Interpreting Nature

Nature can often be a reflection of what is going on in our lives and how we are dealing with this. It is clear to me that our thoughts affect everything in the world; I believe we are all very powerful and can influence everything even though we are not aware of it. For example, our thoughts are very much more powerful in our contribution to global warming than any of the material things we do. We fight with one another and we cheat one another; we look down on others and we seek to alienate others - these all start with our thoughts as do all the other negative actions we take. This has a huge effect on our environment; our thoughts are that powerful! Equally, all the positive, loving thoughts we have about ourselves, others and our environment influence the world for the good of us all.

I have long been interested in bees and their current reduction in numbers but I have been reading recently about beekeeping, the habits of bees and their 'philosophy of life', which is, of course, our interpretation of the way they live. Anthropomorphising the creatures in the natural world is a risky undertaking because they are wild, so we can only interpret things as we think we see them. I'm sure that, in most cases, we're not right in our guesses about wildlife but there are some obvious clues that lead us to our conclusions so we can be at least partially right.

Like other species of wildlife, the bees are experiencing challenges to their existence because of changes in their habitats. Changing patterns of land use, pesticides, parasites, shifting weather patterns and climates are impinging on the world of bees, and all of these have come about only over the past 50 years.

Changes in our patterns of behaviour

Beekeeping goes against the views currently held in society. We don't 'keep' very much; we throw things away easily without even trying to repair them, even if there is that rare occasion where something has been made so that it can be repaired, by us or an expert. Even hoarders don't tend to do much with what they keep but just allow it to take up space in their lives, largely for their own security. Beekeeping is concerned with maintaining hives physically and looking after the welfare of a hive, or hives, so that the bees can continue to live and go about their business. There is a sense of continuity of practice about it.

As we know, the existence of bees is vital for our existence. Without pollination, we cannot continue to grow the crops we harvest for food. Artificial pollination can never replace the vast numbers of bees that visit so many sites where flowers grow and produce pollen in what is, in the UK at least, a relatively short summer season.

We are restless, always looking for the latest trend or fad, never wanting to be left behind by our friends and colleagues. There is a general busyness but it is unlike the busyness of the bees which is focused on their survival and the well-being of the hive. Much of our busyness is focused on keeping our own personal lives intact, whether that is about relationships, careers or just the next job to earn money, where we live, how we enjoy ourselves, and always how we look of course.

Beekeeping appeals to our innate (or rather spiritual) need to maintain the status quo. That may sound strange to those who are looking to constantly change everything (and there are many who feel this way). But as spirits, we are used to being changeless, eternally contented and happy; it is only when we spend time in a form of awareness on earth that we become restless because nothing here truly satisfies us. We are constantly seeking the next thing that can excite us, challenge us, or that can make us happy. Although bees are so tiny that we need a microscope to look at them in detail, when we look inside a beehive or see a swarm of bees, it looks like one entity but we know it is made up of individual bees. It is much like a murmuration of starlings; when we view this as a whole, the individual birds are not our main focus. It is the pattern they create that draws the eye and which inspires awe, but it is made up of individual birds acting as one. These creatures are co-operating with one another for the sake of the whole. Much the same could be said of souls; although we are each individual souls, when we look at a vast crowd of people, they look like one entity, and indeed this reflects oneness in some ways.

Nature as a reflection of ourselves

Beekeepers seem to co-operate with one another as a community for the benefit of all bees so evidently the bees' philosophy has influenced them greatly. They give one another advice and lend equipment to one another; some of them form groups for discussion of the best way of looking after the bees.

It seems, however, that beekeeping in itself will not, in truth, save the bee population because the bees are intelligent and intuitive enough to look after themselves, although the thoughts of those pursuing this activity will certainly make a difference. It seems it is an addictive hobby which is largely for our benefit with the added advantage of being able to harvest the honey for ourselves. We are perhaps looking for what is missing from our lives - the feeling of something continuing, unchanging, and offering quietness to enable us to catch our breath.

But, of course, we must not forget that beekeeping in general is again about our forcing our will on to another form of life, although this is not as true of those who practise beekeeping on a small scale. Their motive is in building a relationship with the bees, much like it was in the past where it was considered essential to keep the bees informed about what was going on in the local community. This still goes on now in some places and it is probably just a superstition but we don't know that for sure; whether it is or not, it is a way we create and build on a relationship with these wonderful creatures. And it can also be viewed as a type of therapy for beekeepers because you have to concentrate on what you are doing to make sure you don't upset the bees and to avoid being stung so all else in your life is forgotten for those moments that you spend in communion with the honeybees.

It is, as always, those who have seen the potential for making money by creating a larger business who are manipulating the bees' habitat in the hives so that they can produce larger quantities of honey and maintain stocks, in much the same way as intensive agriculture has produced more food, more economically. They even tamper with the breeding of bees, facilitating this artificially and modifying the construction of hives to increase productivity. Wild colonies are not as much in evidence now. For small-scale beekeepers, they seem to use a 'light touch' when it comes to keeping their bees; they practise bee-keeping because they are interested and care about the bees, often passionately. It seems to be an added bonus to be able to harvest honey, and it is sometimes given away rather than a charge being made. This is probably because of the satisfaction of being able to work so well with the bees that they do actually produce honey.

How we can help the bees (and so help ourselves)

Our most effective action to help bees is to make sure there are lots of suitable habitats for them - pollen-producing flowers in our gardens, parks and open spaces, including at the edges of fields and in towns and cities, and more wetlands and woodlands. Basically, we need to offset our past actions of allowing our towns and cities to encroach on the countryside to such a wide extent and our intensive farming practices. There are several charities* that work with researchers and the public to raise awareness of the difficulties bees are currently experiencing, and they offer ways for the public of all ages to get involved in modifying our gardens to include the right flowers for the bees, keeping bee hotels in gardens and many other activities, as well as giving us the opportunity to support them financially.

The way in which bees have been exploited is a microcosm of the way our lives have changed over the decades. They are being manipulated by large companies to produce bigger and better yields of honey, just as humans (souls) are being manipulated to work more intensively to yield greater profits for the captains of industry and their shareholders. This leads to less care of our countryside and our animals to the point where they are viewed only as potential sources of profit.

Having a home, of whatever type, is an essential part of living in the material world. The bees' home (hive) is an essential part of their existence. For us home is where we feel comfortable, where we return when life gets difficult; it is a haven if we've been able to create it in a way that supports this feeling. Not everyone can do that on a material level; some may have their home created home for them, perhaps not even knowing or caring what kind of environment would suit them. Some have no home in the traditional sense because they live on the streets but even there, they may have a particular spot or they may be able to go to a specific hostel at night in which they feel comfortable. Others may have what we would regard as a traditional home but it feels alien to them, perhaps because of those they share it with, its location, or the environment within the home.

'Home' means different things to different souls but it is essential we feel we have a 'home' somewhere in order to be able to function in a material sense. What is essential, however, is that we experience a state of being at home regardless of the building or location we call 'home'. It is something that is within us and it is what allows us to settle rather than experience restlessness wherever we are. 'Home' is more a state of being than a location to many people.

The bees' challenges

There is a situation referred to by beekeepers as colony-collapse-disorder (CCD) which has caused enormous losses of bee colonies in many places around the world. No one seems to know what the cause is, although it could, in part, be due to viruses. The adult bees just seem to leave the hive; there are no dead bees left behind. I wonder if, for whatever reason, the hive ceases to be regarded as a safe home to the bees, which is why they leave. It could be that because their 'home' is within them as a state of being, when something in the hive is not quite right, they have no problem with leaving to create a new 'external home' somewhere else. Or perhaps they finally rebel against being manipulated and having their honey harvested, but no one seems to know. They leave the queen and the babies behind and they, of course, will die within a few days without the community to keep them safe and nurtured. And that is the core of a bee colony, and something from which we can learn - the work the bees do always seems to be directed to the greatest good for the colony. The colony is only as strong as its weakest member. I wonder if CCD is about saving the greatest number from the colony because the colony is vital for the work they do.

Our challenges

The population of the world is only as strong as its weakest members. All the while there are those living in poverty, those without jobs, those who are not receiving healthcare to make them strong enough to lead a full life, and those who are downtrodden by the richer parts of society, we will always have problems. We may think we are immune from the problems of those less fortunate than ourselves but we are still one; those who are in poverty are part of us and can never be separated from us no matter how hard we may try to forget about them or avoid them. Giving money and time to charities will only go a short way to solving the problem in the long run; the thoughts and feelings behind the charities' work has a much greater effect. But from a material point of view, it is something that has to be tackled by governments who are not influenced by big corporations and those who can offer them something in return - there may not be a government like this in the world however.

So, in the end, it comes down to individuals doing what they can for the benefit of the whole of humanity. When we neglect the poor and needy, we neglect ourselves; every bribe is money taken from ourselves. It is all part of the oneness, just as much as giving love, forgiveness and joy to others.

The bees and other wild creatures offer us enormous lessons if we would just open our minds to see, listen and learn; our worlds reflect each other.

* If you google 'bee charities' or 'bee research, you will find numerous contacts if you wish to contribute to helping the bees increase their numbers again.

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