August 18, 2012 is National Honey Bee Day. The world’s honeybee population has been in an alarming decline for the past nearly decade; and continues to decline today. In the mid 2000’s a virus threatened the vibrance of the life of the honeybee; and today Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) presents the greatest challenge yet with its unique set of lethal symptoms. I hold a very deep and growing concern regarding the alarming rate of the honeybees continual disappearance (along with other bees and insects); and the yet inconclusive –or at least ineffective – results of the massive research completed surrounding CCD. One highly regarded author, Michael Schacker, in A Spring Without Bees (2008), suggests we have the answers, for the most part, to their disappearance yet we have been unable, as a society, to accept the evidence which would strongly indicate a critical need to change many of our ways of living. Schacker believes the major culprit to be our increased use of pesticides and our ever-increasing potency of them. His book presents an absolutely alarming, and very well documented collection of the history of their disappearance along with the research efforts and results. He also highlights the role of the EPA and its regulations and practices; as well as the role of major manufacturing companies of the many pesticides we use so freely today. It is clearly a book worthy of one’s time and deepest reflection.
The honeybee pollinates about one third of the food we eat today – including fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Without these foods, our dietary intake would need to change dramatically leaving grave deficiencies. The honeybee truly feeds us through its relentless work as an amazingly intelligent and organized colony. I hope we are, collectively, able to wake up to the alarming cry of the honeybee and see in its disappearance the grandest of requests for us to re-evaluate, with very new eyes, our way of tending our natural world and our changing farming and gardening practices. I believe we can truly no longer afford to make decisions based primarily upon financial gain or ease of labor over the value of a healthy source of nutrition and a balanced, non-toxic and sustainable ecosystem.
The honeybee builds combs that are flat, vertical panels of highly uniform six-sided (hexagonal) cells. Six, is the number of absolute harmony. It is a delight to reflected upon the wonderful mystery of how these seemingly tiny insects hold the intellect to build such precise cells in absolute uniformity and in the form of perfect harmony. This feels to me to be an immense and wondrous gift and inspiration. They clearly point the way toward building harmony – collectively.
The foraging bees return to the hive once finding an excellent source of pollen and nectar. Using the amazing and intricate waggle dance, they share the precise location of this excellent source with the other bees in the hive. I wonder how different our communities might look if we too were to be inspired to share our greatest treasures, as we discover them, with all others in our communities that we might work together to best feed ourselves and nurture others? The honey bees’ sense of authentic partnership and community is richly inspiring. They simply trust the pure nature of sharing in the richest sense of community.
Symbolically, the bee is noted in many traditions as carrying a heavenly import. J.C. Cooper, in the Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols (1978) suggests: “Bees often represent the stars and are also winged messengers carrying news to the spirit world; telling the bees of a death or important event, is to send a message to the next world or the spirits.” Could the bees be communicating with the heavens – the spirit world, indicating we are perhaps well out of balance in our care of the natural world? In the Christian context, the bee hive is symbolic of the church – and in our world today, is the traditional church collapsing in many ways right along with the hives? Have we been blinded to seeing with clear vision the vital essence of both? The Celtics propose the bee represents secret wisdom coming from the other world. Could we perhaps learn much from their habits (secret wisdom) of highly organized partnership, harmony and communication?
Jack Tresidder, in his book 1001 Symbols; suggests that few if any creatures have symbolized more ethical virtues than the bee. “Apart from being associated with many divinities, its industrious habits and social organization were a gift to the writers of homilies. The Christian monastic community was equated with a beehive… The 12th century mystic Bernard of Clairvaux likened the bee to the Holy Spirit.”
In celebration of the National Honey Bee Day event, hoped to bring a growing awareness to the honey bee and its potent gifts for each of us (if we like to eat, that is) Alleman Studios is offering complimentary packing, freight and insurance for the purchase of Nature’s Bounty direct from the studio through the month of August 2012. As always, we will also make a donation from the profits of the sales to one of the many organizations supporting research, education and awareness regarding the honey bee. Nature’s Bounty is a very small, wonderfully beautifully vessel presenting a field of common white clover and a single honey bee. Started in 2009, The National Honey Bee Day’s mission is three-fold: Promotion and advancement of beekeeping; education of the public to honey bees and beekeeping; and continuing to make the public aware of environmental concerns affecting the honey bees (their own kind of waggle dancing).
For more information regarding this event and other honey bee facts visit: www.nationalhoneybee.com