Monday, March 12, 2012

The Bee Hive: Further Light on This Symbol

I have the pleasure of being part of several interesting groups on Facebook, and it never ceases to amaze me as to how seemingly unrelated groups can post items that I find of interest for the other groups to which I belong. Recently, I came across an article that, while discussing human evolution, noted some interesting facts about bee's. I found the writing so interesting, and the implications so far reaching, that I felt it had to be shared among the Brethren. Below, you will find the article's excerpt regarding bee culture. If you would like to read the article in its entirety, here's the link: 
"Generally a group of insects like bees will move from behaving as individuals to forming colonies when they are storing food (like honey or pollen) that comes from multiple sources. At that point, a colony has a better chance of surviving than an individual.
Could Humans Evolve into a Giant Hive Mind?But the big transition moment from individual to colony — like the yeast snowflake moment — comes when two bees engage in a division of labor. Hölldobler believes the first division of labor is probably when one insect becomes a reproducer and the other takes care of her babies instead of reproducing herself. She sacrifices her ability to reproduce for the greater good of the burgeoning colony. This crude division is between a reproductive caste and a worker caste. In a typical bee colony, you have bees who care for the young, make honey, and forage for food — and that's just the beginning. Highly complex ant societies have many other castes, including things like farmer castes, garbage collector castes, and major fighter castes who are ants fed special foods to make them grow much larger than other ants in the colony.
What's truly amazing about these insect societies is that, despite the familiar terminology, they don't actually have a queen or ruling class. The queen is simply part of the reproductive caste, ensuring that the hive has a lot of genetic similarity (like our multicellular yeast) and continues to produce young. But each worker has evolved what Hölldobler calls an "algorithm" for making decisions about what jobs to do when, based on communicating with other insects and what caste it is currently in (bees, for example, pass through several castes as they age). There is no insect who is a master controller, who understands the totality of what's happening in the hive.
So colony societies or superorganisms evolve when some individuals give up their reproductive rights and create a division of labor. This scenario is often a response to environmental pressures, such as the need to store food from many sources and protect against many enemies at once. Colonies only survive because they are fitter than individuals in such environments, and there are examples of colony organisms gradually evolving back into individuals when the environment changes.
It seems to me that it is possible that our earlier Brethren understood this dynamic, and alluded to the success of bee colonies as a template for the success of Freemasonry as an institution. Is this not what is encouraged within our Lodge rooms so as to perpetuate our noble and glorious Craft? In this metaphor, the Temple becomes the hive, and all act accordingly. 
I would be interested to hear from the Brethren regarding this thought Please sound off and voice your opinion! For more reading about the beehive, check out what the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon have to say about it: Freemasonry & Bee's.
Bro. Earnest


  1. A lot of funding is being directed toward 'trending' and figuring out how this modern hive mind works, not to mention the traditional psychological theories that are ever applicable. A matter of macro and micro perspective... as above so below :)

  2. Interesting Dubious. I'm curious, what do you think this says about Freemasonry, if anything?