Bees In The Time Of Coronavirus
by Laura Green
So, I’ve been thinking about bees a lot lately.
The beehive in my backyard holds tens of thousands of bees. Tens of thousands!
They aren't individuals, in the hive. They’re one fluid body - a multiple whole. They communicate through pheromones and vibration and mystery. The queen is their centerline, they tend and attend to her, but there isn't a hierarchy. The hive isn't controlled by any single bee.
How does it work? It can only work if every bee is the hive.
I think that might be just like us, don't you? A fluid whole. Now, with this virus, it's clear in scary ways but – it's kind of beautiful. Even comforting. We're a hive. All of us. We communicate through pheromones and vibration and mystery.
Does that seem right, to you? Does it seem good?
And they go out – the bees - they go out one by one to gather. They're the size of the tip of your thumb, they cover miles of ground, collecting - each single bee, alone. She uses information shared by the community - invisible maps and pathways. She navigates using polarity, mystery, the sun. She flies with her own wings. Then returns to the hive.
That's just like us, too. Isn't it? We’re individuals. We go out alone and feel singular. We use information we've shared, directly and indirectly, with each other. We use visible and invisible maps, mystery, the sun. We gather. Then we return.
I think it is true – I think it’s always been true. We're not different than bees. We're not outside nature. It’s hard for me to feel it day to day. I’m in my car, you’re in your car. When the sun goes down light floods my house all the same. I have a switch. I can make light. In winter I can make heat. I smile at nature and nod politely – I respect her like I might respect a now-a-days human queen. I’ll bow but, I mean - mostly she’s just good for jazzing up decorative plates, right?
With this virus and this separation, with all of you out of reach - I think, no. Not right. Wrong on all counts. We aren't one by one creatures. We're much bigger than that and nature is not outside us. Me. Us. She’s not a now-a days human queen, she’s an always and forever bee queen. A centerline. The whole hive.
I hate being separated from you. I'm grateful for all the ways we can be together through this - I'm learning technology. I miss you enough to learn technology! I like that even physically separate, spread out over miles, gathering matters so much we find ways to come together. Like finding invisible paths through the air, centered by something bright and buzzing that smells like grass and sweetness. Let's remember how much it matters - after this, when we don't have to work so hard for it.
Maybe soon, eventually, we can come back together in a new way. Or an old way. An ancient way we can remember, maybe, deeply. Knowing we can't ever really come apart and that pretending we are separate is diminishing and dangerous.
I'm glad that you're my community. It makes me feel hopeful. It makes me think something quite lovely might come next. I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to returning and making something nourishing and good with all of you.