To Bee or Not to Bee – Colony Collapse Disorder

the following post is not meant really to express an environmental concern, it is a metaphor.  bees are insects that exhibit many of the traits of civilization, they have division of labor, they build colonies, they work collaboratively toward goals, they have architecture.  the reading below is from Harper’s Magazine Findings section.  when I read this I think about human beings, i think about chemicals and warfare and artificial systems, and then I think about our ability to remain organized toward survival.  i wonder a bit if we are not experiencing this, this Colony Collapse Disorder.

as far as our environment goes, perhaps the environment is and always will be a reflection of how human beings are treating one another.  perhaps our planet is like the colony, and when we are sick, the colony, the environment, the air, the water, exhibits signs of our inability to work collaboratively.  my thinking about the environment has always been that it must start with a spiritual revolution, that human beings have to be inspired to work collaboratively, build up the idea of community once again, perhaps put aside the notion of freedom and work instead on interdependence, and then, when we feel safe and a part of a world again, we might care about that world, we might return to our colony day after day and keep it from collapsing.

From Harper’s Magazine:

As honeybees continued to vanish from their hives, researchers supported by the National Honey Board pointed to pesticide accumulation in beeswax as a contributing factor in Colony Collapse Disorder. The researchers, who also found that beeswax loses half its accumulated mite-killing pesticides when subjected to Cobalt 60 gamma radiation, suggested that beekeepers change their honeycombs more often. Bee inbreeding was rising as populations shrank, leading to freak male bees with excessive chromosomes, lower fertility, and bad work habits. Scottish beekeepers reported the appearance of American Foul Brood (which, unlike European Foul Brood, is incurable), and Cape honeybees breached the Capensis Line, which South Africa’s government maintains to prevent the spread of AFB to African honeybees. In Britain, where the countryside was plagued by bee thefts, authorities planned to reintroduce, from New Zealand, the locally extinct shorthaired bumblebee; U.S. entomologists hoped to offset honeybee declines by promoting the solitary blue orchard bee, which can live in Styrofoam. It was discovered that America once had its own native honey-bee, Apis nearctica. Scientists found that forcing forager bees to undertake nursing tasks makes them less likely to grow stupid with age, that baby bees’ immune systems are less active if their hives are coated in antimicrobial bee resin, that male orchid bees stick out their legs to remain stable in high winds, and that bumble-bees stay aloft through brute force.

Notice the stories before and after the bee story in the first video:



  1. globatron
    October 28, 2009

    inspired to work collaboratively, build up the idea of community once again, perhaps put aside the notion of freedom and work instead on interdependence, and then, when we feel safe and a part of a world again, we might care about that world, we might return to our colony day after day and keep it from collapsing.

    These are beautiful words. Do you have any suggestions on how to pursue community in this manner? I for one would like to be around such a thing and have my children grow up around a safe, supportive environment such as this. I for one am with you on giving up a little bit of my personal freedom in order to have the community that i feel I am lacking in my life.

    It seems many have found a replacement community in Facebook and other social media applications. My wife has a digital farm she works on with her out of state cousin through FB called Farm Town. She is really bad at maintaining it and actually pays others to work on getting rid of weeds. I find this absolutely amazing but at the same time I am amazed we as a people usually don’t have enough time in a day to develop our own physical community gardens. The digital has replaced physical in so many aspects of our lives.

    I must say the last video is quite depressing. But it gave me the same feeling I get after watching a collage of local and national news. What I think is the first step is to recognize that drastic change must be made. There are so many deniers that anything is wrong with our society or culture; as we have seen even here on this site with many of the comments that have been made. Not until we admit there truly is a problem will we be able to rebuild the colony.

    I would like a twelve step plan to use in order to reorganize our colonies and to rebuild the structure that we had in past generations back into our own families. I wonder if there is a 12 step plan for that? If not there sure needs to be one.

  2. Akbar Lightning
    October 28, 2009

    my answer is that, even though we often get frustrated, we ought to keep doing this until we find a small tribe of people who ‘get it’, who see what we are doing here, see that it is not about riches, who see that it does not necessarily belong to anyone, that there is a truth we are accessing to make decisions and that it can talked about, argued in a civil way in order to build consensus and thus learn from one another in an uplifting way.

    we should keep looking, even though it frustrates us, even though we watch people come and go, because when we finally find a few more who don’t spend their time trying to deconstruct g-tron, but actually try to add their torch to the fire, we will grateful.

    with the two of us, we are able to keep things alive, but with a half dozen, this thing would blow up.

    that’s my opinion on this question, this is the ground zero of the adaptation needed to evolve out of this mess.


  3. globatron
    October 28, 2009

    I’m not sure you read my comment the way it was intended. I was looking at your post on a more global/universal level as to how can we fix our own personal hive or colony. Not just on a digital level. I mean I’m all for what you are speaking of but I’m also wondering if there are some simple steps that humans can take collectively in order to alleviate some of the colony collapse disorder in our own hives.

    For instance, both sides of my family have family all over the country. There is little or no connectivity anymore or I dodn’t experience it. The friends I knew growing up are all over the country now. I’d like to learn how to live communally again. Not as a commune but to have community be the focus of my life.

    It seems as if it is nearly impossible to do so with the way things are set up in contemporary culture. For example, a person goes from their car to their office cubicle. Back into their car, back to the house. To go to sleep and do it all over again. Everything seems to be so sectioned off. There is no openness.

    And as far as even talking about this type of thing most people on the blogosphere would rather talk about what band they are going to see or about the clothes they are wearing or endorsing. There seems to be very little real talk going on. It seems to be almost frowned upon.

    I created almost a year ago and we now have 120 blogs on there, all from Jacksonville, Florida. Often I look through it and I am amazed at the emptiness of the content from 120 blogs. No one seems to be interested in discussing health care reform or global warming, not to mention the two wars we are fighting. All the content seems to be so surface level. It’s truly saddening.

    If we can’t have a serious dialogue about the issues threatening humanity, how do we expect to solve the mystery of the bees? And if that is not possible, I find it hard to believe we will solve the mystery of our own human colonies but I won’t quit asking the questions in the meantime as it seems not many other humans are willing to toe that line.

  4. Akbar Lightning
    October 28, 2009

    i know it seems ridiculous, but i really believe if we were able to create a true community of people like us on this blog, then that would serve as a model in the larger sense. in other words, look at how hard it has been to find one other person who really matches the vision of this site, who wants to integrate fully with it. but with people like us, with such passion, if that gets multiplied a few more factors up, that could have global consequences.

    all we have is right here, using this as our nexus point. and having no other choice, we are forced to believe that we can take this point and make it expand, at some point creating a positive feedback in our more local, more physical worlds.

    i know that seems kind of absurd, but that is the way i see the solution.


  5. globatron
    October 28, 2009

    No it doesn’t seem ridiculous and I’m all for it. I’ve just been through so many cycles of death and rebirth of this site I’ve settled on it being what it is; which is a conversation between two artists, hence the Adams to Jefferson #1 post and project.

    I was just thinking of something more systemic inside our culture versus my own life and my own personal sense of community.

    Pretty cool my wife has that digital farm now that I think about it. Maybe that’s the closest we’ll ever have to a farm with the way things are going.

    Akbar you make a fine Jefferson and I look forward to reading your correspondence in the future. I’m proud of what we have accomplished here. I do think of the Globatron legacy though, I must admit.

  6. reen
    January 19, 2010

    Dear people, Globatron, Akbar and others like yourselves, it seems, from where I sit, that you lot need to get together and plan something physically. Leave the digital world for occasional info. Send out a call through your sites like Gumtree and our (South African)
    Talent Exchange (see S.A.N.E.)for like-minded people, get together, find a spot on your map, buy it, and turn it into an eco-village. This is being done quite a bit here, and one may be seen by emailing
    [email protected], care of Douw van der Zee. Fortune favours the brave…Reen


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