For years, there has been a certain auspicious day every spring when a bumblebee would fly onto my terrace garden where it would hover contentedly everyday, all day long, throughout the entire summer, until a certain day in autumn when it would fly away.
This ritual visitation took place without fail for more than 15 years until a few years ago when my bee stopped showing up. I say “my bee.” But was it? Could it possibly have been the same bee for a decade and a half? How long to do bees live?
Or did my fuzzy fat friend select a successor who also passed the mantle when her vacation time was up? But whether or not it was the same bee, it was definitely my bee. My buddy. My constant summer companion. My nectar-gathering compatriot.
In Hellenistic Greece, bees were understood to be related to and a manifestation of the muse. My bee was an certainly inspiration to me, as well, and I missed her visits dearly. And so did my flowers.
“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, One clover, and a bee, And revery. The revery alone will do, If bees are few.”
My bee isn’t the only one who stopped showing up. Millions upon millions of bees all over the world have been abandoning their hives and simply disappearing. Scientists named this mysterious phenomena colony collapse disorder.
If they are dying, they have chosen to do it in private, because large numbers of their corpses have not been found. Last year I found three dead bee bodies on the sidewalk just outside of my building. I saved their remains and added them to my growing collection of dead bumblebees. I keep my beautiful box filled with dead bees on my healing altar, where I pray for their wellbeing.
In some areas over sixty percent of the American honeybee population has died or disappeared during the past ten years, and this trend is continuing around the world. The potential results of this trend are terrifying. After all, one in three bites of all that we consume has been pollinated by bees.
In 1923 Rudolf Steiner predicted the dire state of the honeybee today. He said that within fifty to eighty years, we would see the consequences of mechanizing the forces that had previously operated organically in the beehive — including breeding queen bees artificially.
Well, I could have told them that The Queens don’t take interference kindly. And now they are having their royal revenge — a terrible, drastic, exacting retribution, which maybe, just maybe, might force us to rethink our precarious relationship with Mother Nature.
“We’re all busy little bees, full of stings, making honey day and night, aren’t we honey?”
Last week, my bee came back. I was completely delighted, overtaken by the depth and passion of my joy at our reunion. She hovered in front of my face for a moment then landed on my leg. And stayed there for a really long time, our bodies buzzing in unison.
Soon I noticed that she was uncharacteristically lethargic. Oh, no! Did she come back to die on me? I began to stroke her back ever so softly. I whispered prayers and gave her reiki. Then, because I had to leave, I placed her on the dirt of one of my flowering plants. If she was going to die, I wanted it to be in nature.
When I returned home a few hours later, the first thing I did was rush out to check on the bee, half expecting to see her lying on her back with her legs sticking up in the air.
But she was gone. Just gone.
“Like the bees from which this exhibition has drawn its name, we are individuals, yet we are, most surely, like the bees, a group, and as a group we have, over the millennia, built ourselves a hive, our home. We would be foolish, to say the least, to turn our backs on this carefully and beautifully constructed home especially now, in these uncertain and unsettling times.”
-The Museum of Jurassic Technology, Venice , CA
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.