What would it look like to see the sacred in the most mundane of tasks? What would it mean to find life in the dark places and find breath in the sound of nothing? How much life could be inspired within us and those around us if we practiced the lost art of mindfulness and began to appreciate the simple in the complex? What if life was more about preparing our hearts for something small rather than striving for something big? What are the daily tasks that make you feel alive, human and purposeful?
These are questions that inspire our keeping of bees. Beekeeping is not just the act of having bees, but is literally the practice of getting them to stay where they are. Bees at their core are programmed to keep moving. They work hard, store up, live, prepare for the future, and if they don’t die too soon, they will run away (called swarming). Bees always want to swarm, but if one can keep them happy, satisfied and comfortable, they will stay. They will be kept, and to be kept is to be taken care of in fullness. Beekeeping is not a spectator hobby, but is one of connection, awareness and devotion. As people, I believe we all want to be kept but have this innate instinct to always swarm. We work hard, store up, prepare for the future and if we don’t die in the process, we keep swarming. We keep swarming until we are metaphorically “kept” or find that connection that sedates our swarming mentality.
The world's early beekeepers were priests, shamans and pastors. Monasteries used beehives to grow their monks, priests used beehives to learn about the people they served, and shamans used bees to learn the world around them. In all three camps, the idea behind beekeeping was simply, “If you can keep bees from swarming, you can keep the human heart from running away.” This was an internal philosophy as much as it was external.
My family and I keep bees for much of the same reason but with an added component of family responsibility. The name Illuman comes from the word “Illumination,” but we changed the spelling to focus more on the individual who is illuminated: Illu-man, rather than the simple idea of a space being illuminated. The practice of keeping bees has brought light, journey and adventure into our family; all of which we love sharing with others. The word “Apiary” means “bee yard.” Put the two together and what we have is “a collection of bees that brings internal illumination by the simple act of keeping them.” Welcome to Illuman Apiary.