This article opens the box on the disappearing honeybee issue, so-called Colony Collapse Disorder, by using spiritual ecology and the indications of 20th Century renaissance man, Rudolf Steiner, to look at the common denominator of suspected causes. If entrenched analysts, who have been concertedly looking at external threats for the villain, were to turn their sights 180 degrees, they would discover that "we have met the enemy, and the enemy is us!" - that is, overall human interference.

A report from Earth Vision,
The EV project - taking nature to a new level
by Josef Graf – Summer, 2007

Diseases and parasites, such as the invading Eurasian varroa mite, when looked at in the same light as other modern agricultural issues, actually presents itself as a red herring for anyone in pursuit of the central cause of bee decimation.

While definite losses have accrued as a result of varroa, it is almost certain to be a temporary phase. The situation is not unlike problems in other areas of modern agriculture. Using the cattle industry as a choice example, it is not actually pathogenic forces that are threatening stocks but, rather, decades of contrivance and intercession by means of antibiotics, hormones, and other artificial “propping up” of the species that have weakened and degraded the overall constitution of the species. (And let us call events like Mad Cow disease a symptom, not a cause, of the bottoming out of the cattle industry.)
Witness the decidedly hale condition of the bison alongside the debilitated circumstance of cattle. In a word, predation strengthens a species, and interference with that predation leads to debilitation. The finest shepherd ever invented, in terms of a keeper for the bison herds, was Canis lupus, the common wolf.
There are times, and this includes livestock, bees, and any other biological form, when a producer has to “take in on the chin” and let the species evolve by allowing the surviving, adaptable members of the population reproduce. The result will be an enviable level of wholesomeness in both species and product.

This leads on to the heart of the matter - too much interference. For example, in a bid to avoid having to work with a species that can become what humankind deems as overly aggressive, we have been cultivating a more “docile” temperament in the bee, therefore, unlike its more combative relatives in other parts of the world, who are able to bite at, mutilate, and dispose of the varroa mite, our more passive breeds are not equipped to handle these intruders.

Excessive interference and the foresight of Rudolf Steiner

In deference to the spiritual science of Rudolf Steiner, it needs to be said that this modern Renaissance man predicted in 1923 that if humanity continued to cultivate the honeybees by artificial means, we would, within eighty years, witness the mass disappearance of the bees.

Arguably the best-kept secret of the 20th Century, in terms of a resource for social transformation, Rudolf Steiner, in his series of lectures entitled “The Bees,” gave numerous indications to portray the intricate nature of the honeybee community.
In capsule, Steiner warned against both meddling with the natural process of hive society and artificially manipulation of queen bees.

The following list of ways humanity is known to interfere with the natural process of bee life, while substantial, is no doubt incomplete:

- The raising of larva in separate quarters, arbitrary feeding of royal jelly to produce queens, then shipping by post to keepers.
- Selection of bee populations for docility, de-selecting for aggression.
- In contrast to the normal 5 or 6-year life span of a queen is, “re-queening” after one or two years.
- The grafting of queens - moving larva to artificial cups, then cages for transport.
- Supplanting guard bees with protective measures of humans.
- Keeping hives hyper clean, to reduce production of “nuisance” propolis.
- Using chemical control agents for disease and pests.
- Providing ready-made combs in place of bee-constructed combs, to save work (production time) for the bees.
- In a similar vein, supplying sheets of wax, so bees don’t have to gather and secret their own wax.
- Use of ventilators so the bees don’t have to tend this.
- Use of queen excluders to prevent eggs being laid in inconvenient areas of the hive.
- Moving of hives over long distances at the will of human intention.
- Clipping of queens’ wings.
- Agricultural practices consisting of monocultures that wreak havoc on honeybee diets, limiting options once the dominant crop is no longer flowering.

The foregoing list delineates some of the many strategies used to manipulate production. Clearly, mankind is capable of invention. In fact, we are able to wax clever, even to the point of genius. However, it appears that when we fail to perceive the whole picture, we fall short of the masterful way that a naturally developing hive proceeds.

Perhaps there are effective ways to work in harmony with the bees, even using a certain degree of creative intervention. But just which particular intercessions will time prove to be both wise and productive, in terms of a win-win for both bee and human?
Who can know, but those who gain utmost understanding of the synergy and multi-dimension of the bee kingdom?

Leo Tolstoy, after his own lengthy study of bees, had this to say: “The higher the human intellect rises in the discovery [of the bees’ aim], the more obvious it becomes that the final aim is beyond its reach.”

The most essential thing we learn from reviewing the Steiner material is that beekeepers would do well to acquire a metaphysical understanding of bees and the complex masterpiece of the hive.
Mystery lives in the hive, and within the golden elixir that is honey, mystery we have yet to, or may never, discover.

Spiritual ecology holds that the first step in addressing an issue pertaining to the realm of nature is to deepen our understanding of the overall synergy of the particular eco-community in question.
Meanwhile, the short answer, at least for consumers, is to buy only honey produced in an organic manner.

To access the complete article on this issue, as presented by Earth Vision, visit the site:

Josef Graf
nature in the light of spiritual ecology

The Earth Vision website presents spiritual ecology, the interweave of nature and humanity, by addressing current issues, as well as through five books that open the reader’s perspective by means of the following approaches to eco-spirituality: geographic; seasonal; art, history/reincarnation, and humor.
Visit the site at

Author's Bio: 

Dubbed “a modern Thoreau” by one reviewer, Josef Graf’s diverse background was bound to culminate in the Earth Vision project. A split degree in Sociology/Ecology was followed by work as a trail guide, co-ordinator of a nature interpreting program, assistant to Native cultural enhancement, radio host, and Waldorf teacher. Blending this array of experience with graduate study in the “university of wilderness,” plus two decades of anthroposophical research to penetrate to the heart of both human and wild natures, has generated the spiritual ecology of Earth Vision.