The epic agricultural awareness film Vanishing of the Bees took the environmental world by storm in 2009 when it introduced us to the reasons bee colonies are collapsing, the epic consequences this has on our food supply, and the ways that compassionate human beings are turning this crisis around.
One half of the directorial team behind this Award-Winning documentary is journalist Maryam Henein, who went on to co-found HoneyColony in 2011 in response to this crisis. Maryam also had another goal in mind for this combination health & wellness store and free online magazine: she wanted to empower people to take charge of their own health.
Her path to becoming a wellness advocate began with a series of escalating health crises of her own. These eventually led her to a deep exploration of naturopathic remedies, and to a new outlook powered by the sharing spirit she observed in the cooperative nature of the bees who befriended her.
Struggling for Solutions
In 2002 the Canadian native was enjoying a blossoming career as a freelance journalist and TV producer in LA. One evening while traversing a crosswalk in West Hollywood, she was hit by a Ford Explorer traveling at 30 miles per hour, and dragged 49 feet. The physical injuries she sustained were extensive, and included a fractured left femur, torn rotator cuff, a smashed vertebrae, and several broken ribs.1
The psychological impact was just as debilitating.
“When I got hit, my world was turned upside down. I experienced one medical mishap after the other,” Maryam reflects.
Doctors worked on her bones, but didn’t address the root cause of her growing list of health problems. After they put a 14-inch titanium rod in her left femur, she developed delayed unionized bone, a condition in which the break takes longer than usual to fuse, along with pneumonia, chronic pain from the rod, post-traumatic stress disorder, an orange-sized ovarian cyst, and insomnia.
Maryam says she used her yoga practice to learn to walk again because she was never prescribed physical therapy. After a year of convalescing on a traditional Western medical plan, she’d had enough. She made the decision to take matters into her own hands and find out the story behind the story of how to restore her health.
Path to Empowerment
As she relates in her book Become Your Own Best Health Advocate, “It was through my own resourcefulness, sleuthing, and firsthand experience that I learned about adrenal fatigue, cortisol levels, candida, cleanses, the perils of wheat, sugar and dairy, insomnia, gluten free eating, screwy hormone levels, the benefits of natural progesterone, superfoods, neurotransmitters, and much, much more.”2
While she was tackling this learning curve, a series of synchronicities helped her understand that she was on the right path.
“I put the intention to do something bigger than me and it was like a seed. I got a job to work for Robert Greenwald and the Sierra Club and that was a step in the right direction. A nod from the universe. But it was only later that the Bees flew in.”
A Buzzworthy Cause
The bees didn’t only come flying into her world figuratively. “I actually had bee visitations,” recalls Maryam, “and told myself that I just have to follow the arrows.”
The first such incident occurred shortly after a 2007 conversation with her friend George Langworthy. He had outlined for her the puzzling phenomenon of how bee populations were rapidly disappearing. As many of us might do, Maryam simply tucked this tidbit of information away to the back of her mind.
But the bees were having none of it.
Within days of her first learning about their plight, they began showing up in her life. First she found herself strolling through a swarm of them. Next, they took over her yoga studio. Other incidents followed, and Maryam quickly got the hint that she needed to pay attention to the signs the Universe was trying to send her.
As she began investigating the reasons behind the losses that George had spoken of, she learned that systemic pesticides – those that uptake into the plant tissues vs. just staying on the surface – are linked to bee colony collapse. The two friends soon combined their extensive research for a co-directorial collaboration. Vanishing of the Bees garnered critical acclaim, with HuffPost naming it “one of twelve most mind-blowing movies you can stream on Netflix.”
The film went on to receive a nomination for Best Documentary at the Milan International Film Festival, as well as Official Selection at the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, and the International Wildlife Film Festival.
Just as bees cooperate to make their hive thrive, Maryam was now in the flow of cooperating with the Universe to help raise awareness about their plight.
Yet she’d soon face another daunting challenge, one that would ultimately springboard her into launching a wellness revolution for those facing chronic illness.
Learning to Fly Above It All
Nearly 10 years after getting hit by the Ford Explorer, she was in the Dominican Republic getting ready to attend an environmental film festival showcasing the documentary. As she approached a man who was holding what she thought was a leafblower, she noticed that he had on a pack and a respirator.
Just then the wind picked up, and she was inadvertently sprayed with the pesticide he was using to fumigate the mosquitoes.
Her health quickly took a turn for the worse. She was diagnosed with two autoimmune conditions: fibromyalgia and lupus. Just as in 2002, she was prescribed medications that she felt would only ease the symptoms, while causing possible negative side effects. This time around she refused to take them.
Instead she took a lesson from her past healthcare rollercoaster ride and immediately consulted her naturopath. She’d already connected the dots between the incident in the Dominican Republic and her latest diagnosis. Subsequent tests proved that she was right, and that the high levels of toxins present in her tissues had lowered her immune system’s ability to function properly.
Rather than allow this new piece of information to knock her down, she decided to stand up strong. She focused on exploring the adverse effects chemicals can have on the human body, as well as on finding natural ways to detoxify from them. She found out that, just like with bees, humans are being negatively affected by chemical cocktails found in our fruits and vegetables.
As she outlines in 3 Tools to Conquer an Autoimmune Disorder, proper diet, along with glutathione and low-dose naltrexone (LDN), all combine to aid the detoxification process and create an immune-boosting environment in the body. This in turn helps to send autoimmune conditions into remission.
Maryam says she’d learned from her previous experiences that the power to shift her health was in her own hands.
“Your thoughts alone have the power to exacerbate or alleviate symptoms…the key thought to straighten out is that your body is not the enemy but your ally.”3
The Bees Knees of Health
Her extensive self-healing studies, personal challenges, and determination to assist others struggling with autoimmune and other chronic conditions has led her, along with co-founder Jan Wellmann, to gather together a line of naturopathic products aimed at accelerating the healing process. HoneyColony is more than just a health store; it’s a labor of love born of Maryam’s steely determination to use her hard-earned wisdom to help others thrive.
Nutritional experts, health conscious people, and high quality products help form a humming hive of health at HoneyColony. It’s an interactive experience in which people can gather to learn, share, and participate in a holistic approach to wellness. Their mission of putting honesty into our food supply is demonstrated through a fair trade and community-accelerating approach that puts people above profits.
When I asked her how the process of following the Universe’s guidance helped her heal, Maryam had this sage advice, “It’s not what happens to you but what you do with those things. I was initially very angry at the man who hit me. At the universe. Why did I need to get slapped so hard? Now I see it was all part of my initiation.
“I have faith. And I have purpose. But I didn’t always have patience. I feel if you can befriend your condition and use it as opportunity to grow and learn. And to realize there’s no point in holding on to anger. Anger eats you up.
“Of course, this is a process and a journey.”
If you’d like more information for your own self-care journey, you can check out Maryam’s free e-book ‘Become Your Own Best Health Advocate’. In it, you’ll find links to important health screenings and homeopathic options to help you manage your wellness.
Interested in more personalized assistance with your autoimmune condition or managing your dietary plan? Maryam is available to provide Individualized Health Education Consults*.
Facts About Bees
- Bees pollinate up to a third of our food supply and more than $15 billion a year in U.S. crops.
- Planting bee-friendly plants like rosemary and lavender is a great way to help bees start to thrive again.
- Retailers such as Lowes and Home Depot have agreed to phase out bee-killing pesticides.
- To find out more and Sign the Petition to help save the bees, you can visit TakePart.com and #SaveOurBees.
*Some links in this article are Enlightenment for Schmucks affiliate links.
1Weiss, Jamie E. “The Heart Behind the Hive.” HoneyColony. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 July 2015.
2Henein, Maryam. Become Your Own Best Health Advocate. N.p.: Author, 2016. page 9.
3Ibid., pages 22,24.