It’s Time for Us to Bee Audacious!

Why must we Bee Audacious?

Bonnie and her bees

Bonnie Morse, Beekeeper and Bee Audacious Project Manager

by Bonnie Morse

I have worked with animals and plants in one capacity or another for much of my life, though my introduction to bees and beekeeping was somewhat accidental and happened when we discovered that our neighbor was keeping bees. The thought of multiple boxes full of stinging insects in an urban area was a little alarming at first, but over the next couple of seasons, we became very invested in them; observing changes over the season – more deeply connecting with observing them foraging, and what they were foraging on – and observing seasonal cycles of the hives from afar, was quite fascinating. We finally decided we wanted a closer look and acquired a swarm through a local beekeeper. Our first colony led to a second within a week.

We were hooked.

Bees are on the frontlines of a constant, massive effort that keeps the Web of Life going and growing through their simple yet significant role: pollinate. As someone who both loves bees and appreciates living, I’m of course concerned about the challenges facing honeybees – and so many other pollinators – directly related to the actions and impacts of humans. Massive die-offs, increasing pathogens, greater incidence of pests – the bees are having a tough time. And if the bees fail – we’re in serious, terrible trouble.

So how do we stabilize this crisis and turn it around? Surely no one person or group has all the answers. It will take teamwork and a hive mentality combined with creativity and perseverance. When I read Mark Winston’s Manifesto, which calls out the crisis the bees are facing and the great need for new and audacious thinking and action if we are to survive – I was inspired. Our survival and that of the bees is inextricably linked. We need to get together so that we can work forward, together. Hence, the Bee Audacious conference was born!

Leaders, participants, volunteers, sponsors and donors all have good reasons to support this very intentional, specifically invitational conference. We’re bringing some of the top bee experts from around the globe to engage with beekeepers and scientists, educators and growers, a variety of people numbering no more than 100 individuals out in West Marin’s Marconi Conference Center. Some look forward to sitting down with colleagues, to exchanging ideas in a gathering long on dialogue and short on PowerPoint presentations. Others hope for the opportunity to create space and context for well-qualified experts to potentially push through ideological stalemates into new, common territory. Some are coming simply to take part in an intentional conference designed to help the bees, for the bees do need our help.

Whatever the case, whatever the motivation, the outcomes from this conference – the first of its kind – will take us closer to solutions and practices that will help us navigate through this crisis.

bee_flowerIn recent years, the honeybee has been emerging as a conduit for learning and understanding in many directions. Remarkable things are happening through the efforts of inspiring and motivated individuals and groups. Together we are seeking to generate needed new ideas and share key knowledge that will increase the chances for the survival of the bees—of all life.

We are coming together to understand how to take best advantage of this unique point in history; a time when the precipitous and now public awareness that there are dramatic challenges to survival for the species, Apis mellifera, that is directly related to our current commercial system of agriculture that has evolved to support a rapidly growing human population. It’s clear that it’s time for change, and change that is born of dire necessity. We cannot continue along this path of business as usual. The changes that need to be made need to be made systemically and they need to be made quickly, while we still have time to safeguard the wellbeing – perhaps very existence – of our collaborators in pollination and global food production.

We have an opportunity right now. This is a small window through which we can either increase the general understanding about our world’s life-support systems – upon which we all depend – or squander this life-giving gift through willful ignorance and small-mindedness. Basing our concerns around short-term economic necessities and running from problems that are “too hard” is not an option.

Through observations of the hive we know that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and that the contributions of the individual are nothing if the whole can’t cooperate for the greater good. By now we should have learned that the egoism that has allowed our species to prosper over time and reach it’s current apex is orienting us towards total systems failure. If we cannot quickly learn to cooperate and collaborate with and appreciate the contributions of all species within the web of life, we are surely doomed.

My own enthusiasm for this conference stems from the hope I get that we may yet reverse our current destructive course as a species when I witness the changes that occur in people who have the opportunity to consciously interact with bees. Not only do they begin to make intentional changes in what they plant in their gardens, the products used in/around their homes, and how they spend their food purchasing dollars, they also begin to think about how the small changes they make contribute to the collective whole. They recognize at some important level that they – we – are part of a greater whole. Interactions with these remarkable insects create a profound connection to the environment and make one reflect on how the actions of one effect our survival as a human hive. Bees are wonderful teachers.bee_finger

The Bee Audacious conference – also known as Audacious Visions for the Future of Bees and Beekeeping – is an opportunity for progressive, thoughtful people to join together in respectful cooperation and collaboration. Together we can envision a path on which our bees and those who manage and depend on them can prosper as we move forward. And if we do this, then we all prosper, globally, from the simple actions of the bees, multiplied billions-fold every second of every daylight hour all over this magnificent planet.

This conference will help us understand where we are, where we need to go, and how to get there. This conference is a needed and timely step forward towards a sustainable future where biodiversity is the norm, not the exception.

Bold, common sense action is needed now. Time and funds are short. Generosity that is tied to our global survival is needed like never before.

It’s time for some audacious thinking about the future of bees and beekeeping.

Get your tickets – help the bees.