- Layne Redmond plays at the Kleinert/James Arts Center in Woodstock on May 8.
An unexpected environmental disaster has created a recent buzz: colony collapse disorder. Beehives, and their inhabitants, are vanishing at a staggering rate in the US. With the bees, we also lose our primary source of pollination for many of our fruit, vegetable, and nut crops. Some blame cell phones, others blame mites or viruses. But in his authoritative book, A Spring Without Bees: How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Endangered Our Food Supply, investigative science writer and New Earth Institute founder Michael Schacker produces compelling evidence for the major culprit. A new, but widely used neurotoxic insecticide—imidacloprid—has wiped out nearly 30 percent of our hives. Supersensitive bees are affected by the chemical in the crops they pollinate; olfactory memory is blocked, return-flight instructions are jumbled, and the bees starve within days. Schacker offers up sustainable solutions to what he sees as an eventual global catastrophe; he encourages organic gardening, natural pest control, bee-friendly vegetation, and bee houses (www.PlanBeeCentral.com).
There’s been another unfortunate occurrence: The author, who is a Willow resident, recently suffered a stroke. As often happens in the Woodstock area, individuals have banded together for a benefit. This time it’s legendary frame drummer Layne Redmond and special guest Tommy Be (aka Tommy Brunjes) in “The Path of the Bee Priestess—The Final Oracle.”
Former local Redmond is fresh off a plane from Brazil, where she’s been recording, and she was chosen for this event due to her own obsession with bees. “I’ve been working on a project in which I recorded bees in the hive, and each piece of music is pitched to the frequency of the buzzing,” she says from her Miami home. “This amazing frequency has a beneficial effect on your mind when you’re around it a lot. We pitched all the music to that and have the bees buzzing in big hives or solo in each piece somehow” (www.myspace.com/thebeepriestess). She tells of another project—Invoking Aphrodite—that she recently recorded with a group of Greek frame drummers who brought her to Cyprus to restore the ancient percussive tradition to the birthplace of Aphrodite. The two recordings are two sides of the same coin, she says, as the ancient frame drumming goddesses were also known as bee goddesses, or Melissae.
“I’ve got many students now who are bee keepers and I’ve been hanging around their hives. One of my students has 5,000 hives, as she’s a commercial beekeeper. I just spent five days with her when they were grafting the new queens into the hives. I’ve been studying the development of the queens and their cones, and I’m extremely excited about what I’m understanding between the natural world and why the priestesses were beekeepers.” Redmond has also been participating in apitherapy, in which bees are coaxed into stinging particular meridians and accupressure points on the body to strengthen and enhance the immune system. “It’s very intense,” she says.
In addition to the musical portion of the benefit, Redmond will give a slide lecture on the bees, as well as teach the audience a powerful, yogic humming practice called Bhramari. “It releases anxiety, combats insomnia and depression, and eases childbirth.” Join the queen bee for a magical performance on Friday, May 8, at 8pm at the Kleinert/James Arts Center, 34 Tinker Street, Woodstock. A $20 donation at the door is appreciated. (845) 679-www.woodstockguild.org.