Communicating about Bees – Following the Example of the Bee

|   Botanik, Ökologie, Landschaft

Johannes Wirz

An important form of communication in the beehive is the so-called “waggle dance”. With them, forager bees indicate to their sisters the direction, distance, and quality of the nectar source. Without this form of communication, a colony could not survive.

In 2020 I spent about eight weeks working with introductory courses in biodynamic beekeeping, online events with bee friends in the USA, UK and Portugal, article writing, the English translation of the book on biodynamic beekeeping (with Norbert Poeplau), conferences, lectures, guided tours and individual consultations, and bee visits. Like the bees, I hope I have been able to communicate directionally, with realistic assessments of the length of the road towards bee-friendly, spiritual beekeeping, and with the necessary passion for it.

I would like to highlight three moments in particular. The first was a seminar with employees of a medium-sized carpentry company for exhibition stands, catering equipment and kitchen construction. The managing director had asked me to practise decision-making with the participants, just like bees in a swarm do when choosing a new home. This includes diligence, full transparency of all available information, assessments of all participants, renunciation of “lobbying” and a quorum decision of 70 %. For the first time, the development department, the manufacturers, the logisticians, and the finance people met for a joint discussion – and were happy to be able to discuss the complex processes in each area and find forms of a structured decision. This event was a highlight.

The second happy event was the guidance of a meditation entitled “The Earth is our Sun”, which was offered online because due to Corona the seminar “Bees and Spirituality” could not be held as a face-to-face event. With about 50 participants, despite the digital technology, it was possible to create a kind of resonance space and silence that touched people deeply, with people from all over Europe.

The third highlight was the visits to the apiaries, where a small group or individuals were able to get a glimpse of the inside of a bee colony, often for the first time. Even after more than 20 years of experience, I still find immersion in this peaceful world of busy bee activity combined with scents and warmth impressions is part of the magic of beekeeping. Children often have the most fun. After some initial hesitation, they like to scoop out a bit of honey with their finger from a honeycomb filled with bees. One lively girl was rebuked by a bee with a sting. Crying, she called out to me, “Now I’ll never go to the bees with you again!” A few minutes later she was standing at the open hive again asking: “Can I have a bit of honey again?”

Snow-white honeycombs built in the darkness of the hive always arouse amazement and awe in visitors and are a sign of the vitality of young bee colonies.