The Bee Hive Superorganism
A typical bee colony is made up of 30,000 – 50,000 honeybees living inside a self-constructed enclosure. Though individuals, every bee within the colony works for the good of the hive to help it function perfectly. Honeybees are interdependent and rely on each other to create a working hive.
Science describes honeybees as a superorganism, a single entity made up of many individuals cooperatively working together and functioning as one living being. Each part of the hive and all the bees’ tasks depend on each other.
Busy Bees Keep a Full Schedule
To make a hive fully functional, the bees cooperatively undertake a variety of tasks. They build comb, care for the Queen, maintain a communication network, feed and care for drones, tend a warm and nurturing bee nursery, maintain an ideal temperature year round, process and store food, bring in water as needed, keep the hive air healthy, defend the hive from intruders, inoculate new bees with intestinal flora, forage for nectar and pollen, make propolis and use it to seal the hive, prepare for swarming, find a new home when necessary, mate and reproduce.
No one bee is in charge, yet together they know precisely how one task follows another. If any one of these areas is found wanting, the hive suffers. If done well, they thrive. In this view bees are doers of tasks, which fits to a degree, but I believe they are so much more.
The Bien – The Heart of the Hive
A German word describes them with a more enhanced meaning, bien. Besides the qualities of the superorganism, the bien also includes the spiritual center and life force of the hive. Collectively the bien is conscious and alive, like a living heart and brain, and operates as a unified thought.
Knowing about the superorganism and the bien, I wondered about the bee’s perspective on those concepts. I asked them and they responded, describing themselves as a unity.
Read more: Bees Need Water Too
Viewing the Hive Holistically
I gained an understanding of this unity by listening to the bees.
“A hive is a wholeness. One bee experiences all that each bee experiences. There is no separation.
“Where you have separation, we are born into a world beyond the borders of singularity. Our first thought is always of the hive, to bear increase in the world as we sing the world into aliveness. Bees in a Unity of purpose have the fortitude and attention to meet each task with a steadiness of spirit. Each does the task at hand, does what needs to be done to carry the hive into its fullness of being.
“We are not soloists, though we each make our own sound. We are memorists. We have remarkably retentive memories. We come to the hive and we are the hive. We sing our Unity, then each take our song out into the live world. We touch each flower and deliver the signature of our creation. After our touch, each plant has a rising helix, a chromatic cord that joins earth, matter and ether. The fecundity of the atmosphere is thus enhanced and enlivened.
“Pollination is much more than fertilization. The act of pollinating moves reproductive forces and at the same time enlivens the ether. Both are important and they happen as the pause between beats in music amplifies and describes the rhythm itself. Pollinating and the daily revitalizing of the ether is our task. We are embedded into the task as it is in us and we have no singularity of it.”
Learning from the Bien
Imagine if we woke each day to ask ourselves:
How we could better the world?
Could we sing ourselves into aliveness?
Who would we be if we understood that we are all connected?
Indeed, our individual efforts have greater value when we undertake actions that better the world whole.
What it Means to Be a Memorist
Bees understand they do not exist solitarily though they each have individual roles. Rather than saying they act in unison, like a group works toward a common goal (which they do), they reference a larger perception of awareness.
They are beings who carry memory and meaning through time. While each bee has a short life, the hive itself goes on living and this is key to understanding what a memorist is.
Read more: How to Rescue a Honeybee
The Bien Lives On
Bees progress through a chronological sequence of tasks over their lifetime. Old bees die as new bees step forward to fill the prior bee’s role. They take on the tasks with a fully expressed presence that expands into the bee’s history and future. The consecutive line of bees continues into time and the hive, though older in years, functions as a perpetual presence.
Like a hologram, the hive carries the wholeness of their expression through time. Each hive is continually populated by bees on into eternity. The Unity is capable of living forever.
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