Monthly Archives: June 2010
Whilst riding the bus the other day, an interesting thing happened. A man got on, attached his bike to the front of the bus and then proceeded to take a seat. He immediately opened the window wide and allowed the cool breeze to flow in, it was a hot day. For whatever reason this guy stood out to me and i continued to watch him. Softly gazing out the window, with a outwardly content demeanor, he suddenly yelled out to the driver. ‘STOP THE BUS, STOP THE BUS!’ Faces turned with WTF!? written all over them.
He then calmly walked to the front announcing ‘ I gotta go clear some wood’. He then ran off into the road and swiftly cleared the obstruction by booting it to the side. It was a curvy road, nearing the end of a highway. A dangerous spot I know, because i often cycle that road my self, cars go down the hill pretty fast, eager to get into town. Bemused heads turned as people looked to see what was going on.
A few minutes later he returned and sat down. The first thing i thought to do upon his return was clap, it was my first reaction, although i didn’t raise my hands to do so. The energy of those around me, made me second guess my instincts and while over thinking it, i missed the chance, and then regretted it. A bunch of people at the back of the bus, must have made a comment or gave a funny look. To which the blond haired hero replied ‘ what, it could have been a mother and her baby, driving down there’. And seemingly now more content than before; he closed his eyes, puffed out his chest, and breathed deeply. As the bus began to pick up speed, his long golden hair started to blow in the wind and he resembled that of a Lion, basking in the sun.
Have you ever wondered why it is that some people act heroically in certain situations, whilst others don’t?
One professor by the name of Dr. Philip Zimbardo, has some interesting ideas on the subject in his article titled the ‘banality of heroism’. The first step toward a heroic action is nurturing what he calls ‘heroic imagination’. His concrete steps are as follows:
1: Maintain a critical awareness of situations that may call for heroic action.
2: Learn not to fear conflict for staying true to your principles.
3: Imagine alternative future scenarios, and learn from mistakes.
4: resist the urge to rationalize inaction and develop justifications that recast evil deeds as acceptable means to supposedly righteous ends.
5: Try to transcend anticipating negative consequence associated with some forms of heroism, such as being socially ostracized.
Have you ever committed a heroic deed?
What were your reasons, and how did you feel at the time?
Picture courtesy of Google
‘The Bee practices by his meritorious and ingenious exertions, that which becomes a blessing to the world’ - J. Northcote’
Less than 10 feet away from where I sleep lies a vast city, an empire of sorts. It’s inhabitants are in the thousands and come and go all day long. This city does not have a power hierarchy as such, although they do have a queen. The queen is dearly loved by all and is fed and aided by her closest ones. The queen spends most of her time with the arduous task of population control. In fact it occupies much of her life and she may only venture out from home a handful of times, if that. In times of distress, the queen can count on those around her to protect her at all costs, even if it means death.
The farm I’m working at has a bee hive and the bee keeper came to harvest this week, so we have been slowly working our way through a baking tray full of sweetness. I managed to get some video action while the mood in the hive was mellow. You can check it out below. The honey tastes amazing, it’s deep in flavor and has all sorts of hints that i can’t quite put my finger on. The bees here have ample pickings for nectar and pollen, as there are plenty of edible, as well as regular flowers, all over the place. I like walking past the hive, closing my eyes, and tuning into the stream of buzz. Almost every second there is motion to and from, and it sounds sweet when bees whiz pass your face just inches away. You can hear that these bees are on a mission and wont stop until it’s complete. I actually got hit in the head once as i was ‘tuning in’, i now walk a touch faster.
I recently discover that almonds are my ultimate snack whilst riding, I mean i already knew all the great nutritional aspects that almonds provide. It’s just that when I’ve been riding on an empty tank, almonds really pulled through for me and kept my legs spinning when i needed it the most. And then I find out that without bees, almonds wouldn’t be around, every almond we eat has been pollinated by a bee. In fact, it is said that bees pollinate one third of all the food we eat, you name it apples, oranges, carrots, onions, all require the honeybee to spread the pollen that has attached it self to the bee.
It is widely acknowledged that bees are dramatically decreasing, they are disappearing/dying on a huge scale. There are a lot of theories as to why this s happening, some blame global warming, the use of pesticides/chemicals, radiation, viruses, diseases, over working bees etc.
One thing is for sure though, without bees, we’re screwed. see http://www.aworldwithoutbees.com/ for more info.
I just finished reading The Life of the Bee by Maurice Maeterlinck. I found it fascinating and unexpectedly much deeper than i thought it would be. You can read it online at http://www.honey-health.com/honey-99.shtml .
Here are some extracts from the book to accompany the bee action. If you find that the video stutters, click the ‘turn off HD button.’ The photo’s that follow are of the different types of flower the bees collect from around the farm.
‘The spirit of the hive’
‘The spirit one morning will coldly decree the simultaneous and general massacre of every male. It regulates the workers’ labours, with due regard to their age ; it allots their task to the nurses who tend the nymphs and the larvae, the ladies of honour who wait on the queen and never allow her out of their sight ; the house-bees who air, refresh, or heat the hive by fanning their wings, and hasten the evaporation of the honey that may be too highly charged with water; the architects, masons, wax-workers, and sculptors who form the chain and construct the combs; the foragers who sally forth to the flowers in search of the nectar that turns into honey, of the pollen that feeds the nymphs and the larvae, the propolis that welds and strengthens the buildings of the city, or the water and salt required by the youth of the nation. Its orders have gone to the chemists who ensure the preservation of the honey by letting a drop of formic acid fall in from the end of their sting ; to the capsule-makers who seal down the cells when the treasure is ripe, to the sweepers who maintain public places and streets most irreproachably clean, to the bearers whose duty it is to remove the corpses ; and to the amazons of the guard who keep watch on the threshold by night and by day, question corners and goers, recognise the novices who return from their very first flight, scare away vagabonds, marauders and loiterers, expel all intruders, Attack redoubtable foes in a body, and, if need be, barricade the entrance.’
‘Here again we touch one of the thousand enigmas of the waxen city ; and it is once more proved to us that the habits and. the policy of the bees are by no means narrow, or rigidly predetermined ; and that their actions have motives far more complex than we are inclined to suppose.’
‘Four or five years will be the period of her life, instead of the six or seven weeks of the ordinary worker. Her abdomen will be twice as long, her colour more golden, and clearer ; her sting will be curved, and her eyes have seven or eight thousand facets instead of twelve or thirteen thousand. Her brain will be smaller, but she will possess enormous ovaries, and a special organ besides, the spermatheca, that will render her almost an hermaphrodite. None of the instincts will be hers that belong to a life of toil ; she will have no brushes, no pockets wherein to secrete the wax, no baskets to gather the pollen. The habits, the passions, that we regard as inherent in the bee, will all be lacking in her. She will not crave for air, or the light of the sun; she will die without even once having tasted a flower. Her existence will pass in the shadow, in the midst of a restless throng ; her sole occupation the indefatigable search for cradles that she must fill. On the other hand she alone will know the disquiet of love. Not even twice, it may be, in her life shall she look on the light — for the departure of the swarm is by no means inevitable ; on one occasion only, perhaps, will she make use of her wings, but then it will be to fly to her lover. It is strange to see so many things — organs, ideas, desires, habits, an entire destiny — depending, not on a germ, which were the ordinary miracle of the plant, the animal, and man, but on a curious inert substance : a drop of honey.’
The male bees
‘From noon till three, when the purple country trembles in blissful lassitude beneath the invincible gaze of a July or August sun, the drones will appear on the threshold. They have a helmet made of enormous black pearls, two lofty, quivering plumes, a doublet of iridescent, yellowish velvet, an heroic tuft, and a fourfold mantle, translucent and rigid. They create a prodigious stir, brush the sentry aside, overturn the cleaners, and collide with the foragers as these return laden with their humble spoil. They have the busy air, the extravagant, contemptuous gait, of indispensable gods who should be simultaneously venturing towards some destiny unknown to the vulgar. One by one they- sail off into space, irresistible, glorious, and tranquilly make for the nearest flowers, where they sleep till the afternoon freshness awake them. Then, with the same majestic pomp, and still overflowing with magnificent schemes, they return to the hive, go straight to the cells, plunge their head to the neck in the vats of honey, and fill themselves tight as a drum to repair their exhausted strength ; whereupon, with heavy steps, they go forth to meet the good, dreamless and careless slumber that shall fold them in its embrace till the time for the next repast.’
The nuptial flight – where the queen receives the ability to give birth to female bees.
‘She starts her flight backwards; returns twice or thrice to the alighting-board; and then, having definitely fixed in her mind the exact situation and aspect of the kingdom she has never yet seen from without, she departs like an arrow to the zenith of the blue. She soars to a height, a luminous zone, that other bees attain at no period of their life. Far away, caressing their idleness in the midst of the flowers, the males have beheld the apparition, have breathed the magnetic perfume that spreads from group to group till every apiary near is instinct with it. Immediately crowds collect, and follow her into the sea of gladness, whose limpid boundaries ever recede. She, drunk with her wings, obeying the magnificent law of the race that chooses her lover, and enacts that the strongest alone shall attain her in the solitude of the ether, she rises still ; and, for the first time in her life, the blue morning air rushes into her stigmata singing its song, like the blood of heaven, in the myriad tubes of the tracheal sacs, nourished on space, that fill the centre of her body. She rises still. A region must be found unhaunted by birds, that else might profane the mystery. She rises still ; and already the ill-assorted troop below are dwindling and falling asunder. The feeble, infirm, the aged, unwelcome, ill-fed, who have flown from inactive or impoverished cities, these renounce the pursuit and disappear in the void. Only a small, indefatigable clustei remain, suspended in infinite opal. She summons her wings for one final effort; and now the chosen of incomprehensible forces has reached her, has seized her, and bounding aloft with united impetus, the ascending spiral of their intertwined flight whirls for one second in the hostile mad- tress of love. ‘
‘No sooner has the union been accomplished than the male’s abdomen opens, the organ detaches itself, dragging with it the mass of the entrails ; the wings relax, and, as though struck by lightning, the emptied body turns and turns on itself and sinks down into the abyss.’
‘when the breathless queen has reached the alighting-board, some groups will form and accompany her into the hive ; where the sun, hero of every festivity in which the bees take part, is enter ing with little timid steps, and bathing in azure and shadow the waxen walls and curtains of honey. Nor does the new bride, indeed, show more concern than her people, there being not room for many emotions in her narrow, barbarous, practical brain. She has but one thought, which is to rid herself as quickly as possible of the embarrassing souvenirs her consort has left her, whereby her movements are hampered. She seats herself on the threshold, and carefully strips off the useless organs, that are borne far away by the workers ; for the male has given her all he possessed, and much more than she requires. She retains only, in her spermatheca, the seminal liquid where millions of germs are floating, which, until her last day, will issue one by one, as the eggs pass by, and in the obscurity of her body accomplish the mysterious union of the male and female element, whence the worker-bees are born. ‘
The massacre of the males
‘One morning the long-expected word of command goes through the hive ; and the peaceful workers turn into judges and executioners. Whence this word issues, we know not ; it would seem to emanate suddenly from the cold, deliberate indignation of the workers ; and no sooner has it, been uttered than every heart throbs with it, inspired with the genius of the unanimous republic. One part of the people renounce their foraging duties to devote themselves to the work of justice. The great idle drones, asleep in unconscious groups on the melliferous walls, are rudely torn from their slumbers by an army of wrathful virgins. They wake, in pious wonder ; they cannot believe their eyes ; and their astonishment struggles through their sloth as, a moonbeam through marshy water. They stare amazedly round them, convinced that they must be victims of some mistake and the mother-idea of their life being first to assert itself in their dull brain, they take a step towards the vats of honey to seek comfort there. But ended for them are the days of May honey, the wine-flower of lime trees and fragrant ambrosia of thyme and sage, of marjoram. and white clover. Where, the path once lay open to the kindly, abundant reservoirs, that so invitingly offered their waxen and sugary mouths, there stands now a burning-bush all alive with poisonous, bristling stings. The atmosphere of the city is changed ; in lieu of the friendly perfume of honey, the acrid odour of poison prevails.’