Friday, July 9, 2010

The Lost Bee

Bees are generally unwelcome guests in the home, and I wasn't too happy when a bee buzzed through the open kitchen window one fine day last summer. My first thought, in fact, was: "How am I going to get it out of here?"

It was bumbling around in a confused manner as it lit here and there, as if trying to get a grip and find a resting place. But of course my white kitchen walls are no place for a bee.

I was reminded of what I had read about the bees' "colony collapse" which had been in the news as a topic of much speculation, and it occurred to me that the little buzzer was perhaps a casualty.

This beekeeper makes a convincing case for a new class of pesticides as the culprit in colony collapse:

Hackenberg...began his own investigations into what killed 2,000 of his honeybees at the end of 2006, by talking to growers and reading up on pesticide use and research into their effects on bees. 'It’s those new neonicotinoid pesticides that growers are using,' he says. 'That’s what’s messing up the bees’ navigation system so they can’t find their way home.'""

The article goes on to say that these pesticides act as neurotoxins that "interfere with the bees' communication and orientation skills, and also impair memory." And they are used all over: "...from sunflower fields to apple orchards, lawns to golf courses."

The wandering bee in my kitchen brought all of that "home" to me. I can certainly imagine how distressing it would be for me, and for most of us, if we found ourselves adrift and alone, without any memory of the way home, or any resources to assist us in getting there.

The honeybee is part of a hive; they're not meant to be loners. They are perhaps the ultimate example of cooperative living. This is their nature, and the loss of their bee family and all that goes with it, must be the very definition of "cruel and unusual punishment."

I did manage to coax the bee out the window again. For a while it was hanging around among the plants in my window box, and I was half hoping I had a permanent resident bee in there, but it's long gone now. I pray that it found its way back home.

The incident stayed with me, and started a train of thought about the broader implications and symbolism of the bees' plight. In particular, as a word person, I pondered the connotations of "be" and "being."

"To be or not to be, that is the question," soliloquized Hamlet. It's quite clear, in

context, that he was speaking of the choice between life and death. But in another sense, life and death can be considered a continuum, and it's possible to be alive and breathing, but not really living. How many of us are truly BEING our true selves? How many of us are truly "at home" in the world?

Many, perhaps most of us, are spiritually homeless. Collectively, we've become cut off from our Source, our inner Being--we've forgotten how to "be"--and are bumbling around on a confused and jumbled course. In the deepest sense, we are rootless.

The lost bee, having been toxified, intoxicated, is unable to find its way back to that place of belonging and connectedness with its God-self (Queen Bee) and its industrious fellow bees. And this is the situation we find ourselves in now. It need hardly be said that the pesticides are bad for us, too, and like the poor bees whose keepers trundle them thousands of miles around the country from one pollination job to another, "the world is too much with us," and our way of life is stressful and unnatural. It is time for us to go within and connect with our true BEING. And we can start by opening to thinking and living in new ways. Then we realize that in poisoning and manipulating the bees and other life forms, we are doing the same to ourselves, because of the interconnectedness of all life. We are human, animal, insect, plant, mineral--we are all of it.

As we have been poisoning the natural world, so have we been poisoning and clogging our true natural selves. Maybe now we've learned all we can from this way of life and it's time to leave it behind. Let us, individually and collectively, connect with that Self. Let us learn to work with Nature again, and with our own nature, our inner Being. Let us leave behind our separativeness, and embrace our connectedness.