BEing Happiness: Bee a Friend with Pollinators

“…To have a friend is to be one,” Ralph Waldo Emerson said.

That famous quote was embroidered by my grandmother and placed as art upon my bedroom wall as a young child, complete with a bee, to emphasize the action of be-ing. What I didn’t realize then was that the bee would become an active presence in my life, a symbol of several significant things, including happiness. It even became recognized as a teacher. It has most definitely been a friend, even when one honeybee stung me, as it was later understood as an important reminder to speak my truth.

In second grade I was walking with a neighbor and fellow student home from school. He verbally teased me, prompting me to make an involuntary buzzing sound through my teeth out of frustration. That sound prompted a nickname bestowal of “Buzzbee,” or “Buzzbee Boyer,” that followed me throughout my life. At first it was an annoyance, but over time the brand became an emblem of industry, or industriousness—not a “busy bee” or busyness, as busyness was not the same as purpose. I appreciated having an ensign of productivity by association. Being a “purposeful person,” as my mother has deemed me as, seemed synonymous with the essence of the bee.

“Bee” by James Barker of freedigitalphotos.net; used with permission.

As a teen I had braces to enhance my smile. On one visit to have my braces tightened by the orthodontist, a bee hitched a ride in my hair from outdoors to inside the office. As soon as I entered the patient room from the waiting room, the bee stung me, right on front of my throat. As we know, the skin on the front of the neck and throat is quite thin and sensitive, so one could imagine how much that once-in-a-lifetime (so far) bee sting hurt! After that “pay attention” moment, the bee took off flying in the room, leaving behind its stinger in my throat. The dental assistants comically ran for their lives, until I reminded them that the bee lost its stinger in my neck and was no longer a “threat.” I gleaned the stinger with the help of a mirror and tweezers that one of the assistants gingerly handed me. Ironically, the orthodontist was far more painful than my little bee friend.

Years later, when Herbalism—the study and engaged art of partnering supportive herbs with beings—became a mindful awakening, pollination and pollinators became forefront in the quest for conscious gardening and sustainability. The purpose-full bee was again a reminder, a symbol. Herbalists and Herbal educators had been promoting the importance of preserving pollinators, with a whirlwind of articles on the why and how-to. According to one source, “Eighty percent of all pollination is biotic, meaning carried out by animals.” Another source quotes, “These hard-working animals help pollinate over 75% of our flowering plants, and nearly 75% of our crops.” A minimum of three-fourths of pollination is animal produced.

So as an herbalism community, how can we help preserve these animals, these important and industrious pollinators? Veteran Herbalist, Deb Soule, writing for the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association/MOFGA taught, “The more diverse the garden and surrounding fields and woods, the more diverse the species of pollinators. Even small, urban gardens and container gardens on decks can provide food for local pollinators.” Diversity is key. Not only is food as medicine, but also life-sustaining, including for pollinators. We can provide that support through our own gardens, as well as supporting mindful gardeners, beekeepers and organic herbal producers.

In her same article, Deb provides an extensive list of herbs that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, including Bee-balm or Monarda fistulosa, also known as Wild Bergamot, and begins her story with Calendula, a bee slumber spot of sorts, and my first friend in the study of Herbalism. Bees indeed deserve to take a nap, as they are known as a “champion pollinator,” along with birds, including the hummingbird, butterflies, and even bats.

With the bounty from herbs that we grow ourselves and that others we support who grow, we can make a myriad of food and products that support self-healing and sustainability. As we choose these herbs that support a diverse garden for pollinators, we can also be a friend and have many friends, while helping heal the planet and all her purposeful creatures in a community of care.


The heart of Botaniscape™ and budding Herbalist, Lori McClellan sees the Art of Herbalism as her lifelong connection to Nature manifested most fully—another exciting medium and source of abundant joy. An Author, Artist and Poet, creating as Loretta Boyer McClellan, her works as a writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry; conscious PR, brand, graphic design, and communications; and as an Arts instructor, journalist and artist, “sized the canvas,” so to speak, for a fruitful life of expression, connection and inspiration. Author of The Nature of BEing: A Healing Journey, The Misthaven of Maine Series, and Dodging Raindrops: Poems and Prose of Beauty, Peace and Healing, Lori creates from a place of Oneness. Writing, meditating, painting, and her relationship with Nature and all beings, most tangibly through Herbalism, are her connection to the Infinite. 

Japan’s Gifts of Herbalism Adventure

On a recent and very first trip to Japan, my number one objective for a souvenir was procuring a suribachi, a Japanese style mortar and pestle, suggested by Rosalee De La Forêt in her herbal-doubling-as-a-cookbook, Alchemy of Herbs, as one she liked. I love Japan, its people and especially its design aesthetic, so the book prompt immediately intrigued me. Since most of my family has lived there, one was born and raised there, and all speak the language fluently (I’m learning it), ties to the Land of the Rising Sun are strong.

The mortar and pestle is used to grind herbs. I could have purchased a very nice suribachi online; however, since I was going to be visiting Nihon, I wanted the tool to come with an adventure!

Visiting southern Japan in Fukuoka, I happened upon a kitchenware store. Numerous pots and pans and other gadgets adorned the shelves. Practical. Useful. Chef’s tools. So I asked the lady at the counter and sure enough, they had several suribachi to choose from. She prefaced her guidance to the right department, stating that suribachi are a very old method and not used that often, yet they had so very many in stock, right in front of the store entrance. I was given instruction on how to clean them, as the grooves tend to need a toothpick for finishing touches. Not low maintenance? I knew it and yet, it did not deter me. I was on a quest. My first Herbalism quest. And I was successful!

First the bowls, or mortar, then the very special pestles were displayed. I was sold the minute I saw the little tree branches that served as a pestle. They still had the bark on them! Other than some shaping on either end, they served as a perfect example of great Japanese design that honors nature. In this instance it was not just a nod, but nature herself. The pristine white mortar coupled with the branch-like pestle reminded me of the barren, ethereal trees in winter on Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan across from Siberia, where abundant snow is called yuki (雪)…

Fuki, or Giant butterbur.

…which is not to be confused with fuki, or Petasites japonicus, also known as butterbur, giant butterbur, great butterbur, Japanese sweet coltsfoot and bog rhubarb, among others. It is in the Asteraceae family, one of, if not the largest, with 1,620 genera and 23,600 species according to one source, and 483 genera and 4653 taxa by another. Also known for my good friends, Daisy and Marigold (Calendula officinalis), this member of the Asteraceae family grows prolifically on Hokkaido, seen  along roadsides and especially near boggy soil or bodies of water. On my travels I kept seeing this giant, primordial-looking plant. I knew I had to investigate. On a riverside hike I saw a very large area growing this plant in abundance. I fully expected a brontosaurus or other dinosaur to emerge, chomping on the massive herb, wondering why I had happened upon its mealtime. At a maximum span of five feet across, I believe fuki could indeed match size for size with the appetite of a hefty dino.

According to many articles and databases on the herb, much is not fully understood on the plant’s toxicity, despite being promoted as a culinary herb or vegetable in Japan and its historic use in both Western Herbalism and in the East as medicinal, particularly as an analgesic. I look forward to further discovery.


The heart of Botaniscape™ and budding Herbalist, Lori McClellan sees the Art of Herbalism as her lifelong connection to Nature manifested most fully—another exciting medium and source of abundant joy. An Author, Artist and Poet, creating as Loretta Boyer McClellan, her works as a writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry; conscious PR, brand, graphic design, and communications; and as an Arts instructor, journalist and artist, “sized the canvas,” so to speak, for a fruitful life of expression, connection and inspiration. Author of The Nature of BEing: A Healing Journey, The Misthaven of Maine Series, and Dodging Raindrops: Poems and Prose of Beauty, Peace and Healing, Lori creates from a place of pure love and devotion. Writing, meditating, painting, and her relationship with Nature and all beings, most tangibly through Herbalism, are her connection to the Infinite. 

Calendula: My First Friend in Herbalism

When we listen with intention, we learn. When we open our hearts to teaching moments, we receive glad tidings in the form of wisdom and growth. Sometimes the teacher is Nature herself, abundantly packaged as a cheerful orange-yellow flower.

My first friend in Herbalism was Calendula (Calendula officinalis).  Such a sunny disposition, I immediately felt all-smiles and relief just investigating all her wondrous properties of self-healing. At first meeting, we were not reserved or formal; it was an immediate and close embrace, like we’d known each other for decades, related even. The reality is that we indeed were already acquainted; we met previously on many occasions during my childhood in California. I knew her then as Pot Marigold. How I’d missed her!

As an artist, color is ever-present in outlook. The radiant hue of the sun has been a recurring one throughout my life. I’ve found myself drawn to it energetically on numerous occasions, so it was no surprise that a vital, comprehensive color in my personal palette enveloped my first foray into Herbalism. Love was the motivation. Calendula led the way.

When a loved one is in need, it’s such a wonderful blessing to be able to serve them with the kindness of enriching, supportive herbs. One particular opportunity came through nourishing, self-healing salves.

My first batch of salve was made using solar-infused, organic extra virgin olive oil with organic Calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis), natural beeswax, and organic Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia). I turned to Rosemary Gladstar’s tried and true recipe from her book, Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide (page 115) to get me started.

As Rosemary often says in her media that she does, and that she also encourages, I made the recipe my own. Since this initial batch I have continued to expand on different herb, oil, and essential oil combinations, as well as methods of preparation and presentation, so that the world of salve-making has become an important lesson in following intuition.

Interesting thing, intuition is.  As soon I began this inaugural voyage in Calendula salve making, I felt prompted to contact Rosemary Gladstar and thank her for all of her pioneering contributions to Herbalism and Herbalism Education. I was (and am) truly grateful and felt compelled to write her a note via email. A week or so later I received a personal reply from the Mother of Modern Herbalism herself. As one would imagine, this happy surprise made my day an even brighter shade of marigold!


The heart of Botaniscape™ and budding Herbalist, Lori McClellan sees the Art of Herbalism as her lifelong connection to Nature manifested most fully—another exciting medium and source of abundant joy. An Author, Artist and Poet, creating as Loretta Boyer McClellan, her works as a writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry; conscious PR, brand, graphic design, and communications; and as an Arts instructor, journalist and artist, “sized the canvas,” so to speak, for a fruitful life of expression, connection and inspiration. Author of The Nature of BEing: A Healing Journey, The Misthaven of Maine Series, and Dodging Raindrops: Poems and Prose of Beauty, Peace and Healing, Lori creates from a place of pure love and devotion. Writing, meditating, painting, and her relationship with Nature and all beings, most tangibly through Herbalism, are her connection to the Infinite.