The Symbolic Nature of Colony Collapse Disorder. What is the meaning of billions of vanishing honeybees?
Its been rainy and gray for days now and the honeybees that usually frequent the lavender bush at my front door have been few and far between lately. I miss them, the beauty of their flight patterns as they move from blossom to blossom, the sound they make that is so deeply universal and archetypal, I think it must be the constant and infinite sound of creation that exists at the core of the universe. When they show up, I find myself rooted in place, watching them in awe as they extend their tiny tongues (probiscus) to taste the flowers. That's just me, but then, I have a special relationship to bees.
I completed my first Master's degree in Depth Psychology at Sonoma State University. My thesis became an investigative inquiry into the implications of a compelling and inexplicable event that grabbed me and ultimately shook me upside down: the sudden mass vanishing of billions of honeybees in what is now termed Colony Collapse Disorder.
Examing the potential symbolic significance of bees in light of their mass disappearance at both an individual and cultural level is a rich undertaking. Bees have existed for nearly a hundred million years and have been significant to humanity from our earliest origins.
Using learnings from Jung, I observed the ongoing loss of honeybees from the shamanic perspective of soul loss, contemplating how, when bees fail to return to the hive, they hive suffers terribly.
Next, I examined the increasing rift between humans and nature in relation to colonization, which might also be considered as apparent factors in the condition of colony collapse.
Last, I explored the link between the bees and the goddess of universal mythology in an attempt to understand how the increasing loss of the sacred feminine from our worldview correlates with the plight of the dying honeybee.
The conclusion of my work, in the end, is that it is critical for each of us to look at how the symbolic meaning of Colony Collapse Disorder calls for regarding and beholding difficult situations and conflicting elements in order to allow Jung's "transcendent function" or "third thing" to emerge. I believe that rather than simply attempting a rigid and surface attempt to analyze and fix the issue of the dying honeybees--and to stave off our own potential colony collapse on a human scale-- we must return to earth and to nature--both inner and outer.
"The upheaval of our world and the upheaval of our consciousness are one and the same.”
--(Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, p. 215)