Sunday, February 14, 2010

Are we awakened?

Somewhere in a small Buddhist shrine...
High among the mountain forests of the Japanese island of Honshu, a bee farmer and his friends, also farmers and men of the earth, gather to mourn and pay their respects at the demise of a hive of imported European Honey Bees. The cause of the slaughter? A very large squadron (about two hundred) Giant Japanese Hornets, the largest of all the Wasps.

“How bizarre!” someone might say. “A bunch of farmers mourning the deaths of a bunch of bees?” Someone else might say: “Serves them right for importing the European bees. Don’t they have any of their own?”

The answer: “Yes, Japan has its own Honey Bees and although they are brilliant at pollinating, they don’t produce the volume of honey that their European counterparts do; hence the importation.”

The point here?
The point is that this Japanese bee farmer and his friends did two things that make them good stewards and custodians of the earth. First, they paid homage to the bees for the benefit they and other humans derive from the bees' existence. Secondly, they mourned, taking responsibility for the destruction of the bees. You see, the European Honey Bee has not adapted to the Japanese ecological system yet and therefor has not evolved to the point that it can offer an effective defence against such an attack. These farmers know that and that is why they gather to pay their respects to their insect brothers.

Back in South Africa
I know a man who rents a large house on a smallholding. Apart from the large house, there are two cottages on either side. In the roof of one of the cottages, a swarm of bees has established a hive and have been very busy doing what bees do, these last few months. This man I know, calls up a friend, also a man who lives close to the earth and it just so happens that this friend is a bee keeper, who makes honey mead amongst other things.

This friend agrees to come and inspect the hive and tells my friend that it will cost R 500 to have the swarm removed. My friend, who realises that, although the bees are doing what bees do, their activity must eventually cause some damage to the ceiling of the cottage. My friend calls a meeting with his landlord and discusses the possibility of having the bees removed and placed in a proper hive, but the landlord, upon hearing what the cost of the removal would be, calmly says: “I’d rather get pest control in and eliminate them permanently.”

The real point

Have we so-called Westerners become so desensitised in relation to our natural world that some of us would regard a swarm of bees as being pests? Is R 500 to a property developer too high a cost, as opposed to safely relocating a swarm of man’s most under-rated friends, in the interest of a healthy ecosystem?

Something is wrong here.

Who is the more honourable custodian; the bee farmer who mourns the loss of a hive, or the wealthy property developer? I guess it’s a case of where you have your hands… in the earth or firmly gripping your cheque book!

I have said this before and I will repeat myself… we are all inter-connected and yes, Honey Bees are our insect brothers.

I received a mail today in which there were photographs of Koala Bears, suffering from the recent high temperatures in Australia, approaching cyclists for water. In another picture, one little creature, when entering a house to escape the heat, was offered a bowl of water and promptly decided to get into the bowl to cool off. The caption at the bottom of the mail read:
Until one has loved an animal, a part of their soul remains unawakened…”

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