Today will probably be one of the last really nice days before cold sets in. Thursday it’ll start to rain and be in the low 60s, and I think everything will go downhill from there. If it isn’t at least 70, I’m too cold, and it generally doesn’t get nice again til sometime in the middle of June. The weather’s about the only thing I don’t like about this place.
So I spent my lunch time out on the green on the graduate campus, watching the bees flying in and out of their hive and collecting nectar from the field of clover under the apple trees. I had some left over barbecue from supper last night, and I dropped a couple of pieces of shrimp shell in the grass. A little while later, as the bees zrrrrrved from flower to flower, a wasp cut through their flight patterns to land on the shrimp. I could hear its mouthpieces cutting away at the shell to take a piece off to who knows where. Another wasp came by, and a brief battle ensued. Eventually one wasp would hover until the other left, then would land to feed, and so on.
It would be so easy to draw a dichotomy between the aggressive conflicts of solitary carnivorous wasps fighting over meat, and the communal sharing of vegan bees who live on the nectar of live flowers. This would, of course, be accentuated by human biases–bees are beneficial because they give us honey; wasps are bad because they don’t give us anything but stings.
Yet I see it as overly simplistic. Should the value of a species be gauged by our subjective judgements of them? Or is not every species special and beautiful for simply being what it is? How much of our conditioning and socialization colors our perceptions?
We can acknowledge our biases and our judgements, but also temper them with other approaches. Is there anything inherently wrong with many wasps being solitary by nature? Or with not creating honey? IMO, these are merely value judgements that privilege humanity and its needs and wants over those of the bees and wasps.
Or, to make a bad pun remiscent of elementary school, let the critters bee themselves.
We humans are so conditioned to make value judgments on everything. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a wasp being a wasp, however that works out. A friend once complained that she hated cats because they killed birds, and this friend is quite the “earth mama.” Her statement bothered me (not only because I adore cats) because it implied that something was inherently wrong with cats. That sounds more like some Christian making an argument for “original sin.”
I guess it gets tricky when you think, “Well, humans kill each other, too. I guess that’s just how we are.” Well…I do wonder. As societies, rules or standards for behavior help maintain order and balance. Even cats and bees do this. I think we have to hold our judgments lightly. If anything, nature’s mysteries convince me more and more that we are all connected. Humanity is only a part, and as long as we don’t put our selves up on the pinnacle of nature, it all makes sense. It’s humbling, yes, but why shouldn’t it be?
Actually, most bees don’t make honey either- it’s just honeybees, and a couple of other kinds.
Riverwolf–We really have gotten too big for our britches. I don’t think we need to be taken down a peg, so much as shown what else is out there outside of our own heads. Anthropocentric thinking is unhealthy for everyone.