Aaron Perry


Y On Earth - Podcast Cover
Stewardship & Sustainability Series
Episode 29 – Courtney Cosgriff, Founder, Honeybee Herbals

Courtney Cosgriff, Certified Nutritionist (CN) and Certified Clinical Herbalist (CCH), discusses the vital importance of honey bees in our food systems and pollinators in general in our ecosystems. As the founder of HoneybeeHerbals.co, and an initiate of the College of the Melissae, Courtney also shares some of the ancient traditions of sacred bee-keeping found in Cretan, Minoan, Greek, and other Mediterranean cultures. She reveals how “honey is alchemy,” and “bees are wisdom-collectors.” From the Temple of Karnak, near Luxor, Egypt, to the teachings of Hippocrates, and from ancient Indian wisdom that regards the buzzing of bees to be the Sound of Celestial Creation, to the national bee-keeping practices in Slovenia, and to teaching courses at the GrowHaus in Denver, Colorado, Courtney traverses time and space in this delightful exploration of our sacred connection with the honey bees.


(Automatically generated transcript for search engine optimization and reference purposes – grammatical and spelling errors may exist.)

Welcome to the YonEarth Communities Stewardship and Sustainability Podcast Series.

Today I am so excited that we have the opportunity to visit with Courtney Cosgriff.

Hi Courtney.


How are you today?

I’m doing really good.

Happy to be here.


We’re so happy you’re here with us.


Courtney has a very interesting background and we’re basically going to be talking today

a lot about honeybees and Courtney is a beekeeper.

She is also a CN, a certified nutritionist, a CCH, a certified clinical herbalist and

she is a member of the College of the Melissai which we’ll be talking about.

Now Courtney is bringing to us today a conversation about some of the deeper and more sacred aspects

of our relationships with honeybees and before diving into that Courtney and asking you

how you got started with all of this I just want to mention that we are in the greenhouse

of Alpine Botanicals in Netherlands, Colorado where Courtney works and it is such a joy

it’s about 20 something degrees outside and it’s actually pretty toasty in here in the

greenhouse so we’ve got plants and flowers with us and it’s just a lot of fun.

So we wanted to give a quick shout out to Alpine Botanicals which is Alpinebotanicals.com

if you’d like to see some of the amazing products and get some for yourself that these

folks are creating.

Now Courtney is also the founder of honeybee urbals and you’re going to find some amazing

products and great resources at honeybeeurbals.co so I encourage you to check that out.

We’ll talk about that some more as well.

So before diving into this amazing treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom that we’re going

to hear about from you Courtney I’m really excited for you to share with our audience

how you got started with all of this what happened.

Well Aaron it’s kind of it’s a it’s a wild story I’ll just put it that way so I got into

honeybees through two nodeath experiences actually.

Your death experiences.

So I’ll all elaborate on this.

So yeah started I was when I was 18 years old me and my best friend were traveling out

to Oregon and we were driving out there and in Idaho she fell asleep at the wheel and we

got into a pretty bad car accident of flipping the car about like two to three times in the


I was asleep in the passenger seat basically woke up with the car upside down and obviously

that was one of the scariest experiences of my life.

Luckily I was the middle of the night in Idaho on the freeway but a military man was actually

driving by and had saw the accident and stopped and basically pulled us out of the car.

But neither of us had a scratch not a bruise no injuries the car was obviously totaled

but other than that we were fine and in that moment I just remember coming outside the

car and just looking at the stars and it was just a beautiful starry sky and I just felt

something deep within deep within inside that just told me to keep traveling for some

reason and I just listened to that voice and ended up I spent all the last bit of money

I had on a plane ticket to Oregon.

We were traveling out to Oregon at the time to go to a music festival outside of Portland

and so yeah I spent all my money on a plane ticket to Oregon and when I got into Oregon

I obviously had to hitchhike to the area where the festival was and along the way I met

a gentleman who worked for a beekeeper.

I was getting off the light rail in Portland and he had this like briefcase with some bees

painted on it and he was like hey like stopped me and he’s like hey you want to talk about

bees for a little bit and I was like oh sure and he was selling some honeybee products

like propolis and bee pollen and different things and yeah I just remember that was kind

of my first introduction to honeybees and beekeeping and apotherapy and it was just really interesting

and he had like these informational handouts talking about like the historical uses of

propolis and talking about like ancient Egypt and ancient Greece and from there I was just

like kind of really fascinated because I’ve always been fascinated with the history and mythology

around those civilizations and yeah so I ended up going to the festival and having an amazing time

a connecting with a lot of amazing people and came back to Colorado and not two three weeks later

I got into another car accident where I was driving my dad’s truck up in Veil Colorado or outside

Veil in a wasp flew in my eye and just caused me to go off the road and kind of a similar accident

and I came out without a scratch unfortunately I told all that truck which was really hard because

my dad owns like a long care business and that was his work truck and it was it was definitely like

a hard experience to do that but I’m really grateful that we came out of it and everything you know

is you know to this day still great and but yeah I mean it’s really interesting some people might

ask like what does wasp has to do with honeybees and honeybees and wasps actually have a pretty

interesting relationship and I’ve experienced this like at through my years working with bees

wasps are actually carnivorous and they’ll actually like if a if a hive is weak they’ll actually

go in and rob out the hive and eat the bees they’re carnivorous they’ll eat bees so it’s kind

of this weird interesting relationship between those two insects so yeah that’s kind of like

just ties that in and then after that experience the honeybees just kept showing up I would be

out at restaurants out on tacos and honeybees would just be flying around my glass and flying around

me and I just started to see them like everywhere and it took some time for me to kind of acknowledge

that these were signs and it took me sitting down with a good friend telling him you know these

different experiences that I was having and he was like I think you’re being called to work

with honeybees I think you should listen to this and I did and it was a long journey I ended up

actually going back to Oregon to meet the beekeeper that the first gentleman I met worked for so I

met him and you know studied with him for a little bit learned from him for a little bit he ended

up not being like the mentor I think I was supposed to learn from though he definitely introduced me

to the world but I knew that his way of working with bees probably wasn’t the way that I was supposed

to work with bees so it took a long journey actually for me so this all started yeah when I was 18

19 years old and it took it took us a few years for me to really find some mentors that I resonated

with and this is you know I think something that a lot of people well the the dominant paradigm

of beekeeping here in the United States is actually highly unsustainable with highly unethical and really

really fails to to acknowledge the sacredness of the honeybee and enter a symbiotic relationship

with them honoring their true nature their biology all those different things and so it took some time

you know going you know going to different beekeeping meetings bee clubs and I was you know this

young girl around a bunch of you know older guys in their 50s and 60s and the way they just

talked about working with the bees just really didn’t resonate with me my intuition just kept telling

me like this is not this is it the way and so it was discouraging for a bit because I was just

like I really want to do this I really want to do this but nothing none of this is resonating and

then I went to a honey festival in Denver and I was walking around the festival and there was

this woman and she was actually wearing a shirt just like I’m wearing right here because this is

they made this and it has the bee with the flower of life on it and I was like you I was like I’m

supposed to study with you and her name is Karen and her in Corwin Bell started backyard hive

so you can go to their website backyardhive.com they are amazing they’re based in

El Dorado Springs Colorado and they’re just there’s some natural beekeepers they mainly work with

top bar hives and they kind of came up with this like bee guardian method which is just a more natural

way of working with bees that really seeks to honor the true nature of the honey bee so I was so thrilled

when I started working with them and mentoring and just like well a practicing with them just because

I feel like I finally found my teachers in a way to learn and grow in my path of working with

bees and being a beekeeper so I apprentice with Corwin for about like four or five years I still go

back and work with him all the time and just because I I think if there’s one thing I’ve always

like I’ve learned with this path is you know I think I’ll spend my whole life you know studying

the honey bee and still maybe only understand a fraction because they’re just such mysterious

beings and they have so much to teach us and I just think there’s such value in learning from

so many different perspectives in the beekeeping world and stuff I’m always seeking out to learn

from other people which is why where I’m currently studying is the College of the Melissa which is

based in Ashland Oregon and it’s really more of a mystery school and centered for sacred bee

keeping centered around studying the mythology of the folklore and the history of more sacred

traditions of working with bees particularly the Melissa who were bee priestesses who came out

of the Minoan culture and got kind of got observed into ancient Greece but also looking at ancient Egypt

and there’s some beautiful mythology in India so it’s it’s really been cool to kind of dive into

that aspect of beekeeping which is something I’m really fascinated with is more of the cultural

meaning and symbolism behind it so I’m currently studying there I also am a certified clinical

herbalist and nutritionist I have my own private practice where I work one-on-one with individuals

it’s kind of what I went to like official school four with more natural medicine just because

I love you know helping people and being a messenger for the plants to do their healing work

in others so that’s what I do kind of as a career I’m on a top of beekeeping and then I also yeah

we’ll just you know started my business honey bee herbals and watched my website this year and

it’s great just diving in yeah honey bee herbals well there’s so much in here I can’t wait

to ask you a few follow-on questions and just just to start you know I also have worked with

Corwin and Karen and Corwin is the person I learned from when I first started keeping bees

and the person I also learned from to harvest or capture you could say a swarm

around the neighborhood and that’s such an interesting art it’s such an interesting time to

literally be able to with your bare hands touch hundreds thousands of bees and feel their

vibrations and the heat coming off and to help bring them to a great home others in the network

of bee guardians who are taking good care of these honey bees and at time when they really need our

help and there’s so much going on we’ll get to that that we really more and more of us are

needed to help take good care of the bees and the other pollinators now I also want to mention

that you are an educator as well and you you do a lot of your educating through an organization

called the Growhouse which is one in one of the low-income communities in the Denver area

and they’re doing amazing work with food thriving sustainability and you’re working there with

folks of all ages including doing a lot with the youth and tell us a bit about what’s happening

with Growhouse and how you’re serving there I mean I’d love to talk about the Growhouse because I think

they’ve been a huge just inspiration in my journey and I’m just so grateful that that place

exists so I basically I was hired as their resident beekeeper in December of 2016 so managing

their hives they have just a few hives we only have one right now looking to get a few more but

yeah and so I manage their hives but I’m also an educator there so I do a lot of guest teaching

and their education programs so there’s primarily three that I guess teach and one is called bees

the EES three appropriate budding early experiences and that one’s geared towards the like little

ones ages four to ten and they just learn about gardening they learn about permaculture storage

ships really getting their hands dirty making things they were really excited we’re probably going

to be doing making an insect hotel if they’re final project this summer which I’m super excited

about and yeah so there’s that program there’s the seed to seed which is geared towards high school

kids kind of teaching the same principles same concepts and then also micro farm which is geared

towards the adults in the community and that’s really fun so I just I love I love teaching

in the community there and it’s just such a vibrant wonderful place what’s doing such amazing

things please go check it out the growhoss.org they have a beautiful event on March 23rd it’s

their seed swap it’s their biggest event and it’s just so much fun so if you’re in the Denver area

around them like highly recommend going and yeah by the way the yonearth Community it looks like

may be there on that event too so I’ll be very cute I’ll be teaching the class and selling some

products apparently hundreds of people come to that event it gets about 800 to 1000 people

every year it’s amazing and it’s just so much fun there’s music there’s dancing there’s food

it’s it’s just great so yeah the growhoss is really it’s really shaped my life and really

giving me a different view on like activism and really giving me a place to like give back so

honey bearables offers because of the growhoss through my business I offer nonprofit education so

focusing on you know I work with another organization called plant the seed I’ll be working with

them this summer so just different organizations that are geared towards you know educating the youth

or and just I do that in a nonprofit way just because I want to get the information out there so

important so that’s really exciting and yeah so check out the growhoss and everything that they’re

doing they’re definitely an exemplary model of what needs to exist in these communities that are

just underserved so if you’re searching for growhoss it’s it’s spelled g-r-o-w-h-a-u-s the German

spelling of house and is it dot org dot org yeah growhoss dot org so okay you’re you’re a student

at the college of the Melissai but really we could say you’re an initiate in in what is a an

esoteric mystery school or lineage or practice and I am so curious to hear what what does that

mean what I imagine you guys are are doing much more than just technical beekeeping stuff

no no not at all I mean that’s definitely a part of it and I think one one thing that I really

was drawn to with this school and what’s really like all everywhere I’ve studied is that bridging

of science and spirituality and just understanding you know that those two worlds they need to come

together so we do study beekeeping you know basics and science and you know honeybee

biology and stuff like that honeybee health but I’ll just share this one quote by Lane Redmond

who wrote the book when the drummers were women and we go back and reference her work a lot

basically she just says in revisioning the past we envision the future and I think that is a big

part of what is being done at the college of the Melissai and I’m still I mean I’m still in the

very beginning and still grasping you know this experience of studying there and it’s already

reshaping so much of what I thought I knew and really yeah so we study like the you know ancient

traditions of keep working with honeybees because it really goes back pretty far so you have the

manoeuvring cultures which on the island of Crete which were pre ancient Greece and they were

actually an apocultural society what does that mean Tulsa that word means they really just they

centered around the bees and the bees were a big symbol for their spirituality their temples

their main goddess the mother goddess was a bee and that’s where the Melissai come from

so the Melissai were later absorbed into ancient Greece and they were the bee priestesses and they

they served they were basically they were oracles and they yeah they served a lot of the most brilliant

minds in Greece you know a lot of those brilliant minds would go on these vision quests with the

Melissai and they would usually take part in you know eating some sort of psychedelic honey or

something like that and it’s just I mean it’s a very it’s very rich and deep and I’m definitely

still grasping and understanding it that whole area but the Mediterranean cultures around that

time period around like 3000 BC were very like centered around honeybees and the honeybees were

very potent symbols in those civilizations not only for you know building systems or like

false like temples and stuff like that a lot of the temples were kind of

based off of like the the idea of the hive and stuff like that and in ancient Egypt too which is

really cool I mean what not whole year when all that those cars that were happening when I was 19

years old I actually went to Egypt on my own and got to see you know the honeybees symbols like

in flesh you know on the temple of Karnak there’s bees everywhere on these pillars and

seen different hieroglyphs like with bees you know it’s just being beekeeping that’s near Luxor

yeah it’s near Luxor the temple of Karnak really cool place so in ancient Egypt there’s also

such a rich history of beekeeping they were beekeeping is one of the really big lasting

achievements I think of ancient Egypt they were one of the civilizations to really you know come

up with like the idea of more like a more agricultural society growing you know more food for more

people and they discovered you know that you know honeybees are really good pollinators and they

would actually like move their hives to different gardens and it’s pretty cool and they yeah so

niece uh which is an Egyptian goddess she’s actually you know kind of like the origin goddess

to the the mother goddess Egyptian mythology that all the other gods and goddesses come from

and she is associated with the bee so in some of the early myths and stories she flies off

in the form of a bee and her temple or the house of meath was also called the temple of the bee

and it was actually what was really cool to me just to you know being an herbalist and working

in the health world is uh it was an education or medical college that mostly women uh ran and

they focused a lot on like you know birthing and women’s health and stuff like that and I think

that’s just really really cool and just like a beautiful symbol for it you know not ties in

in a lot of different cultures the honeybee is a really potent symbol for the divine feminine

and a lot of you know in these ancient civilizations the mother goddess was really or some of like

art and this is really a lot of you know some of our most famous goddesses really had a really deep

connection with honeybees and the honeybee symbol shows up um and they’re they’re myths and stories

a lot so it’s pretty cool it’s rich and diverse I am I have so much to learn and absorb and I think

uh if there’s one thing I’m learning through the the school of the Melissa is more so just to

observe and interact with the bees and that’s really what we’re here to do is you know form our

own experiences based off of you know what we observe and pick up on if you’re working with these

very sacred magical creatures it’s so beautiful you know there’s so much continuity coming

to us to our modern culture from these classical and even pre-classical cultures and for some of

our audience it may sound like we’re we’re really discussing some quite esoteric uh subject matter

that may or may not immediately relate now I think it’s important to spend a little more time on

why this might be so essential in these times living in the anthropocene where we humans are having

such dramatic impacts on the earth on ecosystems on pollinators etc and there there are some really

interesting things to unpack one of which is the the the the famous or might say infamous philosopher

Nietzsche and later Carl Jung who did a lot with Nietzsche’s work have been unpacking

pre-classical Mediterranean cultural legacy and have realized Nietzsche in his in his first major

work the birth of tragedy went back to uh pre-Hellenic Greek culture which is essentially

Minoan Cretan and other cultures around that area to discover that in our in our deep mythos

we actually have a much better balance between divine feminine divine masculine these different

forces that are at work on our planet and that one of our great jobs now one of our great projects

and works now is to rediscover and reestablish that balance and that might sound a bit abstract

yeah it’s showing up in our social realms in very interesting ways right now and most importantly

we might say it’s showing up in our ecological relationships and look we we live on a

beautiful spaceship we all share this planet earth so well engineered no one needs to worry about

the engineering unless we knock it so far out of balance it suddenly we have to do work to restore

that balance yeah this is such a beautiful place and we have really disrupted at a at a magnificent

scale uh so that now our main job in the 21st century is to help heal and restore and of course

that’s a big part of the YonEarth communities work and why we’re uh interfacing with folks

like yourself and Courtney and uh anyway I think that for many of us digging a little more into

that history and that pre-history is actually really important to the foundation of how we got to

where we are today yeah I think it I think it gives context to the experiences and I think

and and that’s I think in honoring and studying you know past cultures and these histories and it’s

we’re I mean we’re honoring you know our ancestors by doing that and it’s super super important that

that information doesn’t get lost I mean I think I’m out like the the burning of the library

of Alexandria like how how like we just all of that just sacred information and knowledge just lost

and I think you know we really have a duty here right now and I certainly feel this calling to

you know reawaken that knowledge and don’t let it go away because that’s who we are and our

connection to the earth and the animals and the plants and the soil and the air and the water I

mean that is that is who we are we are a part of that and in in revisioning and then we’ve

been looking at these past cultures we we get a little bit more context of meaning to what we

are supposed to be doing and to these connections to the earth and how how we return return to

that reverence beautiful yeah so beautiful and so important and you know the image of the be

hive persists in a variety of esoteric and spiritual communities throughout the planet as a symbol of

what it means to be working in harmony together with with love and with mutual respect and a sense of

a greater purpose right one of the things that hive I think symbolizes for so many of us is that

the super organism of that community is way more important than any one of the individuals right

and I think I like what you just said because this is this is one thing I always try and tell people

you know in my beekeeping education is you know a hive is not a box of insects it’s one being

it’s this beautiful super organism and when you look at the swarming and the queen and the reproduction

of the hive it’s constantly regenerating itself and you know it’s this beautiful cycle that

just keeps going and going and going and going and going and you know one of my favorite when I

fell in love with the honey bee I fell in love with the world because I feel like when I started

working with bees I just started to like they teach us this beautiful how interconnected life is

and just their relationship with plants and flowers and the medicines they create you know and

just they’re just absolutely amazing yeah the inner workings of the hive and you know they are

potent symbol for I think one thing that I resonate with so much is sacred service as you know

we I there’s this beautiful sentence that I learned to know through my studies of the college

of the Melissa that my mentor Laura said that I was reading and that it was I think it was

you know honeybee’s record represents sacred service is like a beauty path and They are, there’s such symbols of beauty and love, you know, when you look at their relationship with flowers, especially,

and anyone who sees a honeybee pollinating in the flower, you feel that, that love.

That’s just what you feel. You see love and you see beauty.

And yeah, I just think that they have so much to teach us, but I really, you know, how they just like,

selflessly, you know, in the whole hive, you know, there’s no like individual B, you know.

It is one being that, you know, works together in this beautiful collective intelligence

to facilitate life on earth. You know, we, we wouldn’t have the nourishing foods we wouldn’t,

we have, you know, the medicine that they provide and not just in the physical world, but also,

you know, the spiritual wisdom that they give us and what they teach us is, is just so, so powerful

and so rich. And I think there’s some of the greatest teachers on this planet.

It’s so beautiful. You know, I’m sitting here thinking about, we, we can recall these,

these almost monolithic figures from Greek culture. I’m thinking Pythagoras, Hippocrates,

Socrates and Plato. And of course, Aristotle and Alexander, the great, that lineage, those four

guys. And to imagine that those men were deeply steeped in the culture of the Melissai and that

there’s this whole other aspect to that history and that story that most of us probably haven’t

seen or heard of. And how important is it for us to really reclaim and re-see what was going on?

And it’s not to get into gender stereotypes or gender roles, but it’s interesting. In the hive,

most of the bees are female. Yeah. And then there are these male drones that strangely act like,

like, barbs of, of your going, they’re the ones who are allowed to go between hives and visit

different hives. Yeah. And are allowed in, they kind of trade information. They’re almost like

traveling news, news, uh, guys, right? And that’s so interesting. It’s as if what we’re remembering

from Greek culture is only the drone part of the story. And there’s a whole hive part of the

story that allows that to happen. And that’s so much of what we, we were, you know, learning

at the college of the Melissa, at least right, you know, been learning is that the herstery,

you know, that has been lost in so much of, you know, our, you know, divine feminine and goddess

cultures and mother worshiping cultures, you know, have been suppressed or misunderstood. And that’s

just, you know, because who writes history? You know, I mean, not to like, you know, you know,

throw any prejudice, but it’s white men from academia. And so, so how much of that information is

getting lost? And I just, and I’m still totally understanding this. So, but I, I really, you know,

and I think a lot of, um, at the college of Melissa, just this belief that maybe the, the Melissa,

we’re just like this like secret theme, you know, behind the scenes, this like, uh, collective of,

of women of deep priestesses that we’re just holding such sacred information and really inspiring.

I think these men in, in such deep ways and taking them on these deep vision quests and

what that even mean. And you know, you think about what came from ancient Greece, democracy,

you know, think about hypocrite’s in medicine and healing and how much of our, you know,

core ethics in health care and in, um, yeah, and just that realm come from ancient Greece.

Like the hypocritical. And how much, you know, and then so just like, you know, you can really go

down to the rabbit hole with this. I certainly have. And I’m exploring maybe how much of,

you know, some of these really concrete, you know, concepts and themes in our modern society

today might actually be inspired by these deep priestesses. So it’s so beautiful. You know, I,

I want to, I’m just thinking about some of our audience, right? And I have so many friends and family

who are, you know, practicing Catholics, Christians, Muslims, and these, these Abrahamic traditions,

which it turns out, uh, includes some, something like half or a little more than half of our global

population. We, we have such a deep tradition going back to the, the Hebrew roots. Yeah. And,

you know, one of the things, this is reminding me of a story. This is why I’m mentioning this.

I want to tell a story, but one of the things in the, in the creation story of Genesis in Hebrew,

when what we say God is creating the world, it’s the Elohim, right? And this is a, a group of

gods or aspects of God that have different genders. This isn’t a single male entity. And that’s

in our Old Testament root. Elohim, right? So because I’m thinking of this funny story, I remember

hearing a story about a missionary visiting a tribe here in North America. And this medicine

man after getting to know the missionary for months and months, they became friends. And the

missionary said, Hey, why aren’t you joining in our Christian ritual? Yeah. And why don’t you

like what we’re doing? And the medicine man that says, Oh, no, no, I’m very much like what you

are doing. But you only have half a religion. And we too worship the loving father in heaven

in this guy. And we have a relationship with mother earth. And it’s the balance of the two that

allows us humans to live in harmony on this planet. Now, in some of our Christian realms, we’ll

see a whole lot of the feminine emerging with Mary. And that’s very strong in certain parts of the

world, especially Latin America. But I just, I think we’re, it’s time right now for this conversation

to cross dogmatic barriers and look at the reality of the situation in which we find ourselves where

we have been given this amazing creation, this living planet. And we may not have permission

to stay here much longer unless we change our behavior. Yeah, no, we are the time clock is running

out. And it’s scary. And it’s, it’s really just heartening and to just, you know, skate back to

the honeybees. And I think so much of what is happening with our honeybees right now is just

they are showing us what we need to see. And they’re telling us what we need to hear. And we have

to start listening. Like we have to. And, you know, so many people, you know, you have calling

class disorder. And there’s so many different, you know, reasons and the, you know, the reasons

that called honeybees are declining is multifactorial. It’s so many different things, but it comes down

to our disconnection from nature. Yes. We have disconnected ourselves from the natural world. And

more importantly, what is happening with our honeybees is we are manipulating nature. We are

manipulating, you know, the biology and the intelligence of nature to further serve, you know,

in cater to this like mass consumerism, you know, and, you know, mass production, you know, and

that is, that is the core of it. That is the core of it. And we have to, we have to take a step back

and really like look at this because it’s really, it’s heartbreaking to see what is happening to

the honeybees right now. And I think we have to understand, you know, that it’s just in the United

States, we’ve built an agricultural system dependent upon the honeybees. And, you know, because

people are so disconnected and not everybody, but the majority of the population is disconnected

from their food. They’re disconnected from the soil, the water. And because of that, you know,

that’s, it’s, we’re dependent on commercial agriculture. Yeah. And that system is

destructive in so many different ways. It’s not just poisoning our air and our water and all of

our pollinators, all of our pollinators are, you know, we are experiencing an insect, you know,

apocalypse right now. And you taught, we took in your previous podcasts, you know, you guys

talked about this, you know, the insects are like the foundation. And if they start to go, like,

that is going to affect the great web of life. And that is what we are seeing. And, you know,

the honeybees in particular, it’s just really sad, you know, to see how much of, you know, these

these creatures are so, so intelligent and just the, and just brilliant and sacred and, you know,

the work that they do on this planet is so sacred and that is being exploited in such a big way.

You know, the medicines of the hive are exploited in big ways and that is not okay. And it’s,

we really need to take a step back and we need to return to a state of reverence with these beans,

but we also need to take action. And how we take action is we put our money where our

mouth is and we support regenerative and organic agriculture. We grow our own food. We support

those movements. We be a voice, use your voice. That is one of the most powerful things you can do.

And it’s something that I’ve had to come to a long journey with of finding my voice and

speaking my truth on this matter because I feel like that is why I’m here. It speaks for the honey

bees because they can’t speak for themselves right now. Yeah, beautiful, beautiful. In the book YonEarth, I talk about how powerful our consumer demand is as a signalling out into the world to

take care of the bees, to take care of the soil, the water with each and every organic food purchase.

And it may be not all of our food is organic, but if each of us is doing more organic, the way

that tips the scales and those supply chains is absolutely transformational. You could even think

of it as being alchemical. And it is so important. And one of the five things we have to do

is stop poisoning our world. We just have to stop ourselves, our bodies, our bathrooms,

our kitchens, our waterways, our fields, our yards. We have to stop poisoning now.

Yeah. It’s that simple. And we can each choose that right now.

Yeah. We have to. We absolutely have to. I think it’s just we don’t really have any more time

to be avoiding it. There’s no avoiding it. I love one of my mentors would say we have just

enough time and we have to act. But you have to have hope too. Totally. And I think that’s really

important. And I think I’ve definitely gone through deep stages of just despair and depression

around it. And I think it’s really easy. And I love to say so much of activism is what we are

against in this world. And while I agree that we must combat these paradigms that only bring

about destruction and disempowerment, I also believe that activism is about what we love.

It’s what we want to create. And so, you know, in Honey Beerables, I believe we focus on love and

connection and envisioning a world where space is held for all beings to thrive. And that includes

the honey bees. That includes the pollinators because really when you focus on this bigger vision

of just, you know, caring for all beings, then it’s just it ripples and that’s the beauty of

the interconnectedness of life is through supporting pollinators. You support all these other

beings and plants. Oh my gosh, plants. And it’s just, yeah, so let’s focus on what we want to create.

So, you know, here’s the problem. But like, what does the solutions look like? So, like,

let your creative inspiration and imagination like drive that.

I absolutely love that. Let me just make the mention that this is the YonEarth

community’s stewardship and sustainability podcast series. And today I’m visiting with Courtney

Cosgiff, who is the founder of Honey Beerables. And you can find amazing resources and products on

the website honeybeerables.co. Speaking of relationships in ecosystems, I also want to thank our

sponsors of the podcast. This includes Earth Coast productions, Waylay Waters, Purium,

the Association of Water Schools of North America, and the International Institute of Sustainability

Professionals. Now, you can use the code word YonEarth, all one word, to get discounts with

many of those sponsors to get discounts at the honeybeerables.co website, and to get discounts

at the YonEarth community marketplace where we have ebooks, audio books, all kinds of

soil resources, et cetera. And while mentioning books, I want to share them so excited.

I’m so excited to share that. Many of you are probably aware that we have already published our

first children’s book, which is called Celebrating Soil. And this is with the amazing artwork,

original artwork of Yvonne Coslina. And in just a little while, we’re going to have the next

children’s book out, which is called Celebrating Honeybees. And this is, I’m holding the original

artwork that Yvonne created for the cover. If you can see this, I’ll zoom in a little. All right.

And then Courtney and I picked out one of the additional pieces that will be in the book that

we thought would be fun to share with you all, which is right here. And those of you that are

tuning in via podcast and only getting audio, check out, we’ll have a lot of the resources

YonEarth.org. You can also view the video there as well. And I think I also want to mention

speaking of what we can do, the YonEarth community is hosting a three-day summit May 17th through

19th. We’re doing this in the year 2019. And it is massively mobilizing sustainability,

deep leadership for the 21st century, for three core audiences, executives, educators,

and entrepreneurs. You are going to have an amazing experience gathering all kinds of knowledge and

wisdom that you can take back to your communities, to your companies, to your schools, to help further

deploy the stewardship and regeneration actions that are needed right now in these times. So

stay tuned for additional information coming out on massively mobilizing sustainability.

And that date May 17th through 19th comes just before May 20th, which is World B Day.

And I can’t wait to chat just a bit about our connection with Slovenia. And there’s such a

magical piece there. I think that’s really when we first met, how we got so excited about

connecting with each other. So you’ve traveled in Slovenia, Courtney, tell me what was that like?

Okay, so yeah, I mean, so me and my two best friends went on a beautiful backpacking trip through

Europe this past summer. And Slovenia ended up being one of the countries that we explored. And

I knew that there was a rich tradition of beekeeping in that area of the world, but I had no idea

like the magnitude and depth of it. And I just remember like taking the train in the minute we

entered that country. I mean, you just know that like feeling, you’re just like this place,

this place is special. And I knew that I knew in that moment that this place was going to play

apart in my journey. And yeah, and it just came to unfold through my time. They’re like, whoa,

like I just started to see the honeybee everywhere. And just through talking with, you know,

Slovenia, I was like, oh my gosh, they were telling me, you know, that virtually every household

has a beekeeper. And there was just like honey stores everywhere. And just the honeybee was just

everywhere. And I ended up getting going to an apocultural museum just outside of Lake Blood.

In that town, I, which I’m going to completely butcher the name. So I’m just not going to say it.

But I was just utterly, I’d never seen just so many like bee, just memorable,

bilion, artifacts, and information. There was an exhibit where you could go in and hear the

sounds of a queen bee. And I like literally just came out and like just tears. It was just

such a cool experience. I spent hours in that museum and got this little book that was called

Beekeeper at Heart, which is the story about Anton Johnson, who was basically like kind of like

the hero for Slovenian beekeepers. He was a big pioneer in beekeeping and bee lover. And he helps,

you know, discover a lot of, you know, the concepts and things that we work with with honeybees

today and understandings of, you know, working with bees and beekeeping. And his birthday is May 20th.

And that’s actually the day of World Bee Day. So Slovenia, yeah. So the reason we have

World Bee Day is because of Slovenia and Slovenian beekeepers. And I think the one thing that just

resonated with me so much about this country was it’s a young country. And it’s just, it was

extremely humble country all around their capital, Lubiana. They didn’t have statues of politicians

or anything like that. They had statues of poets. And I just thought that was really, really cool.

They’re just a sweet humble country that’s in love with the honeybee. And you can see it in like

the way that they honor poetry and art and nature. And yeah, it’s just a really, really beautiful

beautiful country with a huge, rich tradition of beekeeping. And I really look forward to exploring

it more. I love Slovenia. So I think I may have shared a bit at the, in the introduction of the

book Why on Earth that my, my maternal grandmother is Slovenian. And I grew up in her kitchen many,

many hours in her kitchen. And when I was able to visit Slovenia a number of years ago and notice

that families, virtually every family has what you would call either a really big garden or a

small farm. And from two-year-old little kids all the way up to octogenarians and even people in

their 90s are out there growing food together in that family relationship and have that connection

to land. And when I went to Slovenia, I had already studied permaculture and was already quite deep

in many of these stewardship and sustainability practices. And I thought, oh my god, this whole

country is essentially a permaculture country. And it’s just beautiful. But they’re so sweet and

humble about it. You know what I mean? Which is just like, we all like know how like, you know,

some people can let that stuff get to their heads. And I think that’s just, you just can’t because

this is who we are is human. Like, I think if anything, you know, yeah, and that’s just like,

I think what I love so much about it. It’s just, it’s just their way of life. And it’s like, yeah,

that’s all of our way of life. Right. It’s just living up with the Earth in that way in it. And

I just think it’s really, really cool. And look, these weren’t subsistence farmers. These were

software engineers. These were folks running beautiful manufacturing operations that were

shipping gorgeous cabinetry all around the world. These are educators and professors and all

kinds of professionals who are engaging, growing food with their families. And we can do all these

things as we’re transitioning into a sustainable framework in this culture. There are patterns out

there ancient patterns, modern patterns that we can really learn from and emulate in a way that

works well. And boy, we get to improve our quality of life while doing all this food to win,

win. Yeah. We need that, you know, good nourishing organic food. And it’s it’s a big part of our health

and our well-being and yeah. It’s so true. I want you to share to some of the insights you shared

with me the other day about the honey itself as alchemy. And, you know, that that we also can use

the metaphor of the honey tongue. And there’s a real rich connection there with honey and

that being medicine. And I was hoping you would share that with us a bit, of course. I mean,

I would be happy to because I think it’s really important. And this is one thing, you know,

and talking about the exploitation of honey bee products because it is a really big issue right now.

And I think I really try and advocate for a more sacred consumption of honey. And there’s a lot

of reasonings behind that one and a lot of ancient civilizations and cultures around the world. You

know, honey is revered as sacred. It don’t get me wrong. It’s also medicine. But it’s sacred. And

the reasoning behind that is what what is honey? I mean, it’s a sacred reflection of our landscape.

I think more than anything honey bee tell honey tell the love story. A love story between honey

and honey bees and flowers. And when you think about, you know, I like to think of the honey bees

as nature’s alchemists. And they travel from flower to flower collecting nectar. Right?

Or collecting wisdom. You know, that could be a symbol for the honey bee as a wisdom keepers and

givers. But yeah, they travel from flower to flower collecting nectar and then they come back

to the hive and, you know, through community and collective intelligence and alchemy they create

this substance that is utterly delicious. I mean, it’s so sweet. It’s the nectar of the gods. I mean,

and there’s also like so much mythology if you think about it. You think about the story behind

Zeus of, you know, these these gods that are, you know, hidden in caves and fed on a diet of honey.

You know, that’s where like milk and honey comes from. And it’s just really interesting. So honey

isn’t a six-streaming sacred substance. It has always been seen as that. And I think we need to

we need to see it as that. And I think of when I eat honey, you know, even if it’s just a tiny drop

of my honey on my tongue, especially if it’s my own honey, that’s a spiritual experience.

It’s I feel an extremely embodied in that moment. And I feel extremely connected to my landscape

and to the land that I’m living on. And that’s providing for me. And I think, yeah, the honey is

just like the essence of sunshine. It’s it’s it’s utterly magical. And I’m just I really, I’d

think and there’s so much work that the honey bees, you know, do to to make that substance. So how

can we return to a more sacred consumption and relationship with honey bee products and especially

honey. And I think, you know, also like when Rudolph Siner touches on this a little bit, but,

you know, how, you know, honey is a, you know, eating honey helps with like, it just helps to

enlighten our soul and connects us to the earth and yeah, so. And to the sun. And to the sun.

And just focusing on, yeah, just a more sacred consumption of the substance.

One of my dear friends and mentors has been a beekeeper in the biodynamic tradition from

Steiner for a while. And he was sharing with me that we can think of the bees as they’re moving

through the landscape as being like living crystals or prisms through their wings that sunlight

is being spread all over to all the plants and all the critters that are living there.

I’ve never thought of that. And that’s just like what is so amazing about honey bees is they just

have so many little droplets of wisdom and sacredness. And I just I feel like I will be exploring

the, the them for the rest of my life. And so just continue to find little droplets. And I think

just one thing that, you know, listening to the bees and sitting with the bees. And I think

when you work with bees, you really just start to really see nature and work with nature and like

this, this force, you know, that, you know, you know, facilitate all life. And one really other cool,

just like, you know, historical references in India. There’s a lot of cool

connections with honey bees and bees around the sound. And so the, the, in old India attacks,

they associate the buzzing of bees with the celestial home of creation. And there’s a breathing

practice called Brahmare Pranayama where you actually like make yourself sound like a bee. And

it’s absolutely amazing. And to be in a room with a bunch of other people doing that pranayama

practice is so cool. And I think there’s such power in the sound of the bees and the buzz and the

home and how that is just like this unstructured sound of the universe. I’ve actually been in circles

where we’ll have somebody in the middle and everybody else surrounding creating that sound.

And it’s just tremendous. You just feel light and love vibrating throughout your whole body.

It’s amazing. And I think, you know, and I think when you do that, like when I’ve been in

experiences where people are doing Brahmare and it’s like, we’re just like this hive, you know,

we’re all working together, but we’re all like one bee just buzzing together. And there’s such

magic there. And I think that also, you know, ties into how much the honey bees can inspire

community. Beautiful Courtney. Well, I am so grateful we had the opportunity to speak with you today.

And before closing, I wanted to just share that, you know, that experience you had that you shared

at the beginning of our discussion with the two car accidents, these near-death experiences,

and then having these bees showing up and it’s like you were being called and you listened

to that call. And I want to invite our audience, you know, we’re probably all being called.

Some of us maybe miss it sometimes or get it here, feel it, experience that call, and then just

kind of let it go and get back to our busy lives or whatever it might be. And Courtney, I think the

fact that you have responded to this call the way you have is so important. This is the network

of leadership emerging all around our world. And my hope is more of us will connect with what you’re

doing, honeybeeurbals.co, and we’ll also feel the resonance of your response to that sacred call,

and feel that invitation to respond even further ourselves in our own lives wherever we might be.

It’s such an important time. Yes, it is. And I think also, you know, mine was a dramatic

calling. And I just want everyone to know that you don’t really have to have this dramatic

experience to be called. It could be as simple as your out one day in nature and you see maybe like

a honeybeeurb, you see a creature and something in your heart just lights up. That’s a calling.

And I think, you know, so I don’t want my experience, though, to discourage anyone also,

and think that like, oh, I didn’t go through this like crazy, too near-death experiences,

and all these mentors and science came into my life. So that’s not my calling, or I’m not being

called, I think we’re being called every single day. And I think we just have to listen. The earth

is always calling out to us with, you know, wisdom, and we just have to listen. So that you just

one thing I would just skirt on that is, you know, it doesn’t have to be this big dramatic thing.

That’s so beautiful. Well, listen, I am so happy you were able to join us. I have this little flag,

we love the bees from my mom’s garden, and I just wanted to give a shout out to her,

and to the Slovenian friends, and friends all around the world who are engaging in this sacred

stewardship and collaboration with bees. And Courtney, thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you. It was such a pleasure to have such a great conversation.

It was fabulous.


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