The Tao of Bee'ing

This article is written by one of our volunteers Arya Salehi who has a great passion in bees. Full article can be seen here.

Global surveys show that bee populations are dropping, largely due to human activity. Why do bees matter in ecosystem? How can a human involve to build a sustainable and balanced ecosystem?

Earth is an ecosystem and the whole thing is made up of its interactive parts. The cycle where animals feed plants or animals feed each other. Everything is connected in a big network. Let’s say that earth as a whole ecosystem with plant, animal, and human. Imagine if no human, perhaps plants and animals would flourish.

World Wildlife Fund stated that the world loses 18.7 million acres of forests every year due to deforestation in agriculture. The impact is enormous since 80% of earth’s land animals live in forests, including bees. Bees rely on forest where they seek for food. Bees serve the queen and make honey. In addition, they also replenish the biodiversity of the ecosystem. This relationship is mutually beneficial.

One honey bee could visit up to 1000 flowers on a trip. In a typical bee colony with 25,000 forager bees, each makes 10 trips a day pollinating 250 million flowers per day. This act of cross-pollination is needed for trees and flowers to reproduce. An NGO called Bees for Development performed a study in Africa which revealed that the production of cashew tree were 2 to 3 times higher when honey bees were housed near the trees.

In order to restore the health of ecosystem, a few potential solutions can be done such as reducing chemical usage and eco-farming. In China, the value of exported organic products increased from $300,000 in 1995 to $300,000 million at the end of the year 2004 indicating a positive trend in organic products.

Walden Farm is a family farm in Northern Sichuan which has adopted the eco-driven model of organic farming. Their mission is to create a sustainable model for rural development at the heart of Taoism, an ancient Chinese philosophy. Taoism offers an ecological view of things which bees embody. Taoism teaches how to see the whole and allow one’s actions to arise from bigger vision. A full embrace of Taoist teaching means living symbiotically with planet.

At Walden Farm, chickens are free range in accordance with the ration of chicken count and grazing area, also partnering with neighboring farms to preserve bees. Volunteers are guided in a free-flowing manner to explore what they like to work on. I signed up as a volunteer for two weeks and after learning that I like Poetry, Lin the volunteer manager told me, “enjoy your stay and write your poems.”

I felt guilty to just write poems since they provided food and housing and other volunteers had done some really cool things like build houses and paint big paintings. Eventually, I eased into the experience and began to write, which is what I like anyway. 

The Yin and Yang is a core symbol to Taoism which expresses the dynamic balance that exists within nature. The health of the system depends on how well this balance is preserved. An eco-view sees the interplay of dynamic expressions that mutually benefit the individual and the whole. On the other hand, an ego-view perceives things in isolation, in fixed states which can have adverse impacts on the environment.