|Leon Gerome Ferris. The Mayflower compact. 1899|
As this swarm dangles form some tree limb, its special scout bees check out the adjacent territory. When they return, they communicate their finding to the swarm in a special dance. Here’s the passage that has been "buzzing" in my head since morning:
One point Seeley makes in his book is that scouts never blindly copy each other; each scout dances only to promote a site that she has inspected herself. Moreover, the intensity of promoting the site naturally decays over time – and individual scout will advocate for a site only for a limited amount of time and then will retire and rest. Both of these behaviours minimize the perpetuation of errors.
|A swarm has left from a beehive and was standing on the branch of a tree.|
|L.N. Tolstoy. Self-portrait. Photo. 1862. Collage by the author. 2011.|
How many scout bees do you know among your friends, how many times have you seen them dance their unique dance to promote a new site for our hive thought to colonize that they discovered in their imagination? How much you admire their intensity only to register with sadness that it lasted “only for a limited amount of time” - before they, too, shuffled off to “retire and rest.” Apparently, not everything is lost! What a comfort it is to realize that there is a higher purpose to all of this odd and, in the light of common, practical wisdom, thankless behavior!
So next time your inspiration makes you think of yourself as bee's knees and you throw yourself into a dance, do not despair if your immediate audience is not moved. Even as your inner conviction decays over time and you "retire and rest" in fatigue and disappointment, be assured: you have made a contribution by putting a small dent in our species' perpetuation of errors!