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

A new report spotlights a U.N. estimate that at least 275 million people rely on healthy coral reefs. A sea turtle near the Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef is seen above. THE OCEAN AGENCY / XL CATLIN SEAVIEW SURVEY

By Jessica Corbett

In a new report about how the world's coral reefs face "the combined threats of climate change, pollution, and overfishing" — endangering the future of marine biodiversity — a London-based nonprofit calls for greater global efforts to end the climate crisis and ensure the survival of these vital underwater ecosystems.

Read More
Half of the extracted resources used were sand, clay, gravel and cement, seen above, for building, along with the other minerals that produce fertilizer. Cavan Images / Cavan / Getty Images

The world is using up more and more resources and global recycling is falling. That's the grim takeaway from a new report by the Circle Economy think tank, which found that the world used up more than 110 billion tons, or 100.6 billion metric tons, of natural resources, as Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

Read More
Sponsored

By Gero Rueter

Heating with coal, oil and natural gas accounts for around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. But that's something we can change, says Wolfgang Feist, founder of the Passive House Institute in the western German city of Darmstadt.

Read More
Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016. Markus Spiske / Unsplash

By George Citroner

  • Recent research finds that official government figures may be underestimating drug deaths by half.
  • Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016.
  • Drug use decreases life expectancy after age 15 by 1.4 years for men and by just under 1 year for women, on average.

Government records may be severely underreporting how many Americans die from drug use, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University.

Read More
Water coolers in front of shut-off water fountains at Center School in Stow, MA on Sept. 4, 2019 after elevated levels of PFAS were found in the water. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

In a new nationwide assessment of drinking water systems, the Environmental Working Group found that toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS are far more prevalent than previously thought.

Read More