dancing bee

Let’s Dance! The Honey Bee Dance

Did you know that honey bees dance?  You won’t see them shaking their thang on the dance floor, but inside the hive, honey bees dance to share the location of a food source with other worker bees to help them identify the flower.  The dance moves, duration and number of vibrations tell the colony the exact distance to the flowers, using complex mathematics that even take into consideration the movement of the sun one degree every four minutes.

Bees also account for strong winds, dancing as if the food is further away to indicate that more energy will be expended to reach the flowers.  With their sesame seed sized brains, honey bees use vector calculus to determine the most efficient route (faster than a computer) and tell the worker bees how much honey to store for the journey.

The worker bees who collect nectar and pollen are female, and thus they are the dancers, too.  When a worker finds a suitable food source, she will return to the hive with nectar to share with the other workers.

If the food source is more than 80 meters, the worker bee will perform a “waggle” dance to communicate the direction of the flowers.  She runs directly ahead for a short distance, then returns to the starting point in a semi-circle, runs directly ahead again, then make a semi-circle in the opposite direction, thus completing a figure eight series of movements.  The waggle comes from the wagging of the abdomen from side to side, creating a vibration that appears as a tail wagging.  She moves vertically to show direction toward the sun or away from the sun and to the sides in alignment to where the sun is at the moment of the dance.  She emits a buzzing sound by the beating of her wings at a slow audio frequency, which guide in relaying the distance of the flower.  The better the food source, the more excitement and faster the dance moves. The further away the food source, the more waggles in the middle of the dance.  The bee increases the waggle part of the dance by 1 second for every km of distance.

bee waggle run

When the food source is closer, within 30 meters or so, the worker bee will perform the “circle” or “round” dance.  The round dance only tells the colony that there is a source of flowers close to the hive, not the location.  The bee walks in a circle, turns around, then walks the same circle in the opposite direction, repeating this over and over; the closer the source of food, the more cycles performed.  She may include a little waggle or generate a buzz if the flowers are exceptional quality for the hive. 

The bees do not always dance.  They assess the needs of the colony and the quality of the nectar before making the decision to put out the moves.  Many workers will dancing is a good sign of a nectar source.

A honey bee scout will waggle to tell a swarming colony about the location of a potential new home, using the same directional signs in relationship to the sun.

The dances are not consistent from one bee to another, either.  Researchers have noted that each bee has her own calibration and that the wagging dance is not always spot on, but close enough to find the food source.

What happens when honey bee really wants to get down on the dance floor and party like its 1989?  When researchers gave bees cocaine to study addiction behavior, they found that bees react much like humans do: cocaine alters their judgment, stimulates their behavior and makes them exaggeratedly enthusiastic about things that might not otherwise excite them.  The bees on cocaine “danced more frequently and more vigorously for the same quality of food,” according to Andrew B. Barron, a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in Australia and a co-leader in the bees-on-cocaine studies.  “They were about twice as likely to dance” as undrugged bees, and they circled “about 25 percent faster.”

The bees did not dance at the wrong time or place; just enthusiastic and more excited about the food they found.  That’s like “when a human takes cocaine at a low dose,” Dr. Barron said. “They find many stimuli, but particularly, rewarding stimuli, to be more rewarding than they actually are.”

Occasionally, bees are drawn to fermented substances from decaying fruits and, like humans, get so drunk that they lay on their backs with their feet kicking the air like an angry child having a temper tantrum or the best man trying to break dance at your college roommate’s wedding.  It is the drunk bee dance performed by mostly drones who have no other purpose in life than to have sex with the Queen, at which point they will die (but with a happy ending).

There is a strict conduct code in the colony.  Alcoholism would destroy the cohesion bee colonies, so the Queen assigns guards to keep the drunken drones from the hive.




passing through a waterfall

Heart of the World

“As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.”
~John Muir from Journal, 1871.

sacred waterfall harmonia transformation

Sacred Transformation


Transformation is death to an old way of life. This message is repeated to me over and over and over….

Three weeks ago, I hiked to the waterfall with my friend Terry. This is my sacred spot very few people in the history of the planet have ever seen. It is hidden around the bend of a stream, shaded by a canopy of tall trees growing on the side of a rocky mountain formed when Volcan Maderas erupted some unknown millennium ago. It is not easily accessible to most of the animals that inhabit the forest. There are not many humans who would have ever had reason to stumble upon it, either.

I still remember the feeling of clutching my hands over my heart, gasping and laughing when I realized this was part of Harmonia. Two days I ago I returned to the site, eager to show it off to my friends, but the landscape is now forever altered. It took the light from my soul for just a moment.

A large, very old hollowed out tree along the upper ridge of the gorge collapsed at the base, with the trunk now running against the rock wall and the treetop jammed into the lower pool, filling it with large branches and decaying leaves that have attracted algae as they decompose. I tried to move some of the submerged branches, but they were too large and heavy, with hundreds of smaller branches sticking out. Two weeks ago the bottom pool had a section of water 5 feet deep; now it is tangled knots of wood. The trunk blocks the rock climbing shortcut to the upper pool.

Another large tree (40’ ?) crashed from the fall. It could very well roll into lower pool as well during the next few months of rain. A third tree leans precariously over a cliff. Another single tree 20 feet from the base of the waterfall fell against the gorge last month. I have many happy never to be repeated memories of a solo male Howler monkey watching the humans from that treetop.

Oddly, a cairn (stacked rocks) I made two weeks ago still stood 12 feet away. Well, 4 of the 7 rocks were still in place in spite of the large commotion.

Looking up toward the left, there is now large patch of sunlight. I wondered how many years ago the sun splashed on the rocks and how long it will take for more trees and plants to fill in the space. As soon as that thought entered my mind, I began to landscape it in my head. There was never a space to grow flowers by the waterfall, but now I can plant hibiscus, white ginger, crepe myrtle, orchids and the tricolored purple/lilac/white Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow plant. Maybe a purple orchid tree and flaming orange malinche in the back.

My friends Jeff and Joanne suggested using the wood for benches, stairs, bridges, platforms and trails. It is inaccessible to trucks, so I cannot not sell it or use it for my buildings. I still have to wait for the rainy season to end to see what else washes away and manifest $3000 before I can begin the transformation. Until then, I am still a little sad at the thought of returning to see it in the destruction phase. I have not taken the back trail to the waterfall in a year. I am anxious at the thought, wondering if the beautiful hollowed out 300 year old tree is still standing. A year and a half ago a big storm took out two 60-inch diameter trees, blocking a smaller waterfall. I wish I had appreciated it a little more the last time I was there.


waterfall post tree
Looking toward the bottom of the lower pool, with tree trunk hugging outline on the rocks.



Turtle and the cycle of life

by Kelly Ann Thomas

I was in the process of writing down my own intentions for Harmonia – what it means to me personally – when a wet nose bumped my hand. Linda. She wanted to go for a walk on the beach, which we have not done in a few days. After two years, I know exactly what she is thinking. I decided it was probably a sign, so I took off my glasses and headed down to the water, with Sufi following behind me.

About 20 meters to the left, I saw a large white heron standing at the edge of the lake, with 40 or so zopilotes (buzzards) grouped next to it. The heron flew to a more secure spot, but the zopilotes stood their ground. My black cat Sufi walked over and sat down next to them. The dog ran further down the beach, so I headed in her direction. When I turned back to look for Sufi, she was lost in a sea of black buzzards. I love my cat.

A tiny bit further down the beach, I saw what looked like to be an odd piece of wood that had washed on the shore. On closer inspection, it was an old turtle that had passed onto another dimension a few moments earlier. It was large – the shell about 18 inches in length. It had a small hole in the shell and one of the scutes was missing, but that was not the reason for its demise. I have never seen a lake turtle this size.

I blessed the turtle, hoping that finding it was a sign of the circle of life and nothing ominous since I had just been writing my intentions for Harmonia and our logo is an ancient symbol for the turtle. I meditated next it for a few minutes, then went back and cut some flowers to put around it, meditating a little longer until the waves washed some of the flowers away.

Two nights ago I drew the Transformation card in my tarot deck. Death to the old. That is what I have been trying to do for the past several weeks – release the past and all of its energies. I have also been doing guided meditations by Dr. Joe Dispenza, whose name kept popping up in my YouTube suggestions. I mentioned him to Gwendolyn and she handed me one of his books, Becoming Supernatural. So weird how we were on the same wavelength. I was supposed to go to San Juan del Sur today, but have to ration my gas and cash until my debit card arrives, so I spent the day reading the book. I was doing one of the exercises when Linda called me to the beach.

The concept of the book is that our emotional responses are conditioned by our routines and until we break the cycle, we cannot attract what we really want from life. We have to change our mindset and let go of old patterns. He goes further to explain that inside every atom is 99.99% empty space and that our emotional vibrations fill the space within the atoms of the frequency of our state of being. The idea is to charge the empty space with positive emotion to help the body and manifest the future we desire.

I have felt this for a few months and one reason that I am looking forward to the ceremonies next month to find closure for my old life, but still unaware how the new life will manifest. I have had to let go of predicting how it will happen, which is hard because I am a good prognosticator, just not for myself.

The photos below represent my old life. One is an old hutch that was in the kitchen when I first opened El Gato Negro that eventually housed some of the book inventory. The other is the painted armoire that was once Kiel’s then moved to Gwendolyn’s studio and then to Gato to display her art. When I left San Juan del Sur, I brought these two pieces of furniture there, assuming that I would assemble the yurt and move onto the land as a pioneer woman. Thank goodness I didn’t manifest that! The rain came and I had no way to transport them to some other place, so they sat there, chewed up by termites and rotting into the ground, a symbol of my old life returning to the Earth. These photos are over a year old. Currently, all that remains are painted wood scraps underneath some weeds.

Yesterday, I did miss my old life. Well, I missed the financial security I had in my old life. Trips to Pachamama for workshops and dancing under the stars all night and frequent trips to the US to see my family were the norm. My sister has to have surgery on her foot after having dealt with cancer over the past couple of years and it has been so hard not having the resources to visit and help her. I was really feeling it yesterday without a debit card and deciding how to ration my cash and gas for the next week or so while trying not to put fear into how I am supposed to manifest Harmonia. In this sense, the turtle is symbolic and I am grateful that I could bless its journey to worlds beyond this one.


old hutch melting into the forest

old life disappears


altar for abundance gratitude and harmonia

Gratitude and Abundance


My heart is overflowing with gratitude. If you have felt my energy today, it is because I am thinking of you, grateful that you are in my life.

I made an altar over Juanita’s (the baby fox) grave this morning, finishing just before the rain came to water my prayers into the earth. I sat in the circle of my sacred garden and meditated on everyone and everything that I am blessed to have in my life, happy to have a wonderful place to live, beautiful relations, a large circle of friends, a powerful tribe, my animals, all of my life experiences, and Harmonia.

The past few months have been rough; a culmination of a seven year journey to grow and experience life on a soul level rather than simply my human form. It has been intense, joyous, dramatic, beautiful, sad, frustrating, heartwarming, confusing, peaceful and melancholic – and there were times I experienced every emotion in a single day. The foxes showed up in my life at just the right time, energizing me with their totem power and filling my life with joy and maternal compassion.

I was not prepared for this journey. Seven years ago (August 3) I sat in the forest staring at the sky, stars twinkling behind the branches, waiting. I had looked forward to this particular ceremony for a year and now that it was here, I suffered. I am not one to have visuals with my journeys for the most part. I thought with the forest setting, I would finally see the bird spirits and fairies – or at least something otherworldly that the shamans describe. “You know they exist, but you are not to see them. You would get too lost in that world and your need to be rooted to the earth for your purpose,” said a voice. I was pissed. I wanted to see fairies, damnit!

Instead, I saw Harmonia. The message was clear, coming through the shaman’s voice. I sat between him and the altar during the meditation period. No one was beside me. It was too much. I resisted. It can’t be real. The fairies were more real than this story playing in my head. Every once in a while I looked up at the shaman, whose eyes were almost closed, open just enough to see the reflection of the candle flame twinkling in his eyes. “Is this real?” I asked him in my head and he would smile slightly and nod his head up and down once. Each time his attention moved elsewhere, I could feel it. Most of the night/morning, it was on me. It felt like the entire ceremony, right down to the choice in music, was scripted specifically for me. Several other people commented the next day that I had been a strong part of their journey, which admittedly freaked me out a bit.

When I finally accepted that this was my destiny, I assumed that if the universe wanted me to do this, then the universe would provide. It took two years before I saw the land and it has been four years since I signed for it. Since I am a fly by the seat of my pants girl and put all my faith in the Creation energy that provided me with the vision, I assumed that everything else would flow. It didn’t. I feel that often it was one step forward and two steps back. There have been times that I wished that I didn’t have the vision and could do something else with my life. There were plenty of days that I wished that I had followed my original plan of building a home and living with my forest family in Costa Rica. That had been my plan for two years until the vision of my destiny appeared. So many times I have wondered if it was just the medicine or if this is really my path.

In order for me to create Harmonia, I had to get to the place where I am now. Humbled. Grateful. Nervous yet confident. I had to trust in something with all of my heart, not knowing how it would happen. If I had the opportunity to do it all over, I would have done things so much differently. The backhoe disaster should have been a big enough lesson, but I had such faith in the universe that why wouldn’t I buy my dying friend Pete’s backhoe? The universe has my back. It didn’t. And the failed attempts at wells, the yurt, and little things here and there. But all of these failures were important to experience and learn from, horribly as they have been financially. I am not a shaman and never will be (in spite of that nickname “Shamamama” at Envision!), but I feel like the seven years were a shamanic apprenticeship that will make me able to lead this project. I could not have done it 7 years or ago or even two years ago. I had to battle with my own personal demons first.

In January, I looked into a trip to Brazil to meet the shaman. I need to see him to close this part of my journey, but I did not have the money to travel to Brazil, so I traveled to Arizona to complete the other part of my journey. When I returned to Nicaragua, I discovered that he was scheduled to return to Costa Rica after a seven year absence. My prayers were answered.

Next month I will travel to see him. I am trying not to put any expectations into the journey, but I feel that I will have some sort of closure and at that point I will manifest everything and everyone I need for Harmonia. I have met so many people that want to be part of it, but my timing was off. Way off. Now I am ready. I trust that it is supposed to happen now and I am finally ready to receive the abundance. This is what this altar represents. Gratitude, wisdom and an invitation to open my dream to the world.

In my mediation, I asked for a sign. As I neared the gate, I saw a large family of white faced capuchins playing in the same tree as a troupe of yellow spider monkeys. A capuchin and spider monkey sat side by side, about 2 meters apart. When I crossed the road, a troupe of brown spider monkeys were swinging through the trees. Less than 100 meters away, the black howler monkeys bellowed at a passing motorcycle. Pure harmony. I am where I am supposed to be. Viva Harmonia.

altar in front of carao tree