4″ h x 2.75″ w
As a commitment to the conservation efforts in regard to the honeybee, Alleman Studios will designate a portion of the profits from its sales of Nature’s Bounty to benefit various non-profit organizations fighting to bring awareness, research, and sustainable solutions to our world regarding the honeybee and other valuable pollinators.
Sixty-nine hundred lenses in the eye
gifting you with profound vision
Mysterious waggle dancing-
your wondrous path of communication
Flying with remarkable tenacity
allowing you to travel miles each day
Pollinating thousands of plants
as you feed us and you at once
Miracle of tiny, vibrant wings
mirroring deep, authentic community
Tirelessly and potently foraging
Wisely teaching, learning, sharing
Organizing thousands of brothers and sisters
in absolute harmony and generosity
Focusing solely on pure nourishment and vitality
to each in your colony – and beyond
Magically, tenaciously creating
perfectly aligned, sweet, dripping cells
of utter bounty, harmony and nourishment
Completing your efforts to purely feed
Visiting the richly filled
blushing, white clover
You are naturally fed
and empowered to feed in turn
Daily flights with the radiant sun
Diligence home and away
Unwavering discernment dancing through your
Yet, we rarely greet you
lest praise or honor you
denying our oneness with you
Yet you continue
to truly celebrate the mystery of nature
nourishing us, despite our sleepiness
through your sweet and vibrant bounty
May we share your tiny, powerful wings
of tenacity and purity
Awaken to your strength and integrity
while recognizing your gift anew
May we awaken and hear your plea
with ears to match your eyes
before you completely disappear
surrendering us to utter hunger
Awaken and reply
to the tender, loving bid
of Nature’s Bounty we defy
Nature’s Bounty Inspiration
(Common White Clover Vessel)
My intention when sculpting Nature’s Bounty, with twenty-five blooms of white clover, was directed foremost toward honoring the honeybee. The white clover is indeed a favorite and a readily available (when we allow it to grow) source of excellent nectar and pollen for the honeybee. Who of us has not, as a child, searched countless hours for that rare four-leaf clover to treasure? (You can find one on Nature’s Bounty!) As children we were yet to realize this vital plant was considered by many in the adult world to be a persistent weed. What is a weed, I pondered as I sculpted? According to dictionary.com, a weed is: “a valueless plant growing wild, especially one that grows on cultivated ground to the exclusion or injury of the desired crop; any undesirable or troublesome plant, especially one that grows profusely where it is not wanted.” The key words for me were valueless and growing where not wanted. The white clover is anything but a valueless plant; but often we seem to prefer the appearance of an artificially evenly green lawn. We forget to reflect on the value of what we are seeing and neglect recognition of all that may well be happening behind our limited vision in an ordinary moment. The clover does not interfere with the growing of grass; it is more often simply not wanted for its interruption of the visual green carpet.
The common three-leaf foliage of the white clover holds significance for me. The three of its foliage is symbolic of a life pattern in balance. Three represents, through various traditions, divine power: beginning, middle, end; birth, life, death; father, mother, child; and the trinity of Christian tradition in Father, Son and Holy Ghost. “Legend (dating to 1726, according to the OED) also credits St. Patrick with teaching the Irish about the doctrine of the Holy Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a three-leafed plant, using it to illustrate the Christian teaching of ‘three divine persons in the one God.' For this reason, shamrocks have definitely become a central symbol for St Patrick’s Day. Nevertheless, the shamrock was also seen as sacred in the pre-Christian days in Ireland. Due to its green color and overall shape, many viewed it as representing rebirth and eternal life. Three was a sacred number in the pagan religion and there were a number of “Triple Goddesses” in ancient Ireland, including Brigid, Ériu, and the Morrigan.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick). The uncommon four-leaf clover is considered to bring great luck. Commercially produced today (via genetic engineering) they are easily purchased particularly around St. Patrick’s Day. Yet, four –leaf clovers do indeed grow naturally on the white clover plant; it is estimated that for approximately every 10,000 three-leaf clovers one with four leaves will appear.
The smaller white clover plants represent likely the most important honey producing crop in the United States and an abundant source of pollen for bees. The most important pollinator of the white clover is the honeybee. The world’s honeybee population has been in an alarming decline for the past decade; and continues to decline today. In the mid 2000’s a virus threatened the vibrancy of the life of the honeybee; and today Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) presents the greatest challenge yet with its unique set of lethal symptoms. I hold a very deep and growing concern regarding the alarming rate of the honeybees continual disappearance (along with other bees and insects); and the yet inconclusive –or at least ineffective – results of the massive research completed surrounding CCD. One author, Michael Schacker, in A Spring Without Bees (2008), suggests we have the answers, for the most part, to their disappearance yet we have been unable, as a society, to accept the evidence which would strongly indicate a critical need to change many of our ways of living. Schacker believes a major culprit to be our increased use of pesticides and our ever-increasing potency of them. His book presents an absolutely alarming, and very well documented collection of the history of their disappearance along with the research efforts and results. He also highlights the role of the EPA and its regulations and practices; as well as the role of major manufacturing companies of the many pesticides we use so freely today. It is clearly a book worthy of one’s time and deepest reflection.
The honeybee pollinates about one third of the food we eat today – including fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Without these foods, our dietary intake would need to change dramatically leaving grave deficiencies. The honeybee truly feeds us through its relentless work as an amazingly intelligent and organized colony. I hope we are, collectively, able to wake up to the alarming cry of the honeybee and see in its disappearance the grandest of requests for us to re-evaluate, with very new eyes, our way of tending our natural world and our changing farming practices. I believe we can truly no longer afford to make decisions based primarily upon financial gain or ease of labor over the value of a healthy source of nutrition and a balanced, non-toxic and sustainable ecosystem.
The honeybee builds combs that are flat, vertical panels of highly uniform six-sided (hexagonal) cells. Six, is the number of absolute harmony. I reflected upon the wonderful mystery of how these seemingly tiny insects hold the intellect to build such precise cells in absolute uniformity and in the form of perfect harmony. This felt to me to be an immense and wondrous gift and inspiration. They clearly point the way toward building harmony – collectively.
The foraging bees return to the hive once finding an excellent source of pollen and nectar. Using the amazing and intricate waggle dance, they share the precise location of this excellent source with the other bees in the hive. I pondered how different our communities might look if we too were to be inspired to share our greatest treasures, as we discover them, with all others in our communities that we might work together to best feed ourselves and nurture others? The honey bees’ sense of authentic partnership and community is richly inspiring. They simply trust the pure nature of sharing in the richest sense of community.
Symbolically, the bee is noted in many traditions as carrying a heavenly import. J.C. Cooper, in the Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols (1978) suggests: “Bees often represent the stars and are also winged messengers carrying news to the spirit world; telling the bees of a death or important event, is to send a message to the next world or the spirits.” Could the bees be communicating with the heavens – the spirit world, indicating we are perhaps well out of balance in our care of the natural world? In the Christian context, the bee hive is symbolic of the church – and in our world today, is the traditional church collapsing in many ways right along with the hives? Have we been blinded to seeing with clear vision the vital essence of both? The Celtics propose the bee represents secret wisdom coming from the other world. Could we perhaps learn much from their habits (secret wisdom) of highly organized partnership, harmony and communication?
Jack Tresidder, in his book 1001 Symbols; suggests that few if any creatures have symbolized more ethical virtues than the bee. “Apart from being associated with many divinities, its industrious habits and social organization were a gift to the writers of homilies. The Christian monastic community was equated with a beehive. ….The 12th century mystic Bernard of Clairvaux likened the bee to the Holy Spirit.”
Nature’s Bounty is presented with the hope that it will stir, alongside the deep beauty it holds, a highly energetic nudge for each of us to truly consider with new awareness, the manner in which we are engaging with nature – and particularly in regard to the vanishing honeybee. There are many avenues each of us may choose to participate in creating a harmonious balance that will serve and sustain the natural world and ourselves at once (see attached: What You Can Do). We are the stewards of this world – the honeybee is signaling to us for our deeply renewed attention – we are moving away from the balance of intended goodness and nourishment.
The edition size chosen for Nature’s Bounty is numbered while unlimited – reflecting a hope for an unlimited and infinite appreciation and honor of the honeybee and its gifts to us. The companion poetry contains twelve stanzas – an elder or tribal number to me. The textured element on the lowest part of the vessel was created using actual honey-comb taken from one of the hives currently residing on the farm where Carol was raised. This lowest portion of the vessel is its “foundation” – perhaps a mirror of the potent seeds planted in her during her early years. We are called, I believe, to act in ways that will empower our entire tribe – our entire global community. There is only one very, very small honeybee on the vessel – easy to miss without careful observation – mirroring how very easy it is to miss the current status of the honeybee and how easy it is to miss noticing the honeybee with any level of appreciation or attention.
The delicately winged, tireless, golden honeybee is calling to us in a profound manner. This tiny, wondrous insect, with its 6900 lenses in its eye to SEE so clearly, with its character of being a member of one of the most highly organized and complex societies in the animal kingdom is taking flight – perhaps soon never to return. May we take flight with them in bringing practices of life sustaining harmony and authentic community into our lives; and may we truly awaken and be tenderly reminded to live in manners which will ultimately be embracing and sustaining for Nature’s Bounty.
White Clover Facts
The calyx is only 3mm long, allowing nectar to be quite easily extracted by nectar-loving bees. The smaller white clover plants represent likely the most important honey producing crop in the United States and an abundant source of pollen for bees. The most important pollinator of the white clover is the honeybee. “Florets that are not visited by bees will stay open and fresh looking for a week or longer, but when they are pollinated they will wilt within a few hours (weaver 1857). The grower can determine the degree of white clover pollination by examining the flower head. When the pollination is progressing satisfactorily, the head will have wilted florets at the base [hanging downward], buds toward the apex, and no more than a dozen fresh open florets in between.” http://www.beeculture.com/content/pollination_handbook/white.html Stems are low growing, rooting at the nodes. The flowers grow from a separate stem and appear slightly above the foliage. Often, though not always, the leaves present with a light green to white “v” shape – resembling a circular/triangular form when viewed on all three leaves at once. They bloom white to pinkish white clusters of ball-shaped flowers, on naked stalks, with spent petals dropping below the bloom and hanging in light brown color. Typical height is 4 – 6” tall. They are attended by bumblebees, honeybees, mason bees, Cuckoo bees, white butterflies, and caterpillars. White clover grazing is appreciated by deer, sheep, cattle and horses. The foliage holds typically leaflets in groups of three, though they will much less frequently grow presenting the cherished 4 leaf clover on a single stalk. It is often considered a weed in North America despite its vital source of pollen and nectar for the bees.
Honey Bee Facts
It takes nectar from 10 million flowers to create a single liter of honey.
- There are, on average, 50,000 bees in a typical hive.
- Bees are one of the most highly organized and complex societies in the animal kingdom.
- The combs (honeycomb cells) are built in exact hexagonal format.
- When foraging, as honeybees find an excellent source of nectar and pollen, they communicate the precise location of the source through a highly sophisticated dance called the waggle dance.
- Bees will travel as many as three miles away from the hive to locate a good source of nectar and pollen.
- Only female bees leave the hive to forage.
- It is most highly suggested from current research that the critical state of the honeybee is caused by a combination of stress, virus, and pesticide use. The use of mono-agriculture may also be a contributing factor severely limiting the variety of sources of pollen and nectar available for foraging.
- Honeybees are covered with short, dense hair and have a gold/brown and black striped abdomen.
- Bees are excellent at locating the sweetest nectar source in an area – and often this comes from weeds.
- The honeybee uses pollen, as well as, honey for food.
- Beeswax is secreted by the glands of the bee and used to build the combs.
- Honeybees are European in origin.
- Honeybees survive the winter cold by clustering together and maintaining about 93 degrees (Fahrenheit) in the center of the hive cluster.
Excerpts (condensed) from: Nature video: Silence of the Bees (2007) DVD
By 2035 honeybees will not exist if they continue to decline as in recent years. Three quarters of all plants depend on animal pollination. One hundred of our most important crops depend on the honeybee for pollination at an estimated value of 15 billion dollars. More than thirty percent of our food crops are honeybee pollinated including fruits, vegetables, nuts and cotton.
In Southern Sichuan Province, China in the early 1980’s pesticides killed off the bees. They now use humans to pollinate the immense pear orchards – an immensely labor intensive process.
In 2006 millions of bees disappeared showing new symptoms unlike those of the 1980’s when a mite was found responsible for a deadly loss. The new and current disappearance of the honeybee is called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The bees simply go out to forage and never return. Speculation continues to be researched regarding whether these bees are affected by toxins causing memory loss, impairment of their fragile immune system, a virus or a combination of all of these.
When the bees are three weeks old they become foragers and fly up to three miles in search for pollen and nectar. Once they find an excellent source, they return to the hive and using the “waggle dance” they indicate the precise location of the source – waggling and turning to allow for precise directions for others to find the source. This dance is one of the seven wonders of the animal behavior world.
There is one queen bee per hive – she is larger than the other bees, and her purpose is to lay eggs – as many as more than 1500 per day – she lives approximately 2-8 years.
Drones – these are the male bees, they have no stinger. They live only 8 weeks with a purpose of mating a new queen. Its eyes are larger than those of the other bees. They perform a mid-air wedding flight.
Workers – these are all female bees and they essentially do all the work. When young they work in the hive itself, cleaning, building, protecting, and later they forage to gather the nectar, water, pollen and resin. They live about six weeks – or until spring time if they are born in the autumn.
Excellent Resources: Bees – Tales from the Hive; Nova; WGBH Boston; 2007 DVD The Silence of the Bees; Nature; WNET NY; 2007 DVD A Spring Without Bees; How Colony Collapse Disorder has Endangered Our Food; Supply Michael Schacker; 2008 Catch the Buzz; http://home.ezezine.com/1636/1636-2012.01.18.21.28.archive.html
What You Can Do
There are numerous websites detailing the characteristics of the many wonderful bee loving plants – plant a bee inviting garden. A partial list of bee-loving plants includes: All fruit trees, almond trees, berry bushes, dandelion, fireweed, all clovers, heather, thyme, lavender, sage, Black Locust and Linden Trees, poppy, sunflowers, asters, mint, tulips, willow….and many, many more. A quick search on the internet will give you a wide variety to choose from for your geographic location and special needs.
Resist the urge to use toxic pesticides. Instead, research the problem you are attempting to eradicate with a pesticide and choose one of the many toxic-free approaches. A simple search of “non-toxic garden pest control” will present a long list of references for you to consider. Often careful planning of where to plant specific plants, and planting with particular companion plants will eliminate many of the seemingly uncontrollable pests. It takes a little time to research, but much less time than it will take to re-build the natural harmony and balance we are destroying in our soils. Major home and garden stores also stock non-toxic weed/pest control products – it may take more than one application but it is indeed non-toxic , organic and effective. Interestingly enough, however, often one must frequently ask where these products are located in the store as the major stores will present the toxic ones in great abundance – most often in major aisles and end caps – while one must typically ask for assistance to find the non-toxic choices available.
Encourage your friends and farmers to avoid using unnecessary pesticides – especially during prime bee foraging seasons.
Be willing to eat locally grown, preferably organic foods that may not “look perfect” as much as possible. Even if you make this intentional choice only several times a week – that’s a starting point and much better than not considering it at all. A few brown spots here or there, or a portion of a leaf nibbled by a garden visitor should actually make you feel better about eating that food – it’s likely not been overly coated with toxic pesticides, allowing you to gain much healthier nutrition.
There are several toxin free products commercially available for weed control. Before using any of them, inquire within yourself if what are attempting to rid is truly a “weed” or simply unsightly to you? Hand weeding, when possible, is always good exercise and it keeps us beautifully connected with the earth.
Allow the white clover to grow freely in your lawn; and allow it to grow tall enough to bloom freely for the bees. Cutting lawns too short will inhibit their natural bloom. Consider thinking of it as a natural beauty and not a weed – it holds vast value to the honeybee (which, in essence, is to you).
Notice the honeybee when you see one and notice it with a sense of appreciation and gratitude. If you are allergic to them (as I am) simply keep your distance and allow them to roam and forage freely. If not disturbed, they will not sting.
Read, watch videos, browse the internet and educate yourself about the status of the honeybee and especially Colony Collapse Disorder and how it is affecting not only the honeybee but other bees and insects. Taking even one new, small step in awareness and appreciation with regard to honoring the honeybee is a valuable and beautiful choice. It is a choice that will influence our future and our planet profoundly.