And forget about herbal medicine. Now I don’t want to get all alarmist here and kill your buzz (get it?) but with medical care increasingly inaccessible, there are ever more people who need plant medicine.
Back to St. Modomnoc. I may be biased here, but I really love the Celtic saints. (This is a great essay on what sets these saints and their works apart.) Unlike saints from other parts of the world, they show us how the everyday world around us can be miraculous. Not because God came and worked a miracle, but because the world is inherently miraculous. In his dying words to his followers, St. David said,
“Be joyful, and and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do…”
Little things? Maybe. But the magic in them is huge. Bees may be little, but their place in our life is massive, even though urban life has given many the luxury of overlooking them–and even viewing them as a nuisance. In the face of looming potential disasters like the disappearance of bees and climate change, it may seem that our actions are too little to make any difference. Maybe history will prove that to be true, but sometimes merely tweaking our tiny thread changes the pattern of the whole tapestry of life. So if you’re willing to give it a try with me, here are some things you can do to help bees:
- If you have any place for containers or a garden, plant bee-friendly flowers. Happily, most medicinal herbs with flowers are highly attractive to bees. Here’s a list of plants bees love. In my garden, Cape (a.k.a. African) daisies are very popular.
- Put some bee houses on your property. These are not hives that you open to harvest honey, but shelters for bees (including species that aren’t social like honeybees are) and their larvae. (More.) Or of course, keep a hive if you can.
- Buy local honey and bee products. A lot of people think soy wax is more sustainable than beeswax, but in fact almost all U.S. soy is genetically modified and not grown organically. Beeswax also lasts longer in candles so in most cases is more economical. Other bee products are royal jelly, bee pollen, and propolis.
- Donate to support research into bees, colony collapse, or organizations that help underprivileged communities by teaching people to keep bees. Some possibilities are: Heifer International, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, The Honeybee Conservancy, Bees Abroad, and The Foundation for the Preservation of Honeybees.
Do the little things with joy and commitment. Keep your faith (whatever it may be). And watch for miracles.