Quantcast

This Woman Wears 15,000 Bees to Help Others Connect to Nature

It may sound outlandish, but Sara Mapelli dances with thousands of bees on her naked torso to help bring others closer to nature. Known as the Bee Queen, Mapelli is an Oregon-based artist and self-described energy therapist.

The bee dance, which she's been performing for more than a decade, is designed to be "healing" and "meditative," Mapelli told National Geographic in an interview. She hopes to help others get over their fears—including fear of bees—and help people who feel disconnected to nature.

Sara Mapelli performs meditative bee dances to help her clients connect with nature. Photo credit: Sara Mapelli

Bees' communal nature provides a great example of the feeling of interconnectedness that Mapelli wants to share with others. When her clients express feelings of separation or dissatisfaction, one of her solutions as part of her alternative medicine practice is to perform a bee dance.

To attract the bees, she rubs the same pheromone on her chest that a queen bee would give off (Queens use the pheromone to control the hive). Then a beekeeper lifts a frame that contains the hive, and bees begin to swarm her body. The pheromone, given to her by Oregon State University entomologist Michael Burgett, has the potency of what would be given off by a hundred queen bees.

"I’m like a tree with a huge tornado above me that gets smaller and smaller as the bees land," she said, describing how it feels to be swarmed by thousands of bees. "They are so loud; it’s an engulfing, beautiful sound."

Yes, it can be uncomfortable, she said, as up to 15,000 bees swarm her body, and she has been stung many times. But to her, it's all part of the therapy. She even started doing apitherapy, in which she uses bee products, including bee venom, to treat illness.

Mapelli said some people think she's crazy, but, apart from being therapeutic, the practice gives her an opportunity to talk about the important role bees play in pollinating our food and their larger role in the ecosystem. She also educates her clients on how we can protect these crucial pollinators.

Bees' vital role in the environment has been well documented. Bees are the most critical animal to human survival. In fact, Earth’s entire planetary ecology has been shaped by bees. Since they first evolved from wasps some 100 million years ago, bees have driven the evolution of plant life.

And yet, bees are in danger. A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture last year found that the U.S. honeybee population had plummeted by more than 40 percent since the previous year. Dr. David Suzuki and other leading experts have called for a global ban on the class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or neonics, which have been linked to the mass die off in bees. President Obama organized a Pollinator Health Task Force, but many believe the plans for improving pollinator health do not go far enough.

Bees' critical role in our food system has even led some to wonder: If all the bees disappear, would we disappear with them?

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

FDA Bans Three Chemicals Linked to Cancer From Food Packaging

Two Indoor Farm Startups Stand Up to Alaska’s Short Growing Season

Venezuela Bans GMO Crops, Passes One of World’s Most Progressive Seed Laws

Do Detox Diets Really Work?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

New pine trees grow from the forest floor along the North Fork of the Flathead River on the western boundary of Glacier National Park on Sept. 16, 2019 near West Glacier, Montana. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

By Alex Kirby

New forests are an apparently promising way to tackle global heating: the trees absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from human activities. But there's a snag, because permanently lower river flows can be an unintended consequence.

Read More
Household actions lead to changes in collective behavior and are an essential part of social movements. Pixabay / Pexels

By Greg McDermid, Joule A Bergerson, Sheri Madigan

Hidden among all of the troubling environmental headlines from 2019 — and let's face it, there were plenty — was one encouraging sign: the world is waking up to the reality of climate change.

So now what?

Read More
Sponsored
Logging state in the U.S. is seen representing some of the consequences humans will face in the absence of concrete action to stop deforestation, pollution and the climate crisis. Mark Newman / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

Talk is cheap, says the acting executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, who begged governments around the world to make sure that 2020 is not another year of conferences and empty promises, but instead is the year to take decisive action to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and the destruction of habitat-sustaining ecosystems, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
The people of Kiribati have been under pressure to relocate due to sea level rise. A young woman wades through the salty sea water that flooded her way home on Sept. 29, 2015. Jonas Gratzer / LightRocket via Getty Images

Refugees fleeing the impending effects of the climate crisis cannot be forced to return home, according to a new decision by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, as CNN reported. The new decision could open up a massive wave of legal claims by displaced people around the world.

Read More
The first day of the Strike WEF march on Davos on Jan. 18, 2020 near Davos, Switzerland. The activists want climate justice and think the WEF is for the world's richest and political elite only. Kristian Buus / In Pictures via Getty Images

By Ashutosh Pandey

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is returning to the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the 2020 World Economic Forum with a strong and clear message: put an end to the fossil fuel "madness."

Read More