After a particularly dicey morning, I dropped the kids off at school and headed home. As I drove I was listening to a news report about a problem with bees in the United States. (I bet this is not what you expected to read on my blog today!)
As I listened, I learned that there is currently a growing concern over Colony Collapse Disorder which occurs when a bee hive appears healthy but suddenly, the worker bees do not return to the hive. In order to reach a diagnosis of Colony Collapse Disorder, there needs to be "capped brood" present (baby bees in little hive cells, still growing), a living queen bee and declining numbers of worker bees. (Hang with me here...)
There was a bee expert being interviewed about how he is dealing with CCD and the increasing numbers of dead bees. The belief is that the missing worker bees die outside the hive somewhere, which is why they do not return. The death rate is extraordinarily high and given the fact that their life span is only 1-4 months, this is a concern. The worry goes far beyond human honey consumption. Since bees pollinate crops, their absence greatly effects much of what we eat.
Then the expert said something that really caught my interest. He began to explain that they don't know why the bees are dying and that they are not even trying to figure that out. Instead, they are trying to extend their lives. He went on to talk about how they have been adding a protein supplement "glop" onto hives which causes the bees to worry about why something is messing up their workspace. They eat the "glop" in an effort to clean it up and then live 20% longer.
At this point, my mind is racing. Here are some of the questions that I began to mull over:
1. Do bees eat protein normally??
2. Is introducing a different food source helpful in the long run or the short run?
3. If they bees now have to clean their hive, aren't they doing less "bee work" anyway?
4. Is a 20% increase worth this approach? (I think we are talking about between 6-24 extra days in the life of a bee.)
5. And why, WHY, would you look for a solution before understanding the problem?
It is question #5 that perplexed me most. The problem is that bees are dying. The logical question is why. But this is not being asked and a solution is being concocted without an answer in place. Without really understanding, it seems to me, that the solution could actually become part of the problem. Without asking questions about the reality, how can you really effect the outcome? The problem is not bee life span. The problem is bee death. And, what if this protein "glop" actually creates other problems? What if it distracts the bees from bee work? What if it calls bears to the hives with its protein scent? What if it hurts the bees long term? I am no bee expert and I am probably missing some of the story. But, it seems to me the answer does not fit the question that bee experts need to ask.
As the story ended, I found myself wondering how often I do the exact same thing. How often do I look for a fast fix before trying to understand what is really happening before me. What effect does this have on our family life? Do I intervene in ways that effect change where change is needed, or where it is easy?
This morning was a little crazy here. The beginning of the school year can be that way. My kids are squirrely, our routine is still settling and we are all a bit low on sleep. One of my boys is fighting me, day and night, on everything from chores to clothes and I am feeling weary. This morning, I lost my patience, raised my voice and struggled with deep frustration. Doling out discipline in the face of disobedience can be an easy fix. For the sake of a 20% increase in the peacefulness of our morning, I chose an action and moved forward... without ever asking WHY. Why is my boy so frustrated? Why is his wick so short? What does he really need? The answer to our problem lies in the asking of these questions, not in the knee jerk reaction of power over position.
Looking around my hive today, I am reminded that the work that we do is not short term. As mommas to our babies, the questions we ask ourselves about the little ones at our knees matter far more than the behavior we are seeing today. Behavior begins somewhere. It has a purpose. A frustrated child acts out. An attention-needing child gets loud. A sad child might be mad. A stressed child causes stress. A confused child seeks (or creates) order. A needy child seeks structure. And all of this, all of this, can be impacted by our contact with them. Processing can release frustration. Time can offer attention. An embrace can release sadness. Assistance can eliminate stress. Clarification can clear confusion. Lap-time fills neediness. We have what it takes... if we are not distracted by the short term... if we do not offer up the "glop".
Our lives at home can be hectic. So it is in my home, too. And we will not always respond the way we wish that we would. But this morning, I was reminded that my work is worth more than the keeping of bees. I was reminded of the futility of offering what is not needed without ever asking the deeper questions of my kids. When I ask, when I think, when I wonder, when I reach out, what I will find is the place where my babies and I connect. What I will discover in that place is a sacred spot that I was always intended to fill. Yes, sometimes I will miss it. Sometimes, my short fuse will stand in my way. But sometimes, I will see it and act and be love incarnate in the life of my child.
Even in the midst of busy days and nights, let's be mindful of our need to slow down. Let's look around our hives today and take a deep breath and ask the hard questions and offer what is needed in place of what is easy. I know how tired we get. But there is energy to be found in the loving of our kids, in listening to them laugh and in knowing them well... good days and bad.
Blessings on your day.