Year two of beekeeping is now well underway as are the lessons. These bees have so much to offer, not just the products of the hive but in their everyday lessons.
One of the many surprises of this journey for me has been the friendship of my beekeeping partner Paula. When the idea of keeping bees got inside me I didn’t know how physically demanding the work would be. As it turns out, I could not do this without Paula, physically or emotionally. I am thankful each and every day that Paula is on this journey with me. Our partnership is perfect in every way and perhaps for me, it is the lessons of the bees that have allowed me to collaborate in this endeavor.
I am a go at it alone kind-a-gal. I like to be in complete control of my every breath, especially at work. I am not a team player. I never liked group projects at school. In the kitchen, stay clear please. I don’t want anything other than my own efforts to impact the outcome of anything. I am not particularly proud of this characteristic but it is somewhat bittersweet. I am sure it is because of this dominating quality that I am so very successful at managing my Celiac disease. What other significant medical problem can you think of that an individual can actually completely control by what they put in their mouth. I love total control, being in charge of making the plan, executing the plan and getting the results, on my own, just my terms.
Enter the honeybee, or more specifically the colony where the collective efforts of all are completely interdependent. Without the collective work of the socialized colony, nothing would get done. Their engineering miracle is achieved by the collective work of thousands of bees. Building comb, collecting pollen, nectar, tending to the queen, nursing the larva, guarding the hive, all of it completely dependent on the work of the colony. No single bee or handful of bees could make this happen. They are in a constant state of communication with each other, directing forgers to the pollen, water and nectar sources through wing motions and dancing. The hive is made up of 30,000 or more bees, living and working together. There is overwhelming evidence of organization and harmony in the hive that one can hardly look past the lesson of democracy. Collective fact-finding, vigorous debate, and consensus building, the honeybee has much to teach us when it comes to collective wisdom and effective decision-making. I think beekeeping should be a required hobby for all of our politicians! As for myself, I am watching and learning and I think I have become a slightly better colleague, paying more attention to those around me at work and pitching in when I might otherwise be serving my own purposes. It is a small step and I have a long way to go but these bees have taught me a great deal about working together. I am not saying I am ready for a group project yet but I am less about my own agenda, which is good.