As we’re nearing the end of the month, I didn’t want June to pass without acknowledging and celebrating National Pollinators Month. And while butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, and other pollinators all deserve praise and appreciation, I confess bees have my greatest love. It’s only fair after all, since I’m named after them.
Our pollinators, and particularly our bees, are in serious danger, with multiple interacting issues at play. Clear to almost everyone is the critical issue of pesticide exposure, but we must also take into consideration the effect of extensive GMO farming practices; habitat loss; pathogens; and generalized stress. While we know much of what needs to be done and what changes need to be made, it’s probably safe to say there will be no government support forthcoming to rectify things. So more and more it’s up to us to do what we can. Which means, among other things, planting and supporting pollinator-friendly gardens; demanding and supporting organic food production; being very vocal and active opposing GMOs; and of course committing to the support of as many environmental actions as we can. Clearly we need to be as busy as the bees are.
My love of bees has led me over the years to intriguing obscure facts, symbolic meanings, and folklore. For instance, the Pythia, oracle priestess, was known as the Delphic Bee. The ancient Egyptian book of Am-Tuat compares the voices of souls to the hum of bees. And Pythagoreans revered bees as sacred creatures of Aphrodite who knew how to create perfect hexagons in their honeycombs. Incidentally these very units of the honeycomb, the hexagonal cells, have walls that are only 2/1000 of an inch thick, and yet are able to support 25 times their own weight.
If we peeked inside a hive, I wonder if we would see something as delightful as this piece of art by Natsuo Ikegami. I can’t help but laugh.
Also delightful, and somewhat sobering, is this Brainpickings article A Brief History of How Bees Sexed Up Earth and Gave Flowers Their Colors. I hope you take the time to read it, but if not, do head over just for a peek at the bee costume. Seriously, where were these wonders in my childhood?!
As I celebrate my bee friends, I can’t help but think of Mary Oliver’s poem Hum, which is about bees amid the roses. This is my favorite bit:
“The bees have gone simple, sipping,
that’s all. What did you expect? Sophistication?
They’re small creatures and they are
filling their bodies with sweetness, how could they not
moan in happiness?”
How I wish there was always happiness for our bees, and that we’ll always be able to hear their humming. I, for one, will do my best to say thank you whenever I see one. And whenever I see a flower, I’ll be sure to say thank you to the bees as well. Isn’t that a perfect way to spend the summer – in gratitude and enjoyment?