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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Beeing An Individual

I was admiring a zinnia when I heard a tiny, buzzy sort of snore. I leaned closer.

"Hello Bead."

"Huh? Wha? Oh, it's you. Did you call me Bead?"

"Yes, I know you're a bee but my daughter used to call bees "beads" when she was little and I guess it stuck."

" 'Sokay. Charming. I was just resting my eyes. Gimme a moment."

I stepped around the flower bed and admired its progress, but kept glancing back at Bead to see if he was all right.
He fluttered and flapped and propped himself up onto 3 elbows to look at me with sleepy curiosity.

"What?" He said.

"Well, I was just wondering if honey is really bee poop."

"Ha! If it was, we'd teach you how to do it and human cities would smell a lot better. But no, it's an entirely separate process --nothing to do with our digestion. You can see --yes come close, I won't sting..."

You sure?

"Of course! If we sting, we die, a system most conducive to tolerance and pacifism, I assure you. Observe my fur."

"Beautiful."

"Yes, and practical. It gathers pollen from flowers and transfers it to other flowers. No flowers, no horticulture, no vegetation without us furry bees. But that's hardly half our job. We gather nectar to make honey, remember where we got it, then fly it back to the hive to store it in cells. Other bees evaporate its water content down to 18% by flapping their wings, then seal it up to cure for a while."

"To feed us?"

"Secondarily, yes, but first to nourish our young. Not really feeding either, as honey is not digested by anything that eats it, not even humans. It goes right into the bloodstream without modification."

"Wow! Who figured that out, Bead?"

"Well, uhm..."

"Name's Geo."

"Well, Geo., it was really a corporate development. I mean, look at me --yes, look at my head. Do I look like I have enough brains to think that up?"
"I...uh."

"Geo., I'll say it for you: I have a brain the size of a grass seed. It's under this black shiny cap in front of my wings. Foraging bees solve traveling problems every day, visit flowers at multiple locations and, because we use lots of energy to fly, we find a route that keeps flying to a minimum."

"And you say this is due to a corporation consolidating your species? Good heavens, Bead, what of individualism?"

"Geo., the strength of individualism is in taking a nap in a flower and telling the corporation whatever I want. Meanwhile, I get to meet people like you and have adventures on the job. You're human and only beginning to understand the rise of corporate evolution and corporate ultimacy. A million years hence, you too will be snoozing in the nearest zinnia and discussing your private thoughts."

"You mean?"

"Yes, I mean individualism requires no more brain than a grass seed, and maybe someone to call you 'Bead'."

"Instead of bee?"

"Precisely, but tell nobody, Geo."

"I will compose myself in silence."

"Thanks, Geo., silence is good but it's ok to buzz a little bit."


41 comments:

  1. Did blogger eat my comment? :( I like your wisdom here and especially this line: "If we sting, we die, a system most conducive to tolerance and pacifism, I assure you." Nice writing

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    1. Thanks, Sage. Sometimes it's surprising to see comments slip away but they're just being sent to my gmail. I get them back here eventually.

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  2. Don't trust those bees. My husband approached one that was having a grouchy day and apparently didn't mind dying over a little unnecessary aggression It IS nice to know one can maintain individuality within the corporate setting though.

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    1. Indeed! Norma gets stung sometimes but I never do. Last year a grumpy bee stung her arm and she had to get antibiotics. Maybe violent bees could get counseling to establish peaceful individuality.

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  3. He sounds llke a pretty smart bead to me, Geo. Maybe we should all be constructed with stingers.

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    1. It would make swashbuckler films less --or perhaps more-- interesting if sword fights were conducted butt to butt. Even for a bee, it's an awkward spot for a weapon.

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    2. HA! Good one, dude. Errol Flynn flicks would have been even more fun to watch.

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  4. On a tangent (as if my comments are anything else), Joe Haldeman wrote a somewhat dated Sci Fi book, "The Forever War" that deals with the issue of the individual vs the collective in an interesting manner. Eventually the human race becomes a race of clones all from two humans. It certainly stops wars.
    Well-written, as usual.

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    1. Most kind, Mike. I know of Joe Haldeman but haven't read "The Forever War". Sounds fascinating. I know clones shouldn't have any more trouble with individualism than identical twins but how it might stop war...worth looking into.

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  5. I do hope that you keep on buzzing. With or without Bead.

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  6. Is it really true that honey isn't digested? As a passing point of interest, who said that we were a race of individuals? If we were, governments, corporations, television and society itself would have failed dismally in its efforts at mind control. I see few signs of that failure.

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    1. Yes, enzymes are added to nectar by bees that divide the sucrose into two simple sugars, fructose and glucose, which are directly absorbed by our bodies. Afraid I must agree with your take on media and mind control.

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  7. Well, that blog post truly put a bee in my bonnet and made me want to have a chat with the bees in my flower garden. Perhaps tomorrow I'll do exactly that.

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    1. Your garden bees will be most appreciative. They may not stop working to chat but they love compliments.

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  8. Yes, we all should buzz a little bit! We need to buzz a little bit, grass seed sized brain or not.

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  9. Dear Geo.,
    this makes me think of "Chapter One. In which we are introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and some Bees, and the stories begin." From that we all know "And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey." (...) "And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it." So he began to climb the tree. '
    And falls down - coming to the poetic insight:
    "It's a very funny thought that, if Bears were Bees,
    They'd build their nests at the bottom of trees,
    And that being so (if the Bees were Bears),
    We shouldn't have to climb up all these stairs."
    So - if the stings meant death - maybe we would have more peace - though we sadly see that some people - if you promise them enough honey in another world - won't be kept from stinging. But normally it might help a lot.

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    1. Dear Brigitta, it is very true what you say. The desire for peace is indeed a personal adjustment deeper than the concept of weapons.

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    1. Pardon the intrusion, Geo.
      Good one, Lucy. I picture a bee in a monk's robe, writing the history of the english-speaking people.

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    2. No intrusion detected. Bede is honored by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans and Lutherans alike. A venerable Bead indeed!

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  11. Surely this is a site well worth seeing.

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  12. I am more geared towards a collectivist way of thinking as opposed to an individualistic way, even though that goes against what we in western culture are programmed for.

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    1. Certainly one needs some balance of both in the pursuit of happiness. There is much individual progress in collective bargaining, stability, family and government by discussion.

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  13. Bees are superb creatures. One bows to the bee (or bead, which is both superb and cute.)

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    1. Lisa, I have just run outdoors and conveyed your compliment to Bead. He will do a special dance over his hive this evening. I may join him!

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  14. I SO enjoyed this post! I will probably from hereon call them "bead."

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    1. Thanks, Lori. They do look like beads, don't they? Little furry winged ones.

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  15. I've been catching up on your last few posts, Geo. It's been quite hectic in my corner of the world recently. But I have very much enjoyed reading your wonderings on electromagnetic waves, beer and beads. I never thought about what caused us to see in dreams, so that post was fascinating! I spent a lot of time with third graders trying to make atoms, molecules, the EM spectrum, and photosynthesis understandable ~ at least on a conceptual level. At least bees and pollination were easier, because we could dissect flowers and go see a working beehive at the Butterfly museum. I'm not sure how well the kiddos grasped photons and EM waves, but we sure had fun breaking up sunlight streaming through the skylight in our otherwise dark classroom with a variety of prisms. I do love the enigmas you tackle, and I can't wait to see what you come up with next! Have a good one!

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    1. Fundy Blue, your comment comes at a most welcome time. Things have been uncharacteristically hectic here too. I love your take on 3rd-graders (am related to some of them) and have a measureless confidence in their ability to gain an introductory grasp of physics --their imaginations are more than equal to it. I also feel good about them someday running the world, if they don't already.

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  16. A documentary you must see: More Than Honey.

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    1. Thanks, Squid. Einstein thought humanity could live only 4 years without bees and nobody ever gained by trying to out-think Einstein. Imhoof's film is testament of supportive evidence, magnificently filmed, anent this hypothesis. So important to plant things bees need, and go easy on both pesticides and herbicides. Bees are tough, but their limits of chemical tolerance are too often exceeded with devastating effect. Glad you brought it up!

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  17. Clearly, I have to try conversing with the next bee I see. I've been stung twice in the past few weeks alone. Those guys never even give me a chance to dazzle them with my great skills of communication. Just outta nowhere... ZAP! In a crowd, they zero in on me. Maybe I should stop humming.

    Another super post, dude.

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    1. Thanks, Susan. Same thing happens to Norma. Don't know why. Maybe the beads zero in on those most likely to understand their pain ---give their lives delivering a message of ecological caution. It's not like they can write letters to congress. Norma now wears long sleeves outdoors and plants herbs and flowers to encourage bees. I stand around and hum. Yes, I've decided dudes can hum (but not whistle annoyingly or I'd get stung too!)..

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  18. Bead..what a name for a noble bee. Out in CA, the bee hives are dying and entomologists are racing to find the answer. Bees are essential to plant life. And for a good cuppa.

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    1. So far, I most strongly suspect incautious use of chemicals is causing colonies to collapse. Bees can't stay healthy on poison pollen. This can be fixed!

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  19. Bee-youtiful blog post :) A friend in bead is a friend indeed.

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