Apples and Bees

One of the Hafskjold family's main sources of income for many years was the growing of apples. Our home valley is known as "The Land of Apple Trees", and apple trees are indeed everywhere. As is necessary for any large orchard, we also kept bees, which gave us the by-products of honey and beeswax. Apples and bees have also shaped our understanding of Stav. Cider vinegar is the basis for our use of herbal medicine; we use the vinegar as a medium in which to steep herbs, while also regarding the vinegar itself as medicinal. Honey is also used, both to flavour the vinegar for drinking, and also as a very efficient antiseptic.

By observing the interaction between the apple trees and the bees, one learns to understand the interdependence of all things in nature, and not to upset the fine balance that exists between different species. Without the bees, apples could not be grown, and without the apple trees, the bees would find it difficult to survive in a country with a short flowering season. Wasps are another part of the equation; they kill a lot of insects that are harmful to the trees in spring and summer, and feed on rotting apples in autumn. Big, commercial orchards have changed the way apples are produced, and not for the better. They tend to grow a very limited range of apples, which encourages diseases. Supermarkets, where most apples are sold, will only buy apples without blemishes. Therefore, commercial growers have to use a wide range of herbicides and pesticides, which unfortunately also affect the bees, and may well be one of the reasons for the collapse in beehives worldwide.

But to return to apples, bees and Stav. Cut an apple in half horizontally, and you will find five apple pits. This was used to teach children that the five classes or personalities are necessary for a balanced society to prosper. Look at a honey comb, and you will find that it is made up of interconnected hexagons. If you draw lines from each "corner" of a hexagon to the opposite "corner", you will find a Hagl rune. As a hexagon is the most stable structure possible, you will understand that the Stav web is a representation of the building blocks for the entire Universe. Working with bees, you also learn that you need to move slowly and deliberately in order not to upset them, with your mind completely focused; beekeeping is a great way to practice Martial Arts. Students of Stav will do well to meditate upon apple trees and bees.

Written by Ivar Hafskjold at Heimbu the 3rd of July 2009

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