More than playing their part

Bees are spiritually significant

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One of the presentations at the conference of the Amateur Beekeepers' Association of NSW inspired more food for thought about philosophical aspects of bees and beekeeping.

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CRUCIAL: More than just producing delicious honey, bees play a vital role in production of food for humans. Photo: Shutterstock.

CRUCIAL: More than just producing delicious honey, bees play a vital role in production of food for humans. Photo: Shutterstock.

In previous columns I drew attention to the significant contributions to beekeeping made by the clergy.

One of the presentations at the conference of the Amateur Beekeepers' Association of NSW inspired more food for thought about philosophical aspects of bees and beekeeping.

Laura Bee Ferguson, a dynamic American, focused her talk, not on mundane problems which dominate such conferences like productivity, diseases, biosecurity and the like, but on a more spiritual plane, the influence of bees on mankind throughout history.

Many photographs illustrated ancient religions featuring bees on their idols and statues.

Around the world today they are still represented on totems and in holy works.

Bees may be looked upon as a source of inspiration to cogitate on the forces of creation.

"The sounds of bees circle the world like a sacred net," Ms Ferguson said.

"And pollination is their sacred service to the earth."

In our modern scientific and commercial world we have lost sight of this significance and of the contribution of bees to the survival of mankind.

In contrast the modern apiculture industry is a 'toxic soup addicted to chemical solutions with devastating losses', according to Ms Ferguson.

Science is unable to solve the problems of climate change, destruction of diversity, chemically addicted agriculture and reduced foraging opportunities.

The top environmental problems, she claimed, are 'selfishness, greed, apathy and humanity's disconnection with nature'. It was enlightening to hear an American so critical of modern practices in apiculture and agriculture.

The movie, 'More Than Honey' which beekeepers saw with great interest and considerable guilt, gave a startling visual display of the methods used by the American honey industry with their thousands of hives transported across the vast country from mono-crop to huge mono-crop.

Having pondered over these matters, it is appropriate to wonder if making such severe criticism of modern practices is not displaying what has been described as 'the reckless courage of the non-combatant'.

Can the world be fed without these massive industries and their seemingly 'brutal' treatment of the environment and its animal inhabitants?

We must ask both, 'can the world population be fed without insecticides?' and 'can we continue to be fed if we do not support our insect pollinators who provide us with one in every three bites of food?'

These imponderable questions are unfortunately a legacy we are bequeathing to a subsequent generation to address.

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