Monday, September 08, 2008

Could the end of the Honeybee be the end of Us?

For several years now there have been reports of dramatic declines in honeybee populations around the world. There is even a name now for the phenomenon. It is called Colony Collapse Disorder. Entire colonies of bees have mysteriously disappeared, leaving the developing bees to die, and caches of honey and pollen to rot. There is a lot of speculation to what is causing this, but no consensus yet. When I hear about such things happening, it concerns me deeply. It drives me learn more about the creature (or culture) that is threatened so catastrophically that its very existence hangs in the balance.

In the case of the honeybee, I have not only read about its biological history, I have also explored its history with humanity It is a long and fascinating story, which I never knew about and I suspect many people don't know of. Though, due to the honeybee's situation perhaps, many of us are starting to learn bit by bit. I also look to nature as a teacher and guide, and in exploring the honeybee, I have also learned more about what the honeybee can teach me.

One of the first things I noticed about the honeybee is how organized it is. It works and lives in a very efficient community, where all members have a role and work toward a common goal. In folklore and spiritual traditions around the world, the honeybee represents community and organization. In reflecting on this, and the decline of the honeybee, and the condition of Colony Collapse Disorder, I can't help but look at this as a symbol of the human community as a whole. Could the honeybee be telling us to watch out? Perhaps it is time to take a good hard look at the communities, both large and small, around us and evaluate their well-being. I suspect that they need help and, since each of us are in some way a part of many communities of one kind or another, we need to get organized and participate in healing them. Perhaps, in the process of healing our own communities we may end up helping out the honeybees who are in need of aid. I think nature can teach in both directions. And, after all, humans really are not separate from the honeybee at all, we are both part of the great community of life that exists on earth.

I will share more about the fascinating honeybee in the next few posts. If you find this interesting and would like to learn more about the honeybee and other teachings from nature, please consider donating to DoAn Art. I am currently raising money to attend a residency at the Vermont Studio Center where I can synthesize this kind of information into artwork to share with society. It is my hope that by sharing my teachings and paintings from nature, I might help inspire others to seek ways to make our world and all the beings on it a beautiful place to live.

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