So Much to Do! How Do the Bees Do It?

As I am trying to recover from a crazy month of Holiday madness I find myself facing the feeling I am oftentimes overwhelmed. Divorce, moving things in and out of the home, work, animals, financial obligations, yada yada yada; all seem like so much yet the Honeybee can successfully accomplish all these same scenarios in her own little  world without blinking and eye.

I'm fascinated at their ability to be so structured and focused. It seems to be a feat that eludes us as humans so I reflect, observe, and try to resonate with the Honeybee hoping to gain some insight and wisdom on this journey of life.

What do they do differently? They implement structure and democracy.

Structure is oftentimes my nemesis. I know it is a foreign concept to many of us but without it we fail. The honeybee proves that over and over again. We do well in our work environment where structure is implemented then we go home to our chaos. We eat wrong, fail to exercise or properly or  rest and we wonder why we feel so frustrated and unfulfilled. It warrants paying closer attention to the honeybee and the hive itself. They succeed without us.

So what does that structure look like? We already know there is a Queen, workers, nurses or maidens, guardians, foragers and drones. We know they all have a role to play at certain stages of their existence, but what else do we know?

They're naturally democratic. They've been shaped that way by evolution.  Honeybees make decisions collectively and democratically. They stake everything on a process that uses collective fact finding, debate, and finally consensus building. For example: when the hive is overpopulated the Scout bees break off and start looking for relocation options. They are somewhat like a "Senate". They're older, more experienced bees searching for the best place for their colony preparing to split to make their new home.

Dancing is their announcement. The honeybee scouts use dancing to announce their discoveries. Using their "waggle dance", a figure that gives bee directions, the scouts will communicate how to fly to the other sites to  check for themselves before deciding which location will be their new home. If the first choice is mediocre a second wave of  bees will do a ho-hum dance. If the location is spectacular they bees will do a mega party dance so the other bees will know where to go. They use dancing to show their numbers in deciding on the perfect spot. They vote by dancing themselves into consensus. If a honeybee or a few honeybees don't like the location they protest but eventually reabsorb into the hive to function collectively with the group for the greater good of the hive.

Honeybees democracy has been studied for years by Tom Seeley, the author of Honeybee Democracy
and refers to the honeybees absorption into the hive without further protest as "forgetting" in bees. He doesn't necessarily care for this genetic "forgetting" but he does touch on it's obvious advantages. He compares the bee to eminent scientists who many times hang on to bad ideas till they die.

 He writes:

One difference between aged scientists and aged (bee) scouts, though, is that the people tend to drop out of the debate reluctantly, sometimes not until death, whereas the bees do so automatically.  I cannot help but wonder whether science would progress more rapidly if, in this regard, people behaved a bit more like bees.

I would love to see us behave a bit more like bees by working closer together but I also want to have our diversity of thought, our hero's, our pioneers in society and our freedoms to be a part of the community while standing for our individual beliefs.

So as I practice beekeeping I learn they are more complex than I ever thought and what seems to be such a simple community really isn't. They are a society, a super organism working off of group thought and that's how they get it done. They ALL concede to ensure the hive remains viable and take any action necessary to survive. I think I resonate with the "survival" aspect of them. I'm sure most of us do too. We need to focus on a healthier society of people in general. We need to discuss more, fight less and continue to work together for humanity. After all, we are supposed to be the superior species.


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