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August 1 2020
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The bee is a super-organism, as this advertisement, created by artist Willard Frederic Elmes in 1929, illustrates.

When we find ourselves in times of trouble, Mother Nature comes to us, speaks words of wisdom, and says, “Let it be.” This we know. The Beatles told us, 50 years ago. However, as John, Paul, George, and Ringo were hotter on songs than on spelling, I know they wouldn’t mind if I say that you are herewith instructed not to let it be but to let it bee. Why? Because, in our hour of darkness, we can look to the humble honeybee for guidance on how to handle ourselves.

Let me count the ways in which bees can help us through this terrible time, starting at the shallow end: their excellent sense of fashion. Yellow and black stripes with fur against a floral background as they zoom around while we stay inside on Zoom—very on trend and a reminder of what freedom feels like. To get deep, we depend on them, literally. Last year, at a ceremony with real people hanging out closely together like bees in a swarm, the Earthwatch Institute declared them the most important species on the planet. It’s the flowers. Pretty much everything comes down to pollination. The biologist Thor Hanson even took apart a Big Mac and found that, with the exception of the beef and the bun, more or less everything else came from the bees.

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