Think Like a Bee…SuperOrganism

Last week I attended the ABQ Beeks meeting, thronging with new and returning beekeepers. We heard about the nasties—varroa mites and American Foulbrood— by a special speaker. At the end of the presentation, he referred to honeybees as “livestock. My hackles went up.

Image result for industrial beekeeping images

 

The rise of industrial beekeeping, with the massive migration of hives around the country for pollination services, has contributed to the diseases and disservices we visit upon bees. Not only philosophically, how we think about them as “livestock”, but how we practice beekeeping. Most of their ailments are associated with crowding hives in the beeyard, trucking hives around the country, importation of new apis varieties that colonize native bees, bringing pestilence and disease and imposing chemicals that are harsh and toxic—a “thousand little cuts” according to Mark Winston, bee researcher/author.

Image result for industrial beekeeping images

In a brief conversation with my bee student after the meeting, I wondered aloud if it was helpful to see honeybees as livestock. Does it diminish this wild creature and draw us away from exploring their nature as a super organism?  My student chimed in…”And it’s an insect”, indicating how very different this species is from humans. And yet, how alike we are as well.  Superorganism, human, insect, fowl, fourfooted, finned—we all need clean air, water, food. We all need community.

In The Super Organism: The Beauty, Elegance and Strangeness of Insect Societies, Burt Holldobler and E.O. Wilson, Pulitizer Prize winning ant researchers, laid out the “extraordinary lives of social insects…these superorganisms—a tightly knit colony of individuals, formed by altruistic cooperation, complex communication, and division of labor”.

Image result for super organism, EO wilson image

Thomas Seeley, bee researcher and head of the Department of Neurobiology at Cornell University, writes in his book, Honeybee Democracy, about the similarities between the neurons of a human brain and the inner workings of the whole hive collectively:

We will see that the 1.5 kilograms (3 pounds) of bees in a honeybee swarm, just like the 1.5 kilograms (3 pounds) of neurons in a human brain, achieve their collective wisdom by organizing themselves in such a way that even though each individual has limited information and limited intelligence, the group as a whole makes first-rate collective… A colony of honeybees is, then, far more than an aggregation of individuals, it is a composite being that functions as an integrated whole…Indeed, one can accurately think of a honeybee colony as a single living entity, weighing as much as 5 kilograms (10 pounds) and performing all of the basic physiological processes that support life: ingesting and digesting food, maintaining nutritional balance, circulating resources, exchanging respiratory gases, regulating water content, controlling body temperature, sensing the environment, deciding how to behave, and achieving locomotion. (David Dobbs, Science, 12-27-11)

How can we even imagine how to properly take care of a bee unless we learn to “think like a bee” (which in itself might just be arrogant hubris)—-or at least try more and more to attune to it’s true nature and needs, rather than superimposing our human will on bees for convenience, profit, pleasure and ignorance.

img_1408-1

I was glad, in that moment, that my bee student had hung out long enough with me to understand what I hope to convey to future generations…a whole different lens by which to understand creaturely bee-ings of which we only play at stewarding and “keeping”. Truly, they have so much to teach us if we only would pay attention. listen. learn.

At the end of our Bee Meeting, we had a panel of beekeepers talking about the variety of ways they address the disaster of varroa mites in their hives. It ranged from “soft” treatments of essential oils, formic and oxalic acid…to other non-chemical ways of treating bees such as splitting colonies, the “sugar roll”, rotating old, dark brood comb out, and brood breaks.

I wondered if my approach of experimenting with essential oil was seen as “non scientific” and not-credible to some‚ though I cited varroa mite research from University of West Virginia and The University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. I’ve learned that essential oils such as oregano, spearmint, wintergreen, tea tree, thymol, are full of anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-pest compounds that can support bees in strengthening their collective immune system, while killing mites in the brood. Herbs being an integral part of bee’s landscape, we can we capitalize on what they already harvest, or is native to their food system? It is less expensive than chemicals and yes, it takes some experimenting.

Image result for herb images

For me, to Think Like A Bee, is to ask, “what is the bees natural habitat?” and “What will be least toxic? How can I give them good health care without exposing them to harsh and intolerable living conditions?”  It’s their home and their hive that I am exploiting in order to reap the rewards of their work.

We humans have much to admire in the the superorganism world.

And much to learn.

 

 

The Tiny Mite Problem…

Image result for warning images

WARNING: This will not be the most pleasant and cheerful of bee blog posts….I must talk about the ugly but important reality. I cannot deny it.

Like the current state of politics in this country…deny to your detriment.

This is the reality. Beekeepers are finding out that we can no longer ignore varroa mites in our hives. It’s not a good idea to pretend they are not there.  Or imagine the beehives will pull through without some intervention.

Sadly, it’s not like the days when great grandpa kept bees. That was a bygone time when the mysteries of the bee world— their hive secrets and intimate life—were not constantly tampered with. They were left mostly to their own devices. The hives ebbed at times, but mostly flowed prolifically, rewarding their keeper with honey—generous  and abundant every summer. Grandpa did not need to pay them much attention(or so I’ve heard) til it was time to move them or steal their honey.

Image result for beehive images
 
Image result for beehive images

I took up beekeeping with rosy pictures in my mind of pastoral scenes filled with beehives. I did not plan to take care of them every single day. I did not want more domesticated animals that I must feed, water, vaccinate and clean their toilets and homes. For me, bees were a vestige of the wild with which humans could still interact.  It was exhilarating to learn about them, observe and care for them without needing to perseverate about their diseases or bowel movements or babies.

And then came the mites.

Image result for images of varroa mites

 

These days, to me, beekeeping seems much more domesticated. I must test them, treat them, clean out their piles of dead colleagues, keep an eagle eye on their patterns and habits. Like the medieval bubonic plague. Like the AIDS of the apis world. Like the deadly flu that never goes away. You must pay attention. All. The. Time.

If you have mites and do not test and treat, your bees will die. If not now, in the dearths of late summer, fall or winter when then are weakened.

Image result for images of varroa mites

According to bee researcher Dr. Thomas Seeley,  in his presentation “Tracking the Wild Honeybee”, he found that feral honeybees are naturally selecting for genetics that will keep mites at bay. Or at least, only a minor scourge that they can survive.

Until bees, like humans, figure out how to overcome and adapt to diseases that sicken and decimate their populations—such as the human measles, mumps, polio, smallpox, AIDS, Spanish flu—we either let them collapse and let the genetics of the remnant rise like a phoenix out of the ashes, or we help them along.

Image result for beehive images

Ok. Enough of the dire news. The good news is that we no longer have to burn our hives if they have mites. Though it was once mandated by agricultural extensions and universities, desperate to stamp out the mites by a scorched earth policy.

So, I try to support my bees without using the heavy artillery—which is hard on them. Like chemotherapy, sometimes the cure can be more deadly than the disease.

I try to do a hybrid of natural selection, re-queening, and a beehive cleanse and immune strengthener. These essential oil remedies seem to have helped at least 5 of my hives survive the mites this past winter. I use it 2-3 X before winter sets in or as the Spring buildup begins—just to knock the mites back—and let the girls do the rest of the heavy lifting.

Here’s two recipes:

Essential Oil beehive cleanse

1 quart of water

2 tsp tea tree oil

1 tsp wintergreen

2-3 drops lemongrass

Mix for 5 minutes at low speed to emulsify.

Add 1 cup of mixture to boiled sugar water (1:1 sugar/water) and feed

Oregano oil beehive cleanse

2 cups of boiled sugar water (1:1 sugar/water)

1 drop of food grade oregano

Mix and feed.

Related image

Bon appetit, bees!

Meanwhile, what does bee-think teach me about the ugly reality of politics in this country today?

It’s possible to overcome destroyers, but it takes great resilience, adaptability and persistence. We cannot go to sleep. We must remain vigilant and awake.  We must help one another stay strong.

 

 

 

Spring Solstice and Bee Trees

Bee friends. Forgive me for being away so long. I’ve been on the road and distracted by many things. As I pondered what to write today, I decided to use an article that came to me from a friend. As you can imagine, I collect random tidbits about bees. Friends and family email me, stuff my hands with bee magazine and newspaper articles and fill my snail mailbox with all sorts of bee related news and trivia. Thank you everyone! I learn all kinds of fascinating things about bees from you, and I like to pass it along in Think Like a Bee.

Now that Spring Equinox is right around the corner—Tuesday, March 20 to be exact— I want to get down to business. It’s time to talk about TREES, the gold star of all Spring bee forage.

Tree New Mexico provides a fabulous compendium on the importance of planting flowering trees, since they provide gobs of nectar food for hungry bees coming out of   winter dormancy. Check with your local Master Gardeners club, County Cooperative Extension or local nursery for best tree varieties in your location, climate and elevation.

According to Tree NM, natives and native cultivars work best “and any tree will need supplemental watering for – at least – the first 2-3 years. Be patient and keep in mind the old adage “Sleep, Creep, Leap.” It well-describes the first 3 years of a newly planted tree.

 

Image result for bees and trees images

 

Thanks to Heather Harrell and Les Crowder’s Top-Bar Beekeeping (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012) for the following high desert trees—though you in far flung, greener places will also recognize trees below that suit your region:

Fruit Trees – How great is this? Honeybees love the nectar and pollen while they increase fruit set and we get to enjoy the result! Apples, cherries and plums are especially favored by bees. Be advised that ornamental fruit trees are mostly self-pollinating and are therefore less attractive to honeybees while heirloom or native fruits are very attractive.

Willow (Salix sp.) – Many species are New Mexico natives. As early bloomers, willows are very important as a spring source of pollen. Willows have added value for wind and visual screening; basketry material; and some add particular visual interest due to form or bark color.

Image result for desert willow tree images

Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa– Yes, that one! This bane of ranchers produces some of the best light and fragrant honey on the planet and beautiful, hard wood.  As another early source of pollen, the bees really appreciate it. It is a relative of the New Mexico Locust (Robinia neomexicana) and other locust varieties also known to be great bee trees. All are in the pea family, so they fix nitrogen and build soils.

Honey Mesquite

Catalpa (Catalpa sp.– Catalpa trees have very large leaves and have the potential to be large shade trees. While they are great bee trees, they do not typically fare well in the desert Southwest without ongoing supplemental water. And even then they may exhibit defoliation from heat stress.

Image result for catalpa tree image

Linden (Tilia sp.) – Lindens bloom in midsummer, so they are an important nectar bridge during the hottest months and may be an emergency food source if spring blooms are lost to late frosts. Makes wonderful rich honey.

Image result for linden tree image

Bee Bee Tree (Tetradium danielli) – The name says it all. Bees LOVE this tree. Another midsummer bloomer, it is also called the Korean Evodia tree.

[​IMG]

Tatarian Maple (Acer tataricum) – small white flowers attract bees to this small shrubby maple, winged seeds helicopter to the ground a little later. One cultivar in particular (Hotwings®) with red seeds and red fall foliage was developed for alkaline soils of the Rocky Mountain west.

Tatarian Maple

Japanese Pagoda (Sophora japonica) – Japanese Pagoda trees are especially valuable to honeybees in mid to late summer when little else is blooming. Profuse white blossoms make it an attractive tree for the home landscape as well.

Other trees – Les mentions tulip poplars and ash trees as important additional forage trees for bees….

Image result for tulip poplar images

Happy Spring tree planting!

 

Good bee news (for once)

PARIS (Reuters) – A French court suspended on Friday the license for two pesticides made by Dow Chemical, citing uncertainty over environmental risks including their effects on bees.

Can you imagine this happening in the U.S.?

In another amazing citizen triumph, the Australians demanded the end to neonicotinoids, a major bee killing chemical used in agriculture and found in many over the counter insecticides at your local plant nurseries.

honey-bees-hive

Research suggests neonicotinoids impair bees’ ability to remember how to return to the colony. Photo: Getty

 “Having a beautiful garden is a luxury. Bees are not. They are essential”, stated Dr. Katja Hogendoorn of Adelaida, Australia, who researches behavioral ecology and evolution of native bees. “There is no doubt that pesticides often kill bees”.

Research in recent years has found that even small amounts of this ingredient [neonicotinoids] can be harmful to bees, shutting down their brains.

The chemicals impaired bees’ ability to remember how to return to the colony and to connect the scent of a flower to a food reward (pollen).

Other research has suggested exposure to neonicotinoids causes lower reproductive success and leads to bees dying sooner than they otherwise would.

 

DSC_0315

These days I am more concerned than ever about chemicals and the effects they have on all life forms, including humans. In an era where the EPA is quietly being rendered impotent, it is time for citizens to become informed and demand healthy alternatives. As blocks of consumers, we have incredible clout. Some safe alternatives to pests include bio-solutions of beneficial insects, soaps, bt, sulphur and oils. Research it. Boycott chemicals.

It’s time to evolve as human beings—to a safe, chemical free world—even as Dow, Bayer and Monsanto sell our earth out for profiteering and their bottom lines.

We are all one in the web of life.

https://static.pexels.com/photos/590081/pexels-photo-590081.jpeg

 

 

 

Wildflowerscapes

 

As spring encroaches in fits and starts, it’s time to think of ways to boost your pollinator habitat.

One thing that’s not so easy to do here in the southwest because of the lack of water, is grow wildflowers. But if you are able to keep one little patch watered, the honey is amazing, and bees love native wildflowers. Check the packet to make sure they are New Mexico drought resistant.

If you live in the Midwest or big Ag areas, hand the article below to farmer Joe or your neighbor. You know, the ones who insist on spraying his/her crops or backyard with neonicotinoids or using systemically treated pest resistant plants. Sad reality: those systemically treated plants also kill the good guys, our pollinators. Over time, they sicken bugs and humans alike.

Our British fellows across the Pond are leading the way— not only to increase pollinator habitat—but also to encourage beneficial bugs that eat the nasty devourers of crops. The hope is to STOP using neonicotinoids, the worst class of insecticides for pollinators. (Click on this link to find all the common trade names at your local nursery with such misleading names as Calypso, Prosper, Gaucho, Capstar…)

Here’s the story.

Lining the perimeter of fields with pretty-as-can-be floral borders is a proven way to attract ground beetles, hoverflies and parasitic wasps — not the most lovable-sounding collection of arthropods, to be sure. However, these predatory insects do a solid job of keeping real pests such as aphids in check and, as a result, can help to lower a farm’s reliance on pesticides and increase crop yields. (Added bonus: they attract bees.)

But according to a recent report from the Guardian, ringing fields with wildflowers isn’t quite as effective as it could be considering that the beneficial bugs are only eliminating destructive pests on the outskirts of fields and not toward the center, where there’s an even greater abundance of crop-damaging free meals for the taking. After all, why would a perfectly content bug travel out of its way for an tasty aphid snack when it doesn’t really have to?

“If you imagine the size of a [ground beetle], it’s a bloody long walk to the middle of a field,” explains Richard Pywell of England’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)…And so, Pywell and his colleagues have launched a literal field study that’s more or less a no-brainer when it comes to broadening the range of pest-munching predatory insects: extending the rows of wildflowers inside the fields, in lieu of simply limiting bug-attracting blooms to the periphery. The brightly colored floral strips planted as part of a five-year test-run at 15 farms across eastern and southern England are only six meters (a little under 20 feet) wide. The strips take up a mere smidge — roughly 2 percent — of valuable cropland when spaced about 100 meters (328 part), a distance that allows for pest-eradicating insects to better infiltrate the fields and do what they do best.

( @CEHScienceNews)

 Bon apetit beneficials!

 

 

Bee Lament

Half of my bees are lost. Dead. It’s the national average these days. 50% losses after the winter. Mites? Chemicals? Lack of food/habitat?

Likely all of those things. As Mark Winston, 40 year bee researcher and professor of biology at Simone Fraser University, wrote in Beetime..

We are prone to accept death by a thousand little cuts, in which one degraded aspect of our environment or health becomes familiar and accepted as … Sooner or later, though, there is that thousandth cut, insignificant on its own but deadly in the context of many other cuts.

Mark Winston, Beetime: Lessons from the Hive(Cambridge, MA: Harvard U. Press, 2014)81

Today as I grieve my bee losses, I am aware that I live in a society that is cutting itself to death—bees being only the canary in the mine. Our culture of chemicals, poisoned food, toxic politics, gun violence, overpopulation, destruction of our air, land and water, an economic of endless growth, fossil fuel addiction, to name a few…are all contributing to a human world that seems intent on destroying itself.

Somedays I feel the sickness in myself. Acutely. My bees literally feel it.

Do I have hope?

As a glass half full kind of gal, I must also say, half my bees are alive, flying and gathering pollen as Spring approaches! I was overcome with delight when I saw 4 of my hives with the usual buzzbuzz bee life activities.

One thing I took away from Dr. Thomas Seeley’s presentation last weekend on the Hive Mind was the resiliency of honeybees. After years of stalking the wild bee colonies in his local forest of upstate New York, he asked the question, “Why do they persist?

He found out, after years of sampling and observing wild bees that have escaped or swarmed from their domesticated lives with owners like me, that there were two things that allowed them to survive the myriad disasters arrayed against them.

  • Good genes—who they are
  • Good lifestyle–how they live

When they finally leave behind the drudgery and sickness of our industrialized ways of beekeeping, they can find their own rhythm and ways of coping— through natural selection. In studying multiple lineages of queen lines and their genetics, he found that after a huge homogenization, overcrowding, overstressing, over chemicalizing of the European honeybee in this country, they crashed. Bee society had lost their diversity.

Does this sound familiar for our current human dilemma?

Back to bees…The current wild bees living in Seeley’s neighborhood today have changed drastically. In terms of their genetics, their size has changed: “new bees” are smaller and more nimble. Their behavior has changed: they are adaptable and the workers have learned how to kill mites in the uncapped brood cells, before they hatch with these horrors attached to their bodies.

In terms of their lifestyle, they live with much greater distance in their colony spacing, so they don’t readily pass along pathogens and parasites as they do in the intensely crowed bee yards where we keep the hives in close proximity for our convenience. Their nest site is smaller and they have learned to slather they inner hives with propolis, an anti-biotic, antiseptic resin they gather from evergreen trees. In all ways, they are living less crowded, less stressed, less “too big” lives.

https://i2.wp.com/news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/76275000/jpg/_76275601_b1101_ant007216c.jpg

If there is one notable message from honeybees, it lies in the power of their collective response to stress, in the way they allocate work, communicate, make decisions, and balance individual activities with their communal imperatives. Our decision either to emulate honeybees by opting for the collective good or to pursue personal interests and individual gain may be the decisive factor in the success or failure of our response to contemporary environmental challenges. (Mark Winston, Beetime: Lessons from the Hive(Cambridge, MA: Harvard U. Press, 2014)17

Sounds like a good recipe for humans.

I end with a lament for the bees and for all of us. It is a prayer for healing. It is attributed to the Ojibway people, the Anishinaabe, who originally stretched from the Great Lakes to Montana.

Grandfather,

look at our brokenness.

We know that in all creation

Only the human family

Has strayed from the Sacred Way.

We know that we are the ones

Who are divided

And we are the ones

Who must come back together

To walk in the Sacred Way.

Grandfather

Sacred One,

Teach us love, compassion, and honor

That we may heal the earth

and heal each other.

Earth Prayers, ed. Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991)95

IMG_1729

 

Hive Mind: Decision-Making Secrets of Bees

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/fc/7e/71/fc7e71a2aaf74a18c90114176bf07205--worker-bee-the-hives.jpg

The New Mexico Beekeepers Association is offering an amazing opportunity at our Annual meeting this weekend. How we as humans can learn to think like a bee!

The event is entitled: Hive Mind: Decision-Making Secrets of Bees.

https://harvardmagazine.com/sites/default/files/styles/4x3_main/public/img/article/0411/MJ11_30_Image_0001_web.jpg?itok=NUhaKiBU

Dr. Thomas D. Seeley, will be joining our hive mind here in Albuquerque—to talk about bee communication, the honeybee’s social life and how the bee colony makes decisions together. His research has led him to write a number of books, including, Honeybee Democracy (2010)and Following the Wild Bee(2016).

https://i0.wp.com/pages.nbb.cornell.edu/images/honeybee%20democracy.jpghttps://i.ytimg.com/vi/rg3dSWC_zQ8/mqdefault.jpg

In recognition of his scientific contributions, he has been honored by an Alexander von Humboldt Distinguished U.S. Scientist Award, awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences—but he writes that his “most important prizes by far are the discoveries that I have made about the inner workings of honey bee colonies.”

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/de/33/88/de33880bba2b1843407987644dc73bde--swarm-of-bees-the-future.jpg

We live in a time where it is imperative that we humans learn how to become the “hive mind”—a democratic society that is dedicated to the hive well-being now simply because this will become our future colony.

Time’s up. We can no longer afford to let the drones loll around, sucking the resources out of the community. We can no longer allow our young one’s future to be cannibalized by greed and the destruction of their dreams.

We must learn from our amazing winged relatives. And to do this takes time. We must sit at the feet of the wise ones in the natural world with open hearts, ready to have our minds changed.

Think like a bee. It’s time.

Bee there…

 

February 2-3rd: Registration at the door begins Friday at 12:00 pm

Admission is $30 membership to the NM Beekeepers Association

Location is the South Broadway Cultural Center, 1025 Broadway Blvd SE, Albuquerque, NM 87102

https://www.wired.com/wp-content/uploads/images_blogs/wiredscience/2013/03/ff_collectives3_large.jpg

 

Tracking Africanized honeybees

Since I’m too lazy to write an in depth blog today, I will leave you with two very short amazing videos showing a unique collaboration between the natural world and humans. You will see tribal men on the trail to find the honey of Africanized bee hives.

You have to understand, in the western hemisphere we’re taught to destroy such hives. Africanized bees are a danger, we’ve been told. And it’s true. They are a force of nature to be respected, reckoned with and yes, not to be located near communities of people. But, they are here to stay, and currently intermixing with our European bees—making a very resilient strain of bees.

In Africa, they “woo” the bees with smoke and take the combs out bare handed.

Honey guides are amazing birds that provide a rare but mutually beneficial service to humans who want to locate a honeybee hive. In a fascinating exchange of language, you will see how human and bird work together.

How little we know about the natural world and the possibility for collaboration. How little we understand that animals are intelligent and sentient beings. But in these tribes, such mutual cooperation has been going on a loooooong time….

We in the west have so much to learn.

 

 

 

Big thanks to one of my bee teachers, Susan Clair, for these videos…she is currently working with Silver City, NM to pass a Bee City USA pollinator protection resolution.

 

 

Bee-come the Hive Mind

https://carolinahoneybees.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/where-to-put-you-beehive-farm.jpg

In a blog entitled “Elites Don’t Understand Human Nature, But it’s Time They Learned” Joe Brewer , a complexity researcher who specializes in culture design explores the mess we are in as humanity.

He wonders at the fact that our society would allow the powers that be to destroy all that we hold valuable. In a 2016 blog post, Brewer writes:  ( and I’ll tell you, it’s worth reading the whole thing)

Here’s an amazing fact: It’s 2016 and humanity is collectively moving toward a future that nobody wants. We are literally going somewhere that will hurt every single one of us.

I have no clue what a cultural designer does, but his blog about elites, who continue to distance themselves from the rest of us with wealth, policies and politics that divide society and pretty much keep the economic pipelines flowing to the top 1% has alot of truth in it.

I wonder myself, almost every single day. How did we allow this to happen?

Instead of the better angels of our nature, we humans seem to be accelerating quickly to a cliff that we really don’t want to drive off.

Brewer actually has good words for humans.

Each of us is born precariously fragile from a mother’s womb. We would quickly die in those first few years if caregivers were not ever-present to feed us, wipe away our excrement, and protect us from harm. Human beings are deeply social creatures. We arise from the natural world and are profoundly immersed in webs of dependency from the first drawn breathe to the last wavering exhale.

The sciences of human nature tell us much more than this. Not only are we social beings, we are also deeply moral in nature.

https://i2.wp.com/www.beetography.com/Honey-Bees/Trophollaxis/i-wC8JGKk/1/L/1vs3-DSC7871-L.jpg

Time to take lessons again from the hive mind.  Like bees, we are deeply social creatures. It is in our nature to touch, to care for one another, to communicate, to belong. We need each other. We want to be a part of something bigger than our small selves. Working together for the common good brings great things to pass. It is mutually satisfying. Like bees, we humans are moral by nature in caring for the community, unless of course something goes horribly awry.

So what’s really going on here? Has something gone terribly awry?

Actually, I’m not sure elites in power ARE out of touch with human nature. They know all too well that a fully functional, healthy, whole community will bring about their downfall. It will not put up with their greedy, grabbing, profit driven ways. Splintering the ordinary masses by keeping us sick, impoverished, ignorant and in-fighting is in their best interests for power grabbing. United we stand, divided we fall. Works every time.

So, our work this year, more than ever, is not just to think like a bee but to become the hive mind—working together. Finding ways to connect the dots even across our divides. We cannot waste time over silly, stupid tweets and the ongoing drone of a media feeding frenzy over every single detail of this administration.

We must keep moving.

This year, thanks to the New Mexico Beekeepers Association, we will hear Dr. Tom Seeley speak about this “Hive Mind: Decision Making Secret of the Bees“. He is a bee researcher, particularly interested in their communication styles and communal decision making. He has written two incredibly timely books—–“Honeybee Democracy” (2010) and “Wisdom of the Hive” (1995). All are welcome to come to the events, February 2-3, 2018, at the Broadway cultural Center.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81hdEK%2Bq4ML.__BG0,0,0,0_FMpng_AC_UL320_SR214,320_.jpg

I’ll see you there.

 

For the New Year…

It’s all I have to bring today –
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.
(Emily Dickinson, 1830 – 1886)
The bees and land are resting through these long nights and short days. But it is a restless and troubled sleep. The days often rocket from 20 degrees Farenheit at night to high 50’s during the day. Bees buzz around confused, certain that warm temps signal food somewhere. I hear the sucking sound of the dry soil, desperate to replenish the dormant roots with water.
https://i0.wp.com/assets.climatecentral.org/images/made/06-21-13-drought-in-NM_600_315_s_c1_c_c.jpg
There is no moisture. My friend tells me that Albuquerque has gone 90 days without any precipitation. In two days we will have broken the record of 91 days without moisture in 1917. New Mexicans are accustomed to living on the razor’s edge of drought. Still, the dryness becomes worrisome. We need a decent snowpack for a fighting chance to survive the fire season next summer. Even if my bees were to survive the wildly swinging temperatures, the parasites and emptying winter honey stores— without proper moisture their prospects for food this year will be greatly diminished.
Meanwhile, the eastern coast is hammered by a “bomb cyclone” and frigid temps.
https://i1.wp.com/ichef.bbci.co.uk/wwfeatures/wm/live/1280_640/images/live/p0/5q/0p/p05q0pf7.jpg
As the East battles wind chills of -100 degrees, the Midwest has plummeted to single digits. I can’t even imagine the bodies of wild creatures, warm blooded, fleshy and tiny against this arctic blast. They live without the comfort of heated homes to retreat into when the weather grows monstrously unpredictable.
https://i0.wp.com/www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/news/2018/01/05/TELEMMGLPICT000150466796_trans_NvBQzQNjv4Bqeo_i_u9APj8RuoebjoAHt0k9u7HhRJvuo-ZLenGRumA.jpeg
Something is not right. Everywhere we turn there are super storms, fires, droughts. We can no longer be  on the fence about climate change. It looms like a freight train, bearing down on this planet. It seems clear that we have passed  the point of no return. We don’t know what kinds of catastrophic or micro-climate changes are queued up for the new year.
And still. In this new year,  I will continue to bring myself and my heart to all this that I love—the meadows wide, the clover fields where the bee dwells, the beleaguered New Mexico rivers acequias and aquifers, with oil and gas frackers circling like vultures…
What is your heart calling you to do in this new year?
IMG_1729