It seems a parallel exists between bees, bee yards, and Political Elections. The ebb and flow, rhythm, and normal fluctuations all fall within the big picture.
Beekeepers accept the growth of the bee yard during the spring. Things expand on their own with little or no help from the beekeeper. Most beekeepers assign that expansion a positive value but, in fact it’s neither positive nor negative – it’s just a direction. In the autumn there is a corresponding reduction of colonies and things change, again neither good nor bad – just change. Beekeepers learn over the years that flux is the norm and without the connotations our beliefs wish to assign to individual events. It is what it is, we merge with the changes – or we don’t and become angst ridden. But how do we get to an acceptance of the flux? One way I have learned to adapt to the flux is by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture.
Some colonies thrive for a season and then unexpectedly go out with a mighty thud. Other never build up. Still others chug along fully average in every way. But regardless, all can expect to come and go with time. Another example is the notes I write on the tops of my hives. After some time passes my notes become meaningless. Sometimes I look at those notes and try to remember the urgency that inspired my note written last season. In the bigger picture of the bee yard, after the bees swarm and the new queen comes in with her genetics it’s only a short time before the bees of the former queen are gone having been replaced by a new queen and her offspring. A new queen brings her genetics yet in the big picture things simply continue. And so it goes on every organizational level. Changes take place in the bee yard with hives being moved, replaced, swarms captured, queens failing. It’s all birth, change, flux, and impermanence. That’s okay, it works out, the bees offer us the opportunity to learn to enjoy the variations within the journey.
Reading the book, The Buzz about Bees – Biology of a Superorganism by Jürgen Tautz, I am reminded that the changes above are both disruptive as well as beneficial to the species. The biological makeup changes and the fate of the species is strengthened by these disruptive events. However to see this as beneficial we must back up and look at what’s happening from a long term point of view. Short term we only see disruption, possible loss of a honey crop, colony, or other inconvenient situation for the bees and beekeeper. Taking the long term view however, we see that flux is key to a balancing taking place in the colony, the bee yard, and even the species itself.
Beekeepers are slow people; I mean that in a good way. We patiently look to spring, then we make plans for summer dearth, then fall nectar flows, and then we prepare for winter. We are both methodical and boring. While mostly dull, we are also reassured that all is as it should be and we remain excited with each predictable change of the season. We learn that change and disruption is normal, even beneficial, and not to be feared. It’s only disruptive in the short term but not if we consider the long term. How could it be otherwise?
So, the colony has been disrupted. The big picture is it’s seeking balance again – be patient! It’s neither good nor bad – it’s just what is. As we often say, “we do our part and the bees will work it out if we let them.” Maybe not today, nor tomorrow; maybe not this week or this month. If we are patient, in time we’ll see change that pleases us the bee yard next year. For now though, maybe we can sit down and think things through and come up with a plan to help things along next season. Regardless, the big picture is so much larger than we are that we struggle to fully see how change is beneficial to seeking balance. As humans in an inpatient world we struggle with concepts of time, change, and balance. Don’t be alarmed; everything in this world is subject to disruptions and change yet always seeks balance.
I like this approach. In the beginning I got up every morning, worried that the bees would be gone. Now, five years later, I let the bees…be, providing water, protective shelter, and bee friendly plants for short distance foraging. I may differ from other beekeepers in that I have given away five swarms and I don’t sell the honey. I just want to gives bees a chance to survive. I appreciate your insights.
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Thanks for the comment. It is amazing how we too evolve in response to our contact with the bees.
what a great post – i love the parallels
Great stuff – ideas to ponder.
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