ago, my spouse announced that he wanted to go into
beekeeping. Its hard to believe now how adamantly
opposed I was to this idea. I certainly wished bees no
harm, but to intentionally invite them into our own
backyard? Fortunately, he prevailed, and before long I
was completely won over by these gentle little winged
creatures. Fear evaporated as I became familiar with
their non-aggressive nature, and their meticulous
attention to the tasks of gathering pollen and nectar,
and caring for their queen, their young, and their hive.
Our garden benefited from their dependable pollination,
our kitchen was supplied with lovely honey, and we
discovered the pleasures of watching the members of this
complex society busily engaged in their work.
We love our
bees. We cherish them. They provide for us, and we do
our best to return the favor by caring for them in the
increasingly stressful world they inhabit. In the 1950s
and 60s, honeybee populations were dramatically reduced
by careless use of pesticides. In the 1990s, bees were
hit with infestations of mites. Conventional beekeepers
treated mite problems with pesticides, which worked
until the mites developed resistance, but also appeared
to damage bees immune systems. Colony Collapse Disorder
(CCD) is a recent phenomenon, in which all or most of
the bees in a colony leave the hive and don't return.
Possible causes include exposure to insecticides while
foraging, malnutrition, pathogens, and lack of genetic
diversity of bees. Its encouraging to note that organic
beekeepers, who use alternative methods of mite control,
and who try to locate their beehives in non-sprayed
areas, do not seem to be hit by CCD.
cherished bees, flying out and never returning. We don't
know why they die out in the field. Do the stresses
mentioned above disorient them so that they never make
it back to the hive? The same factors that are
collapsing bee colonies are impacting us. We, too, are
dying. That endless, intimate journey to find our own
true sources of sustenance beckons to us, calling us to
the source, to home, to life.
All Paths Lead to Home (detail).