What if, deep inside every human being, there is an inner steward of the earth?
If that were true, then there might be some for whom that inner steward has always been conscious and engaged with the world. And, there might be others for whom, sadly, that inner steward remains dormant their entire lives. And then, there might be some like me for whom, later in life, that inner steward...
... wakes up.
And for me, when that happened, it changed everything. It certainly made a radical difference in how I view my relationship with, and my responsibility to and for, honey bees.
I believe that our worldview, whether we're conscious of it or not, informs everything we do. When it comes to beekeeping, a person's worldview may lead them to become a beekeeper who engages in what is commonly called conventional beekeeping, or, perhaps, their worldview may lead them to become a honey bee steward who longs to understand the nature of the bees themselves and to simply help them to thrive in the world.
Here is just one example of contrasting worldviews that could form and inform our beekeeping choices:
There are some who believe that when we work with the earth's natural systems we create health and wholeness, and when we try and improve upon the earth's natural systems we invariably create disease. There are others who believe that mankind ultimately benefits if we start with the premise that we can improve upon nature, and then work to do so.
We've probably all known people who fall into one of those two camps. And it's easy to imagine how each of those worldviews could lead a person to choose a particular approach to beekeeping. And there are many approaches! I've written a little more about that here:
For myself, the awakening of my inner steward of the earth began a transition from Conventional Hobbyist Beekeeper to Natural Hobbyist Beekeeper to Bee-Centered Beekeeper to Preservationist Beekeeper. And, I believe that it is probably inevitable that I will continue to move along the spectrum toward Relational Bee Person and then to Re-Wilder.
It's seems that it would be important for a would-be beekeeper or honey bee steward to be conscious of their worldview. It may help them to more quickly identify who they want to be in their relationship with honey bees. Here in the United States that question of worldview is rarely considered before a new beekeeper plunges into the world of beekeeping.
As I've written elsewhere, regardless of where we may choose to land on this beekeeping approach continuum, I believe that it is not helpful to villainize others who have chosen to land in different places on the spectrum. There is a common denominator that unifies us all: we all want our honey bees to live. It is that very deep, heart-felt desire that can cause beekeepers of all varieties to be very passionate, and sometimes even very dogmatic, about the approach to beekeeping that they've chosen.
For myself, my worldview includes this: the bees know best what's best for the bees. We need to let the bees teach us.
Song of Increase by Jacqueline Freeman