Managing or Mismanaging?

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Bees, among other living beings on earth, are highly managed and manipulated by humans.  And still they assert themselves as wild, beyond our understanding, as seen by my last post on robber bees. Bees are a mystery, despite centuries of co-existence with them, observation and decades of scientific research.

Recently an article showed up on my front door which gave me pause. It was from a book called “Advice from Anastasia” by Vladimir Megre (Ringing Cedars Press), published in Russia, 1996, trans. in 2005 by Leonid Sharashkin. In it, Anastasia, a wise presence and communicator on behalf of the natural order of things, including bees, reminded the reader what it truly means to “think like a bee“.  She laid out the favorite dimensions of bees in the wild—a hollow tree cavity—-and how humans can replicate this if we must resort to keeping bees. Evidently the most private and non-invasive place for a bee to reside would be up on the roof, or in an attic, under the eaves or a canopy of a home, attached to the south wall, with plenty of ventilation.  There they can zip in and out to do their business, without botherment for human or insect.  Finally, she says, “Bees only sting when people act aggressively toward them, wave them off, become afraid or irritated…the bees feel this and will not tolerate the rays of any dark feelings.” (p. 85)

Animals instinctively mirror our human fears, aggressions, irritations, happiness, calmness, etc.  I see this with my domesticated cats all the time. And yet, we continue to try to dominate critters, rather than seek to learn from them and leave them to their own lives, as unhindered as possible.

This morning, I arose early to attend the NM Fish and Wildlife meeting at the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque. They were going to decide the fate of the Mexican Grey wolf reintroduction in this state, which has been repeatedly denied.  The favored uniform of the big men who decide the fate of prey and predators in New Mexico—— including cougars, bears, bobcats, and coyotes—– was 10 gallon cowboy hats and boots, a grey long sleeved shirt embossed with the lettering and emblem of NM Fish and Wildlife. They were there to report on such things as “Depredation and Nuisance Abatement”, likely racoons, skunks, snakes, coyotes, pigeons. You name it, most critters have human enemies.  They are just too inconvenient and frighteningly full of disease. There were updates on Shooting Ranges and how The State Game Commission can create even more access for hunters to wildlife areas.  There was the ongoing management of Pronghorn Antelope, which have been trapped and moved to lands in the South, even as Mountain Goats have been airlifted to the Jemez Mts. for reintroduction.  Meanwhile, our taxpayer dollars are used for watering areas in remote locations to slake the thirst of predators and prey alike in mean times.  We also pay for these same predators on public lands to be trapped, hunted and disposed of when their numbers grow too large for comfort. It is called “quotas” and profit.

As I have found with bees, once I begin to meddle, there can be no end to how I might disrupt or change the whole natural system, even the evolutionary track of the survival of the fittest.

Do I become misguided in my own beguilement of one species over another?

Do I lose perspective and respect of a creature’s wild nature as I anthropomorphize them?

It is something that troubles me as I reflect on my own relationship with wild and domesticated creatures alike.  As I try to care for or manage one, do I do the other a disservice e.g. feed the birds in my backyard, which then become easy prey for my cats, even as I snatch the doves from their jaws to take down to the Nature Rescue Center after they’ve been mauled? You know the drill.

Needless to say, I unintentionally end up creating a domino effect, sometimes a blizzard when I think I know enough, but really know so little. And so, in one small step, I’ve stopped feeding backyard birds from the feeders. I keep my cats enclosed. But I’m still feeding my bees.

William Longgood, who published a book about bees in 1985 that I think is quite brilliant wrote, “The world itself has changed while the bee has remained constant.  Many of earth’s natural contours have been move this way and that, gradually by natural forces and, abruptly, often violently, by man’s powerful machines, like a child’s sandbox and its ever-changing form.  Many species of plants and animals have been wiped out or are endangered.  We have degraded the earth and defiled the air, destroyed habitats and disrupted the delicate and irreplaceable ecosystems, imperiling the base on which life rests.  We are at war with nature, although we call it by euphemistic names: development, growth, progress, and that overused phrase, “The bottom line”, which places profits above all else. (The Queen Must Die. NY: NY, W.W. Norton Co, 1985), 228.

In the end, he sees the honeybee as a connection to that lost and neglected part of our being—the wildness of nature, which we insulate ourselves against at every turn. He ends on a hopeful note…”The bee is domesticated but not tamed.  She has not recognized man as her master; he subdues, manipulates, and beguiles her into working for him, but the bee remains what she has always been, part of nature, a part of ourselves forever lost….[providing] an enduring and hopeful message of life.” (p. 230, 234)

!Vivan las abejas! ! Que vivan! Long live the bees!

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