The problem of bee colony collapse may be due to inbreeding and disease, and world populations are still in a free fall according to The Guardian. While wild bees might be contracting viruses and spreading them to each other, according to research reported by treehugger, the reality of colony collapse disorder threatens the pollination and production of our food sources. I’m wondering if bees are feeling stressed and therefore more vulnerable to disease, in the same way that humans can find themselves more susceptible to illness when under various types of psychic pressure. I’m not attributing human-like consciousness to bees. I am however assuming bees have immunological systems that can be impacted by increased production of cortisol or other glutocorticoid hormones, or their equivalents in insects. Can environmental change cause the type of stress in bees that can weaken their immunological defenses? Understanding what is happening to the bees is important to us for three reasons.
First of all, the bees may be extra-sensitive. They could be something akin to the canary in the coal mine. Perhaps what is happening to bees could happen to people if we continue to create such pressured lives that don’t respect the boundaries and limitations of our physical selves.
Second, bees are integral to the production of food upon which human survival depends. If pollination enables our diets, then there is a relationship between people and bees and their fate is intricately connected with ours.
Finally, everyone grows up with associations to bees, especially bumble and honey bees. They are a part of our childhood psyches, and children dress up as them for Halloween and birthday parties. The news of their threatened demise supports the idea of irrevocable environmental loss – causing people to feel more helpless and passive in response to environmental changes.
The bees may or may not have useful information for us humans. Since we might not be able to know for sure, what would be wrong with thinking about the plight of the bees as indicative of what can happen to all creatures when our immune systems become overtaxed by a failure to respect physiological and environmental limitations. The mental health of many people I see in my practice improves measurably when they eat healthily, exercise regularly, and sleep well, and take time to make use of different parts of themselves through intimate involvements with others, participation in the arts, and connectedness to whatever ecosystems they happen to inhabit. When this stuff is taken care of most of the complicated psychological dynamics that “drive people crazy” become ordinary and analyzable issues of humanity.
I’m wondering if even the bees would have more resources to fight the viruses and fungi that afflict them if they weren’t dealing with other physiological pressures brought on by environmental imbalances that remain possibly undetected by the human sensory system.