Greater than the Sum of Its Parts: Depth Psychology and the Honeybee Hive

I am honored to have been invited to post a guest blog on the Pacifica Graduate Institute Alumni Association. It's about the Alliance and it just went up! Check it out if you have a moment:

Greater than the Sum of Its Parts: Depth Psychology and the Honeybee Hive

One glorious late spring day on Pacifica’s Ladera Campus I witnessed a humming, writhing, vibrant swarm of honeybees on a bougainvillea bush. It stopped me in my tracks, entrancing me with the sheer number and proximity of bees buzzing around what seemed to be a living, breathing organ that almost pulsed with power—what turned out to be, in the end, a mass of bees itself. It is no wonder that the beehive is known as a super organism, more than the sum of its individual parts.

I have been fascinated by honeybees since the first warning signs of an alarming phenomenon taking place in the natural world—a problem that came to be called “Colony Collapse Disorder.” In 2006, a significant number of beekeepers began reporting finding their hives unexpectedly empty, except for the queen and a handful of her attendants. To the great bewilderment and concern of scientists, the majority of the bees appeared to be vanishing without a trace.

Captivated as I was by this inexplicable disappearance of the honeybees, I set out to research it in depth, ultimately writing my Master’s thesis in depth psychology about the symbolic nature of bees and the significance of Colony Collapse Disorder, a theme I expanded to the notion of Culture Collapse Disorder when it came time to write my doctoral dissertation at Pacifica. My conclusions ultimately focused on the problem of separation and its implications. In Colony Collapse Disorder, bees seem to become disoriented and unable to go home to the hive. Their failure to return is a virtual death sentence for the individual bees, who are unlikely to live through the night when their wings grow too cold to carry them, and they are left alone, vulnerable, and unable to fend for themselves. It is also signals a death knell for the hive which, as more bees go out to forage and fail to return, grows empty and cold, no longer able to sustain itself as a buzzing, vibrant life force—both a container for and a source of life.

In contemporary western culture, humans, too, suffer from separation—the loss of connection to a larger web of meaning embodied by nature and enlivened by our now-forgotten ties to the sacred that was once the domain of our ancestors. While Jung, Hillman, and others have gone to great lengths to....Click here to finish reading on the PGIAA site

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