View From the Therapy Room

The Buzz About Bees: Life Lessons from Nature's Existentialists

Errolie Sermaine 3rd May 2024
World Bee Day

As World Bee Day approaches on Monday 20th May 2024, we take a closer look at these remarkable creatures that not only sustain our ecosystems but also offer profound insights into how we can live more mindfully and purposefully. According to the United Nations, bees are incredibly important to our ecosystem with around 75% of the world’s food crops, at least in part, depending on them as pollinators. Bees also produce honey, beeswax, and other products that are used in a wide range of industries throughout the world.

Without bees, our food supply would be severely impacted, but bee populations continue to face a number of threats, including habitat loss, climate change, and the increased use of pesticides. World Bee Day aims to raise awareness and encourage people to take action to protect bees and their habitats. There are many things you can do to help bees, such as planting bee-friendly flowers in your garden, avoiding the use of pesticides, and supporting local beekeepers.

With their industriousness and complex social structures, bees are often used as a symbol of existentialism, a philosophical movement that explores the meaning and purpose of life emphasizing individual existence, freedom, and personal responsibility. The bees’ highly organized and cooperative society is often seen as a metaphor for the human experience and the search for meaning in life. If we delve into the buzzing world of bees, what life lessons do they have to offer?

Imagine a world where every bee is a philosopher and every flower a metaphor for life’s meaning. Bees, with their tightly knit colonies and clearly defined roles, exemplify existential concepts such as purpose, freedom, and interconnectedness. Like existentialists pondering their place in the universe, bees too navigate the complexities of existence within the confines of their hive, making their own choices and creating their own meaning in a world that is inherently meaningless. Bees are known for their ability to adapt to changing environments, working tirelessly to build and maintain their hive, even in the face of adversity. This resilience and determination in the face of challenges is often seen as a lesson for humans in how to find meaning and purpose in life, even in difficult circumstances.

As Jean-Paul Sartre once mused, “Man is condemned to be free.” Similarly, bees operate within a structured society yet exhibit individual autonomy and choice. Each bee has a role—whether it’s foraging for nectar, tending to the queen, or defending the hive—but within these roles, they display adaptability and a sense of purpose. Just as existentialists assert that we define our own essence through our actions, bees embody the notion of finding meaning and fulfilment through their individual tasks.

But what else can we learn from these tiny existentialists? For starters, bees teach us the art of living mindfully. Bees are fully present in their work, focused on the task at hand without distractions. They show us the importance of being engaged in each moment, whether it’s gathering pollen or communicating through intricate dances.

In the words of Simone de Beauvoir, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a bee.” This adaptation of Beauvoir’s existentialist view reminds us that living deliberately—becoming who we are meant to be—is a process akin to the transformation of a bee from egg to worker. We, too, can embrace our roles and responsibilities with purpose and dedication.

Bees communicate through a mesmerizing dance—a symbolic language that conveys direction and distance to food sources. This intricate mode of communication reflects their deep interconnectedness and collaboration. Bees remind us that life is not meant to be lived in isolation; rather, it thrives through cooperation and community. In the words of British existentialist Colin Wilson, “The ordinary man is involved in action, the hero acts. An immense difference.” Bees exemplify this heroism through their collective efforts in sustaining their hive. They show us that our actions, however small, can contribute to a greater purpose.

So as we commemorate World Bee Day, let’s take a moment to embody the spirit of bees—working diligently, embracing our roles, and finding meaning in our interconnectedness with nature and each other. Let’s heed the lessons of existentialism that bees impart – live authentically, embrace freedom responsibly, and cherish the beauty of life’s collective dance.

Overall, the symbolism of bees in existentialism is complex and multifaceted, but it ultimately speaks to the human experience of finding meaning and purpose in a world that is often chaotic and unpredictable. By examining the highly structured and cooperative society of bees, we can gain insight into our own search for meaning and our role in the world.

Bees are more than just insects; they are nature’s philosophers, teaching us profound lessons about existence and mindfulness. This World Bee Day honour these tiny existentialists and their indispensable role in our world. Let’s heed their buzzing wisdom and strive to live with purpose, presence, and appreciation for the interconnected web of life around us.

In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” Similarly, the impact of bees on our world is vast and transformative. May we, like bees, contribute our unique efforts to the greater good and savour the sweetness of life’s journey, one mindful moment at a time.

Happy World Bee Day!

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Author Biography:

Errolie Sermaine is a BACP and NCS Accredited Counsellor and Clinical Supervisor. Since qualifying she has run a successful private practice and worked for a variety of organisations. She is also a fully qualified teacher and trainer with a wealth of experience of designing and delivering a huge a range of courses. Passionate about training counsellors, she has been the Clinical Supervisor for several Professional Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling courses, as well as the Designated Safeguarding Lead and Curriculum Manager for an Outstanding adult education provider.
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Please note that all beliefs, views and opinions expressed within guest writer articles are solely those of the guest writer and do not reflect the beliefs, views and opinions of London School of Counselling, this website or its affiliates.
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