From antiquity, human beings have cared for, and held sacred, the honey bee. In return for a home and warmth, she has given us light, sweetness and medicine; we've placed her in fields of flowers and she has fructified our crops in abundance. We have gained a great deal of knowledge from the honey bee and still we are awed by her mysteries and wisdom. Understanding the deep wisdom and generosity of the bees, Rudolf Steiner College keeps several hives in a natural, respectful way.
Over millenia, our relationship with the honey bee has become interdependent. The bee regulates the pollination of the fields such that every third bite we eat comes from a crop pollinated by the bee. This relationship stands, now, delicately in the balance.
Additionally, we have become more and more responsible for the breeding of the bee herself. Beginning one hundred years ago, we began to manipulate and control the reproduction of the bees. In 1923, Rudolf Steiner gave a series of lectures on the bees, in one of which he indicated that if we were to continue to artificially breed the honey bee, she would become extinct within 80 to 100 years. That time is upon us. Within the past two years we have seen 40-80% extinction rates of domesticated honey bees.
Rudolf Steiner College is actively researching ways to support the honey bees. Understanding that the honey bee's vitality and vigor is related to its ability to follow its natural instincts, we follow a natural, respectful code of beekeeping. The honey bee is allowed to breed naturally, swarm, build her own honeycomb, forage in organic and biodynamic fields; she is not treated with chemical pesticides and is not fed on corn syrup or soy protein. Recently, we have also begun to investigate alternative hive structures. The results from these simple, commonsensical steps have proven positive. The honey bee, having the ability to follow her instincts, can resist disease and mites.