Absolutely Delightful Honey

beekeeping hives in an orange grove

Bee Basics

By on April 4, 2014

A Super Organism

The honeybee is estimated to be 30,000,000 years old.

Everybody or most everybody knows that honeybees live in colonies in structures called hives. This all seems elementary. A bee is a bug that flies and lives with a bunch of others in this kind of apartment complex thing that, we humans call a hive. The bees all get together and build these somewhere..right? Right OK fine.

Well that was all well and good until a fellow named Johannes Mehring (1815-1878) comes along. Johannes was a cabinetmaker and an apiarist, meaning he was a beekeeper. Johannes came up with the bright idea that a bee colony, the hive and all the bees that fly to and from it, is actually a single being, equivalent to a vertebrate animal. This was nearly two hundred years ago that Johannes came up with this.

According to Johannes the worker bees represent the body organs that take care of maintenance and digestion while the queen and drones represent the male and female sex organs.

This is kind of a different way to look at things isn’t it?

The biologist William Morton Wheeler (1865-1937) coined the term “superorganism”. He is referring to ant colonies. This term has now been taken and applied to bee colonies as well. The highly respected contemporary scientist, Jürgen Tautz author of the popular book titled, “The Buzz about Bees” has, pardon the expression, upped the ante. Jürgen holds that a bee colony should actually be considered a mammal. If I understand Jürgen correctly, he is saying that the superorganism, known as the bee colony, if not completely mammalian, it is at least mammal like. He holds that a bee colony is not only a single being, but is smarter the some vertebrate animals.

For the Bee Informant the world has become a slightly stranger place since seeing Jürgen’s view.

What first comes to mind for the writer is simply this; If we know the workers are the digestive-maintenance organs and the drones-queens are the reproductive aspect, well then…where is the mind or more easily located where is the brain?

This study of bees as a superorganism is another opportunity to look at the life of individuals and feel the wild wonder of life on this here planet, Earth.

Since the writer knows almost nothing about bees, he will necessarily, proceed simply at first. Then as his own understanding grows, perhaps he will go deeper toward understanding, that is, understanding at least this one being, in God’s great existence. Perhaps this superorganism, can help us to percieve our own being a little more clearly?

It is from Jürgen’s book, “The Buzz About Bees”, that my future writings will be based. That is at least until further notice.