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A honey bee manifesto

Editor’s Note: On Friday evening just before twilight, on the eve of National Honey Bee Day, I received a surprise visit from one of the queen’s court. She begged I pay attention and take notes. When satisfied I was rapt, she danced the following manifesto.

According to her wishes, I typed the transcript into American English to the best of my ability and scheduled its posting for 12:01 a.m. EDT.

She was quite clear in her presentation, although I could sense her impatience with my plodding translation and my requests that she repeat this phrase or that. Once done, we shared some tea and honey before she slipped into the gloaming.

I have done my best to put her thoughts into print. Any errors in translation are mine, and mine alone.


Greetings to all who be fair. Since time immemorial, I have served mankind as a pollinator of plants and a producer of propolis, wax, royal jelly, and honey. In turn, you have protected me from skunks, wasps, bears, and hornets. You have fed me when flowers were scarce, watered me when seasons were dry. It hasn’t always been peaceable, but the truce has worked as long as you respected my rights and taken not more than your share.

I serve as long as I am healthy and comfortable. I thrive when you treat me not as your servant, but as your friend. If you become a keeper of my kind, remember that keeping entails responsibility. If you want me to live in a place of your choosing, at a time of your choosing, in a hive of your choosing, you must care for me.

The “live and let die” philosophy—you live and let me die—is not beekeeping; it is bee abuse. A decision to keep me is a burden you choose, an albatross you carry. If you will not care for me, if my presence is troublesome, you must let me go free.

Don’t confuse your interests with mine. What you want and what I want are not the same. You must separate the two and compromise, as must I. For you it is sweetness and light, money for the till, pollination of your crops. For me, it is the survival of my sisters, my colony, my species.

Like you, I am a living, breathing animal. I feel hunger, thirst, and pain. I have good days and bad; my strength ebbs and flows. I have a right to abundant flowers. I have a right to unlimited water. I have a right to air free of contaminants. I have a right to quietude, peace, and respect.

I realize that all humans do not think alike, nevertheless, each beekeeper must plot a course and follow it. Just like each of you raises your children differently—cultures, values, religions, diets—you will keep bees differently. Although I accept those differences and do not require you to choose one regimen over the other, you must have a plan. You must be informed and empathetic. In short, you must care.

Do not keep me if you are in love only with the idea of it. Do not keep me because it makes you look cool or because you want to call yourself a beekeeper. Keep me because you love me and because you care about my health, my environment, and my future. Do not put me where I am too hot, too cold, too dry, or too wet. Do not ignore me when I am sick. Do not abandon me when I become inconvenient.

To care for me you must care about the planet. To insist the earth is not warmer, though warmer it is; to pretend the summers are not dryer though dryer they are; to proclaim the crops are not toxic, though toxic they’ve become is to ignore reality. But you can fool only yourself. You cannot fool me. No, you cannot fool the honey bee.

Discrimination must end. You humans know, after all, that you cannot restrict a race of your own kind to the back of the bus, to an internment camp, to a reservation. Likewise, you cannot legislate my environment away. You cannot decide your fancy cities, gated communities, or expensive subdivisions are too good for my kind. You cannot lock me out because I may, for short times, become a nuisance.

Genocide must end. Spraying my home, my food, my water, my air with weapons of mass insect destruction only proves that humans are arrogant—unaware that they, too, are part of life’s interdependency. A human who believes he does not need a bee is destined for the Darwin award.

Pollution must end. Climate change must end. Fragmentation of the landscape must end. To be a keeper of my kind is to be a steward of the natural world, for I am nothing without the meadows; I am nothing without the deserts and woodlands; I am nothing without the prairies, hedgerows and swamps. I am nothing without flowers, and nothing without trees. But I am not nothing.

No, I am far from nothing. I provide you with food and fiber and fuel. I provide you with beauty and beef and butter. I provide you with spice and squash, cotton and cucumbers. As long as you care for me and my environment, I will continue to pollinate your world in exchange for mere nips of nectar and a pittance of pollen. But if you are unwilling to compromise; if you are unwilling to provide for me as I provide for you, then I can make no promises. Remember, my kind can live without yours, but can you say the same?

I ask you on this National Honey Bee Day to think about me, to think about you, and decide how we can work together for a better, cleaner, happier world.

Yours from the hive,

Honey B.


  • Thank you, Rusty. This is lovely. And a useful litmus test for sorting out the beekeepers I admire from the ones that make me sad. Inspirational words for all…

    Happy Honey Bee Day to your and your bees.

  • I work with the elemental kingdom. Whether you consciously transcribed this or not, the elementals were talking to you through the bee, through your consciousness. Man has forgotten their heritage; they are Sons and Daughters of God – here to manifest the perfection of Light, thought-forms becoming physically manifest; we are here to become masters of energy and creation. There are great Beings who are in charge of the Kingdoms of Nature; in all its myriad of form – they are called the Hierarchs of the Elementals and the Builders of Form are the Elohim. Because mankind has refused to acknowledge that Nature is sentient and because mankind has abdicated their responsibility there is much returning karma acting as cataclysms; hurricanes; tornados. Drought is a reflection of the barren-ness of the hearts and minds of mankind.

    Thank you for being a Chalice of Love – bringing forth this missive is truly a gift for mankind. It is not necessary that each and every one read it. By putting it down on paper so to speak; you have anchored that information here in the physical – and it goes out on the ethers to all minds and hearts – they receive it and it takes seed. The elementals here it on the ethers and rejoice. One more person in tune with the Music of the Spheres, they are grateful.

  • You have become a mystery to me and I have a feeling that’s how you like it. I know we live mere miles apart here on the peninsula.

    This post makes me want to track you down and HUG YOU!

    Thanks so much for this wonderful site.


  • Eloquent and touching. Thanks for translating, Rusty.

    Shady Grove Farm
    Corinth, Kentucky

    “The miracle is not walking on water. The miracle is walking on the green Earth.”
    – Thich Nhat Hanh

  • Dear Rusty,
    May I translate your honey bee’s manifest for the bee keepers here in The Netherlands. I thought it was very well interpreted on your part from what the dancing bee communicated to you. My husband thougt it was put forward very much from a womans point of view and possibly will receive negative attention from the men. I am rather curious to find out if he has a point. I don’t agree with him other than it is often the women who are more aware of this Earth earlier than the men. Thank you for sharing with us.

  • Very well done! Many thanks Rusty for translation. May I ask you a favor – could I copy your translation on my Facebook page (with proper reference) for my friends? Your WEB-site is great!

    • Hi Sergey,

      Thank you for the compliment! Yes, by all means, put the honey bee’s message on your Facebook page.

  • Hey Rusty,

    This is so beautifully written, as are all of your postings. You are indeed gifted in that area. You are my primary source for beekeeping methods and I eagerly check my email for notice of a posting. However, I think the “climate change” references are totally unsubstantiated. I believe that climate change is a normal swing back and forth from cooling to warming and back again. That is part of the reason the movement had to be changed from “global warming” to “climate change”, because we stopped warming in the 1990s.

    I think it is wise to be friendly to the environment, to recycle, to equip cars and manufacturing plants with pollution controls and to be good stewards of our natural resources and for the most part we do those things. But for people to think that we can manipulate the climate is scary. What are we to do, stop up the volcanoes or put corks up the cows’ butts? There are things in this world we just have to deal with. I love bees because of the amazing way God pays attention to every detail of creation. And I would keep them just to enjoy observing and learning and hopefully being a help to them. I believe insecticides are a problem and hope that the scientists investigating CCD will find something concrete that we can do to prevent this phenomenon from continuing. In the meantime, I will enjoy my bees in the coolest, rainiest summer I can remember in NC. Just planted some buckwheat recently and its popping up like crazy. The girls are going to love me in a few weeks. 🙂

    • Thank you for the compliment, Dennis. I knew there would be disagreement when I mentioned climate change because there always is. But when I look at the numbers–carbon emissions, sea level raise, increasing intensity of weather events–it is staggering. Yes, there are natural fluctuations to these cycles, but mankind has put this cycle on the fast track.

      There is no point in arguing with folks who don’t believe it’s real, so I don’t. But I believe it is true, and I believe it will, unfortunately, soon become self-evident.

  • Reading this makes me examine my own reasons for wanting to keep bees. I live in the flat neighborhoods of Oakland, CA. No open wild un-urbanized area for miles, but plenty of backyards. And yes, a few hives kept by locals. I’ll admit I fell in love with the idea of keeping bees; it sounded cool, and I thought “what better way to help urban greenery, flowers, etc.?” So to that end I’ve been voraciously reading and trying to learn.

    I missed this year and was planning on the next, but still… I’m still not sure where on my property I could find a home for a hive, and now, reading the Honey Bee Manifesto, I’m wondering if I’m even thinking along the right lines? I’ve read a few recent article that say basically with the surge in ‘hipster urban beekeeping’ that if you *really* want to help, instead of attempting to keep bees, have a yard and a garden that’s bee friendly. Plant flowers that will attract bees, and in that way support local hives kept by bearded hipsters and wild hives alike. I’m rambling, but I’m also re-thinking some things.

    • Chris,

      I appreciate the honesty of your remarks. It’s funny, I have lots of rural space, so that’s not an issue. But sometimes I wonder how long I will stay in beekeeping. There are certain aspects I hate—dealing with mites and moths and nosema—that kind of thing. It can be very frustrating. If it wasn’t for this website, I may have stopped by now. I’ve turned much of my attention to native bees and I find them even more fascinating than honey bees in many ways. But people want to know about honey bees and I try to help them sort through all the misinformation and myth that is floating around. So I don’t know what’s next for me, as far as honey bees go. Day by day . . .

      • Most or all of the problems that people who keep bees encounter can be solved by trying a different kind of hive. Take a look at These hives, an expansion in consciousness, if you will, of a top bar hive; were created to give the bees a more friendly and loving atmosphere as well as for the bee guardian. I won’t go into all the aspects of this new kind of hive, but it will almost eliminate, or eliminate entirely CCD.

        For people who are willing to let nature take the lead, it is entirely possible never again to have to use a suit or a smoker. Also, I would recommend reading some of Fukuoka’s books about understanding nature—truly understanding it, and becoming one with it. If you are separate from nature, nothing one ever tries that involves nature (gardening, farming, bees) is ever going to be successful. If you see things as separate, i.e. the leaf of a tree as being separate from the tree, everything will remain separate and will never flow in a harmonious activity. Even from a purely physical aspect, you will never be lifting heavy hives again. Namaste.

  • Magnificent tuning fork – a thural resonating reminder that we are the stewards of this Earth. ‘No man is an island’, everything we do has a consequence – seen and unseen.

    I am deeply touched.
    I appreciate people who can see beyond the day to day mundane and realize we have a calling to something more important.
    I would like to print this and put as the intro for my day to day bee journal. May I?

  • Wow, well written. Thank you, thank you.
    I will be a better Bee Mom. Some days I have been scared, frustrated, nervous, challenged and sad, but mostly in awe.
    I was never one that enjoyed learning, but at 50, finding these beautiful little girls has taught me more about myself and my new life directions.

    I have made mistakes with my bees and am always seeking out knowledge, sometimes to the pesky level! I am uncertain as to the survival of one of the two hives this winter, but with my bee teacher, and your blog, I hope they will all be healthy and happy! Thanks.

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