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Bye-Bye Bees

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Every spring for years now, there has been a certain auspicious day when a bumblebee would fly onto my terrace garden and stay there throughout the entire summer. It would hover contentedly every day, all day long, until a certain day in autumn when it would fly away.

This annual visitation took place without fail for more than 15 years until a couple of 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? 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 certainly an inspiration to me as well, and I miss her presence dearly. As do my flowers.

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee. One clover, and a bee, and reverie. The reverie alone will do, If bees are few.

- Emily Dickinson

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 have named this mysterious phenomenon "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 a beautiful box filled with dead bees on my healing altar, where I pray for their well-being.

In some areas, more than 60 percent of the American honeybee population has died or disappeared during the past 10 years, and this mass die-off is seen everywhere around the globe.

The potential results of this trend are terrifying. After all, one in every three bites of all the food that we consume has been pollinated by bees.

In 1923, Rudolf Steiner predicted the dire state of the honeybee today. He said that within 50 to 80 years, we would see the consequences of mechanizing the forces that had previously operated organically in the beehive -- including the breeding of queen bees artificially.

Well, I could have told those factory farmers and bee pimps that 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, Queen of all queen bees.

We're all busy little bees, full of stings, making honey day and night, aren't we honey?

- Bette Davis

Last week, my bee came back and 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 and then landed on my leg. She 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 healing energy. 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
Culver City, CA

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