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The Collapse of the Honey Bees

Half of all the honey bees on the planet have died in recent years.  A startling fact when you consider not only the impact that this has on the food chain and our food supply, but the even deeper metaphor that this represents for our culture.   The disappearance of the bees has been named “Colony Collapse Disorder”  and one well-known bio-dynamic bee keeper featured in the new film by Taggart Siegel,  Queen of the Sun, commented that the bees are actually showing us that this disorder is our own.

After watching the film at the recent Bioneers annual conference, which offers the most progressive analysis and solution orientation to the global environmental crises we face,  I decided to become a bee keeper.  Honey bees are one of the few super-organisms on the planet, which is to say that a hive of tens of thousands of bees sacrifice their individual identities to create a bigger whole. The biology of creating beeswax and honey is nothing short of miraculous..  Pollination is the tireless and miraculous process in which the natural world reproduces and evolves. The honey bee’s tireless efforts are literally the erotic glue that produces over 40% of our food supply. There is not a more sacred act of love that exists on this planet, nor one that we more take for granted.

Losing half of all these creatures should be of concern to everyone on the planet. Everyone should want to become  a bee keeper, because the world that is left without them is not sustainable. Not surprisingly, it is our unsustainable agricultural practices driven by corporate profits that has taken us to this precipice. Monoculture farming of tens of thousands of acres and increasingly poisonous insecticides that now act like a nerve gas on bees is responsible for this worldwide collapse of the bee population. The chemicals destroy the natural homing instinct of the bees. They go out to forage and cannot find their way back to their hives.  Millions of bees are perishing, and hives that are full of food and a queen are deserted.

Corporations are willingly and knowingly destroying the ecosystem in which we live.  Monoculture farms of genetically modified seeds cannot support the ecosystem it needs to flourish, so companies truck in bees from all over the world to do their pollination work for a couple of weeks at a time. Entire hives die, shrink wrapped in plastic in holding yards.   They are given high fructose corn syrup to wake them up, filled with antibiotics that they ingest and pass into their honey.  This is how we are becoming immune to many antibiotics.  The same process which is creating super pests that adapt to our poisons.

Honey, is a singular substance on this planet.  It is the nectar of love, the product of capturing light and life that is transformed within the body of a hive.  Honey that was discovered over two thousand years old in an Egyptian King’s tomb was still edible. So precious was this substance that for the majority of recorded human life it was never sold, only gifted with love. Honey is so replete with nutrients that it is a rare restorative to most every aspect of health.

The plight of the honeybees is our plight. There could not be a more direct natural metaphor for what we are doing with our love.  In much the same way as the bees are lost on their way home, we have also lost our way.  Our unwillingness to do the work, to show up and keep our promises to our family and our community is our form of colony collapse.  Dedicate yourself to learning how to love more, yourself, your intimates, and your enemies is the way home. Also consider becoming a backyard bee keeper.