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Sex Trafficking

20/07/2009

Our relationship with bees goes back a long way. Even before we were homo sapiens we lived together. And as we learned to exert more and more control over our environment we maintained a companionship with bees which has been marked by respect, love and even reverence. The marriage between humans and bees is perhaps closer than that between humans and any other creature on the planet.

But that relationship has become one we have gradually taken for granted. In the past hundred years or so, it has become actively abusive. Now they are just walking out on us.

A lot has been written, now that business is suffering, about the plight of the poor honey bee. Colony Collapse Disorder, CCD, is one of those important sounding, pseudo-scientific terms that doesn’t actually mean very much. We might just as well use the term heartbreak.

Why are bees mysteriously abandoning their hives? Why are they just giving up? Scientists and agriculturalists are scratching their heads and wondering about mite epidemics, chemical pollution, artificial feed, urbanization, mobile phone interference, and anything else, but there seems to be no common cause. In the last three years up to 50% of honey bees in the US and huge numbers in Europe have basically just lost the will to live. They’ve gone out and never come home. Their hives stand empty, like the Mary Celeste. Bees are a highly developed civilization, sensitive to the multiple stresses placed upon them. Perhaps this self-sacrificing of individual bees by flying away to die, is meant to protect the hive from the impact of their own sorrow.

Rudolf Steiner predicted in 1923 that the newly introduced technique of breeding Queen Bees using the larvae of Worker Bees would mean that ‘a century later all breeding of Bees would cease.’ Others have predicted that once bees go, human will follow soon after.

The artificial breeding of Queen Bees is only one of the many ways in which we have interfered with the complex social life of honey bees. In our industrialization of agriculture we have inflicted a long list of indignities upon them. We have been able to do this because we do not see them as partners to be honoured and cared for, but as commodities to service our desires.

Steiner makes the connection very clearly, ‘That which we experience within ourselves only at a time when our hearts develop love is actually the very same thing that is present as a substance in the entire beehive. The whole beehive is permeated with life based on love. In many ways the bees renounce love, and thereby this love develops within the entire beehive.’

‘The bee is more honored than other animals’, he said, ‘not because she labors, but because she labors for others. Indeed, the bee works unceasingly for the common good of the hive, and obeys without question what sometimes appears to be an inequitable hierarchy.’

Our abuse consists of the exploitation of this loving gift for purely selfish pleasure. But no abuse can last forever without ultimately damaging the abuser. Unlike other parts of the ecosystem, the bees do not, lash, sting or burn us. They simply withdraw.

The bee is at the heart of the reproductive cycle, distilling and transmuting the sexual energy of plants. Without bees there would be no garden of paradise. Before pollinators there were no flowers on earth and no fruit or nuts or vegetables.

From small time pimps, hustling our way into the long-term relationship between flowers and their pollinators, we have turned into an organized racket, breeding honey bees as sex workers, transporting them thousands of miles across country in trucks, and renting them out to farmers to pollinate their factories.

Have we industrialized and mechanized and commoditized the soul out of love? What was once about, beauty, sweetness, sensuality is now about the bottom line. In looking for the answer to the problem of CCD perhaps we should be looking not to scientists and businessmen, but to lovers.

Honey Bee

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 20/07/2009 12:17 pm

    As you all probably know Propolis is used by bees as an anti-biotic, anti-bacterial and anti-viral sealant protecting the hive from fungal, bacterial and viral attack..

    If we extract this vital protecitve substance from honey-bee hives for our own use in the treatment of human respiratory ailments it is natural to assume that there willl be a significant disruption to the immuneological system of the hive, leaving it more vulnerable to disease and infestation.

    How do bee-keepers balance the demand for propolis humans and bees consumers?

    There is a noticable increase in the number of propolis products on the market at the moment and this coincides with a period in which the bees themselves might need their propolis even more due to tthe stresses caused by climate change, insecticide use, gm products, loss of habitat and electro-magnetic disruption.

    Any bee-keepers out there? Any thoughts on this connection? (I have not seen mention of this anywhere.)

  2. 23/07/2009 12:11 pm

    On propolis: Most beekeepers don’t bother with it. For the big industrial beekeepers, harvesting propolis is not really high priority, so I doubt it is the primary cause – but I am sure it is part of the problem. I think the cause of CCD is blindingly obvious – we harvest the bees to death.

    Some discoveries from my recent research into the bee:

    As Ansuman has written above, the queen rearing process is nasty. Every two years, beekeepers cull their queens, replacing them with an new, battery farmed model. This means all sorts of things – the bee bloodlines become week, the hives loose their identity, and emergency queens (as all battery queens are) may just not be quite the same as the real thing.

    The drone (male) population of a hive is kept artificially low. Feral colonies have about 20% males, factory hives keep drones to about 5%. Drones just sit around and are only useful for mating. Well, maybe. Bee hives tend to be calmer if there are more of them around. The reliance on emergency queens is growing because the queens just cant mate well enough. Maybe they have a use after all?

    Oh, man, the details go on and on. Bees collect pollen from millions of flowers and bring it back to one small place. Even a tiny bit of pesticide gets massively concentrated. Mixing these chemicals does all sorts of “wonderful” things. Many pesticides also happen to contain the active ingredients used to deal with bee diseases – sometimes in just the right quantity to help the pests breed resistance.

    The best possible solution is to decentralise beekeeping. Get a hive. Get one for your neighbours and your family. They don’t need to be expensive. Have a look at http://biobees.com, build a simple top-bar hive and find some bees. If we all do it, we can save the bees.

  3. Suzanne permalink
    23/07/2009 1:43 pm

    Let them Bee!!

    Hi Greenman

    Its scary how much we are interfering and tampering with nature – I had no idea about the artificial cultivating and culling of bees. What else don’t I know?

    Bees are such clever insects, with teamworking skills we could all learn from.

    What I like most about your post is that you offer a solution. I often feel overwhelmed by the destruction of our planet and feel that I can make little difference when muti-nationals and whole countries are pillaging the world for the short term gain.

    Maybe when we lose Ansuman from the tower here at the museum we can replace him with some of your beehives. We have more than enough outside roofspaces where they would be safe and protected.

    Suzanne

  4. 24/07/2009 9:21 am

    Hi Greenman,
    Your the American herbalist that came back to Dartington to teach us about herbs, right? Hello…. and
    thanks for your informative response and really positive solution to save the bees.

    I really love the idea of roof top beehives Suzanne. If Manchester Museum gets bees why not Tate Modern, Arnolfini and Westminster !

    I’d like to share the article in the link below re propolis and bees I was sent me this morning.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8152000/8152574.stm

    Seems like scientists are now realising that bees and ants may be up to something when they collect resin and it is not soley to do with construction. Who would have guessed…!!

  5. 29/07/2009 12:12 pm

    Not that I’m swinging one way or t’other here, but I’ve always felt that surely as man is made of nature, then anything humankind does thereafter should be categorised as ‘natural’. This doesn’t necessarily make an action right – I’m just saying…nothing man can do can ever be ‘unnatural’…

  6. 30/07/2009 2:39 pm

    I don’t think the monogamy having such long history.
    Observing human behaviour, I found the man’s
    ancestor having same harlem system like chimps.
    Monogamy started only when who inherit the skill
    and tool or the agricultural land became the matter.
    The father needed to know who is his real son.

    But to the mother, any baby is her baby, the
    stronger the baby is the better, regardless who
    is the father. In order to strain this tendency all
    sorts of trick has been invented from female
    circumcision to awesome religious ceremony.

  7. 26/11/2014 1:22 pm

    Just for the sake of accuracy, Steiner was actually talking about artificial insemination of queens when he made that point. Bees raise their queens from eggs that would otherwise become sterile workers if it were not for the additional feeding of ‘royal jelly’, which is a rare example in nature of a substance capable of promoting the development of a fertile, laying mother. Beekeepers are able to create conditions in the hive where bees will raise new queens, and sometimes it is necessary to replace a queen due to a number of possible causes, including the development of a malevolent temperament, which is generally unwelcome in urban areas. I actively discourage the routine replacement of queens, preferring such decisions to be made by the bees themselves.

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