Keeper of the Bees

Paleolithic paintings depict humans collecting honey. Honey existed before Cronos was overthrown and before vine was cultivated. As an infant Zeus was fed by the bees. Honey and the bee are among out oldest motifs.

The stem for honey µελι- ('meli') appears throughout Greek poetry in words used to describe the poetic craft such as sweet-voiced (µελιγάρυς) and honey-tongued (µελίγλωσσος) for those blessed with eloquence of words. Honey is generated as signals are transmitted between flowering plants. It is poetry itself.

Honey is many things, it's fertility, regeneration, and preservation, it is an offering to the gods and the dead. It is life and death; it is poetry and information. And a hint at the eternal.

People have looked into a buzzing hive and seen ourselves. Aristotle described bees as not only social but political. The English monarchy has used bees to legitimize a queen in power and suppress revolts of workers.

It's said that animals exist in the biome to move plants around. Perhaps the implication for behavior lies not within the organization of the hive, but with the relationship to systems and maybe the bee has created the alchemical gold that has made us all inseparable. Ecology the word used to describe relations between all living organisms in the web of life, and the term economy: the allocation and flow of resources, both have roots in the Greek word for household οἶκος (oïkos).

Systems, within systems, within a system: οἶκος

Warmth from the body of the many on the body of one. An embrace of a hive is both intimate and terrifying as a sting from one bee could spread a signal, in the language of pheromones, leading to a chain-reaction of stinging. Aristotle said that the beehive is not only social, but political. The nature of bees and their honey is a topic rich of imagination and a motif with deep traces in our mythologies.

Over time one can learn to sense the mood of a hive, by listening. Asger Søgaard is a scientist with more than forty years of experience of working with bees, he works as consultant of the Danish Beekeepers Association and served ten years as the president of the International Federation of Beekeepers' Associations.

Asger studies the three-way interaction between bees, humans, and modern ecology.