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Sha-Na Dahl

Published:

Sha-Na Dahl

I live on the border of Elizaville and Red Hook, New York, nestled between trees and a stream that is a small tributary to the Hudson River. This cabin in the woods is my little oasis for now, with frequent visits from Blue Heron, deer and of course fairies.

I was an Army brat; born in Oklahoma but a year later moved back to southern California, where both my parents grew up. The Inland Empire, surrounded by mountains, desert, and orange groves is where I spent my youngest years and through high school. I am one of six children, but in the 80s it was just two other siblings and a single mother, so we moved around a lot. Even with all her struggles trying to provide for us, my mother never underestimated the importance of being in nature. The weekends were filled with many beach and camping trips almost all year round. On one of these trips, to the Sequoias when I was ten years old, I was even stung ten times at once, so maybe subconsciously I knew bees would circle back into my life somehow.

Sha-Na Dahl

After spending half my life in California, I decided I wanted a change of scenery, so I moved to Brooklyn, New York in 2010 to live a more holistic lifestyle. I was discovering ways to work with plant-based medicines and once I learned of its restorative and healing properties, I wanted to include beeswax in my herbal creations and as a base ingredient in most of my products. Back then, I was sourcing beeswax from reliable sources but I was determined to have my own hives one day. I am mostly self-taught, making creations of salves and creams by experimenting over time to get the right consistency.

Sha-Na Dahl

I have attended many beekeeping courses over the years from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to HoneyBeeLives.com in New Paltz, and continued my studies with Gunther Hauk in West Virginia, where I participated in a week-long course at Spikenard Farm Honey Bee Sanctuary. There I learned of biodynamic methods and how cosmic and planetary influences relate to everything here on earth—that is where gardening, farming, and nutrition come in and how the Honey bee is intrinsically involved.

I had the opportunity to grow and harvest herbs like tulsi, lemon balm, yarrow, chamomile, echinacea, bee balm, and anise hyssop. These herbs are not only beneficial and medicinal for the bees, but for us as well. My studies continued as I traveled to both France and England, where I have taken courses within and inspired by The Path of Pollen, a shamanic Honey bee tradition based in the British Isles, where they teach alternate methods of beekeeping and revere the Honey bee as a living symbol.

Sha-Na Dahl
Smoke acts as a doorbell for the hive.

My approach to beekeeping incorporates natural and bee-centric methods. I work with Langstroth hives, which are stacking rectangular boxes, and use foundationless frames as well as top bar horizontal hives. I am interested in our relationship to the bee; not only how we can give back to them, but what they can offer us, as more than just an agricultural factory worker, but also on a spiritual level. I am interested in working with anyone who wants to work with the hive on a symbolic level.

I keep bees because they tell me my heart, for the flowers, because I’m in love, because of magic, for the healing, for the friendship, and for the mystery.

While working in the apiary and before entering any hive, I first become aware of my own energy. If I do not come calmly, lovingly and with care, they will let me know. I listen. I tell them my heart. I use my smoker as a shamanic tool. A doorbell, to let her know I am here. I say her, because at the beginning of spring, there are no male bees (no drones), so the entire hive is of a feminine genetic makeup. The drones play a very important role as well; the whole hive is one living organism and each part is necessary, including the drones, which are considered the shamans of the hive.

Sha-Na Dahl
Igniting the smoker.

When I smoke my hives, I burn soft smoking herbs like white sage, sumac, lavender and mullein. I hum to the bees, a long particular tone. I sometimes use my drum and meditate before letting them know what my intention is for entering. When we open any hive, the bees become more vulnerable to the elements; we have to be soft and gentle, moving gracefully while tending to the sacred womb. Almost like you would a lover.

Sha-Na Dahl
Smoking the hive entrance.

Creating space for my heart and soul is what led me to the love and passion I have for the Honey bee. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

My interest in a more shamanic way with the bee emerged from a deeper search into my own soul. I have simplified my body care line over the years and, when available, carry beeswax candles, lip balms, body creams, a deodorant, and a Propolis tincture. Honey, I carry very rarely, but will offer small amounts if there is more than the bees need to survive for the winter. For my salves, I use blends that are heart opening, uplifting, restorative and energizing, such as lavender and rose essential oils.

When making salves or candles, the comb from the hive has to be rendered and a special sort of magic takes place. It’s never okay to take comb from a hive that the bees are living on. Both honey and comb are sacred, so I get my wax from either harvesting honey, fixing cross-comb, losing a hive, or taking an empty comb in the late summer, which I would do because the bees are not using it. If it’s empty and not being tended to it creates extra space in the hive that is not needed for the winter months. It also becomes susceptible to wax moths. If there are three frames with comb unattended to, I take two and store one. Having extra frames of comb is hard to come by, especially when starting a new hive in the spring. It’s nice to have starter comb to give the bees a head start in the season, as building comb is energy expensive.

Sha-Na Dahl
Lighting white sage.

Once the wax is harvested, there is a process of rendering that has to happen to remove debris or dead bee parts. Rendering involves melting the honeycomb while filtering out the debris by straining through cheesecloth and separating the beeswax out. As the beeswax starts to melt, it will form a solid layer, which, when cooled, garners filtered beeswax rendered from my very own honeycomb. After a few renders to get a smooth, debris-free piece of wax, I send gratitude and meditate on how the bees transform the light from the sun into wax, in the dark. I remind myself that when lighting beeswax candles or applying the blended cream or lip balm, that I am also freeing the light from the sun.

Honeycomb is one of the purest ingredients in nature. What makes raw honeycomb so incredible is that what you see is exactly how you would find it after the bees work their magic. The honeycomb is the honey that the bees store for them to consume over winter. The comb is their home. The honeycomb is the comb but filled with honey. I only harvest honey when I lose a hive or the bees have more than they need for the winter, which is 80-90lbs. If I have the honor of them gifting me honey, I harvest. The honey is stored in comb cells.

Sha-Na Dahl
Setting Intention before entering hive.

I remove the comb, which is composed of waxy hexagonal beeswax cells, directly from the hive. There are comb pieces filled with debris that are best rendered and used for pure beeswax, but then there are some pieces of honeycomb that are beautiful, delicate, clean, and are considered a delicacy. These pieces are often sold inside jars of natural honey or served to discerning guests on the most delicious of charcuterie boards. When you slice and eat a piece of raw honeycomb, you are literally consuming what has been created directly from the bees themselves. Breathtaking!

Sha-Na Dahl
Fresh comb removed from hive.

I don’t keep bees for their honey, I don’t keep bees based on how many hives I can have—this is the same thinking that got us into an environmental mess. When I allow myself to really watch and observe the bee I will, by nature, become more connected to the seasons, to plant life, and to all animal life.

I often think about challenges, from climate change to a very important part of the feminine that has been lost for too long. I believe this is directly connected to the loss of our pollinators. I may lose my hive for any number of reasons, from Varroa mites to fire, starvation, pesticides, unseasonable freeze, hurricane, flood, loss of habitat or disease. I may lose my hive to the climate that is changing—it is a major reality check.

When I look at the construction of the comb, smell the scent, it sometimes brings me to tears; I am in awe of its magnificence.

We have to be willing to really see what is happening to the planet and seek out new ways being OF her and FOR her. Seek ways to give back. I believe there is a loss of soul within humanity and we have reached a state in our existence where sustainability of life on this earth is more and more uncertain. We are essentially being called to radically change the ways in which we live so that all life on earth has a chance. I believe we are capable of coherence, of cooperation, and of compassion. Being part of this emergence of heart-led beekeepers is just one step in the process.

Sha-Na Dahl

I live on the border of Elizaville and Red Hook, New York, nestled between trees and a stream that is a small tributary to the Hudson River. This cabin in the woods is my little oasis for now, with frequent visits from Blue Heron, deer and of course fairies.

I was an Army brat; born in Oklahoma but a year later moved back to southern California, where both my parents grew up. The Inland Empire, surrounded by mountains, desert, and orange groves is where I spent my youngest years and through high school. I am one of six children, but in the 80s it was just two other siblings and a single mother, so we moved around a lot. Even with all her struggles trying to provide for us, my mother never underestimated the importance of being in nature. The weekends were filled with many beach and camping trips almost all year round. On one of these trips, to the Sequoias when I was ten years old, I was even stung ten times at once, so maybe subconsciously I knew bees would circle back into my life somehow.

Sha-Na Dahl

After spending half my life in California, I decided I wanted a change of scenery, so I moved to Brooklyn, New York in 2010 to live a more holistic lifestyle. I was discovering ways to work with plant-based medicines and once I learned of its restorative and healing properties, I wanted to include beeswax in my herbal creations and as a base ingredient in most of my products. Back then, I was sourcing beeswax from reliable sources but I was determined to have my own hives one day. I am mostly self-taught, making creations of salves and creams by experimenting over time to get the right consistency.

Sha-Na Dahl

I have attended many beekeeping courses over the years from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to HoneyBeeLives.com in New Paltz, and continued my studies with Gunther Hauk in West Virginia, where I participated in a week-long course at Spikenard Farm Honey Bee Sanctuary. There I learned of biodynamic methods and how cosmic and planetary influences relate to everything here on earth—that is where gardening, farming, and nutrition come in and how the Honey bee is intrinsically involved.

I had the opportunity to grow and harvest herbs like tulsi, lemon balm, yarrow, chamomile, echinacea, bee balm, and anise hyssop. These herbs are not only beneficial and medicinal for the bees, but for us as well. My studies continued as I traveled to both France and England, where I have taken courses within and inspired by The Path of Pollen, a shamanic Honey bee tradition based in the British Isles, where they teach alternate methods of beekeeping and revere the Honey bee as a living symbol.

Sha-Na Dahl
Smoke acts as a doorbell for the hive.

My approach to beekeeping incorporates natural and bee-centric methods. I work with Langstroth hives, which are stacking rectangular boxes, and use foundationless frames as well as top bar horizontal hives. I am interested in our relationship to the bee; not only how we can give back to them, but what they can offer us, as more than just an agricultural factory worker, but also on a spiritual level. I am interested in working with anyone who wants to work with the hive on a symbolic level.

I keep bees because they tell me my heart, for the flowers, because I’m in love, because of magic, for the healing, for the friendship, and for the mystery.

While working in the apiary and before entering any hive, I first become aware of my own energy. If I do not come calmly, lovingly and with care, they will let me know. I listen. I tell them my heart. I use my smoker as a shamanic tool. A doorbell, to let her know I am here. I say her, because at the beginning of spring, there are no male bees (no drones), so the entire hive is of a feminine genetic makeup. The drones play a very important role as well; the whole hive is one living organism and each part is necessary, including the drones, which are considered the shamans of the hive.

Sha-Na Dahl
Igniting the smoker.

When I smoke my hives, I burn soft smoking herbs like white sage, sumac, lavender and mullein. I hum to the bees, a long particular tone. I sometimes use my drum and meditate before letting them know what my intention is for entering. When we open any hive, the bees become more vulnerable to the elements; we have to be soft and gentle, moving gracefully while tending to the sacred womb. Almost like you would a lover.

Sha-Na Dahl
Smoking the hive entrance.

Creating space for my heart and soul is what led me to the love and passion I have for the Honey bee. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

My interest in a more shamanic way with the bee emerged from a deeper search into my own soul. I have simplified my body care line over the years and, when available, carry beeswax candles, lip balms, body creams, a deodorant, and a Propolis tincture. Honey, I carry very rarely, but will offer small amounts if there is more than the bees need to survive for the winter. For my salves, I use blends that are heart opening, uplifting, restorative and energizing, such as lavender and rose essential oils.

When making salves or candles, the comb from the hive has to be rendered and a special sort of magic takes place. It’s never okay to take comb from a hive that the bees are living on. Both honey and comb are sacred, so I get my wax from either harvesting honey, fixing cross-comb, losing a hive, or taking an empty comb in the late summer, which I would do because the bees are not using it. If it’s empty and not being tended to it creates extra space in the hive that is not needed for the winter months. It also becomes susceptible to wax moths. If there are three frames with comb unattended to, I take two and store one. Having extra frames of comb is hard to come by, especially when starting a new hive in the spring. It’s nice to have starter comb to give the bees a head start in the season, as building comb is energy expensive.

Sha-Na Dahl
Lighting white sage.

Once the wax is harvested, there is a process of rendering that has to happen to remove debris or dead bee parts. Rendering involves melting the honeycomb while filtering out the debris by straining through cheesecloth and separating the beeswax out. As the beeswax starts to melt, it will form a solid layer, which, when cooled, garners filtered beeswax rendered from my very own honeycomb. After a few renders to get a smooth, debris-free piece of wax, I send gratitude and meditate on how the bees transform the light from the sun into wax, in the dark. I remind myself that when lighting beeswax candles or applying the blended cream or lip balm, that I am also freeing the light from the sun.

Honeycomb is one of the purest ingredients in nature. What makes raw honeycomb so incredible is that what you see is exactly how you would find it after the bees work their magic. The honeycomb is the honey that the bees store for them to consume over winter. The comb is their home. The honeycomb is the comb but filled with honey. I only harvest honey when I lose a hive or the bees have more than they need for the winter, which is 80-90lbs. If I have the honor of them gifting me honey, I harvest. The honey is stored in comb cells.

Sha-Na Dahl
Setting Intention before entering hive.

I remove the comb, which is composed of waxy hexagonal beeswax cells, directly from the hive. There are comb pieces filled with debris that are best rendered and used for pure beeswax, but then there are some pieces of honeycomb that are beautiful, delicate, clean, and are considered a delicacy. These pieces are often sold inside jars of natural honey or served to discerning guests on the most delicious of charcuterie boards. When you slice and eat a piece of raw honeycomb, you are literally consuming what has been created directly from the bees themselves. Breathtaking!

Sha-Na Dahl
Fresh comb removed from hive.

I don’t keep bees for their honey, I don’t keep bees based on how many hives I can have—this is the same thinking that got us into an environmental mess. When I allow myself to really watch and observe the bee I will, by nature, become more connected to the seasons, to plant life, and to all animal life.

I often think about challenges, from climate change to a very important part of the feminine that has been lost for too long. I believe this is directly connected to the loss of our pollinators. I may lose my hive for any number of reasons, from Varroa mites to fire, starvation, pesticides, unseasonable freeze, hurricane, flood, loss of habitat or disease. I may lose my hive to the climate that is changing—it is a major reality check.

When I look at the construction of the comb, smell the scent, it sometimes brings me to tears; I am in awe of its magnificence.

We have to be willing to really see what is happening to the planet and seek out new ways being OF her and FOR her. Seek ways to give back. I believe there is a loss of soul within humanity and we have reached a state in our existence where sustainability of life on this earth is more and more uncertain. We are essentially being called to radically change the ways in which we live so that all life on earth has a chance. I believe we are capable of coherence, of cooperation, and of compassion. Being part of this emergence of heart-led beekeepers is just one step in the process.