Tag Archives: bees

The role of the steward in sustainability

Stewards delight the stakeholders.

Delighted bees produce lots of honey.

Delighted bees produce lots of honey.

In a business the customer and the employee are stakeholders.  These stakeholders derive a benefit from the business, participate in the business and have a say in the business.  The stakeholder operates out of self interest and participates in a small way in the business.

Above the stakeholder is the steward.  The steward is responsible for the whole business, they operate for the good of the business rather than out of self interest.  The steward is like a loving parent in that they will protect, feed and guide the business so that all the stakeholders benefit from a healthy happy and abundant business.

In the relationship between bees and the beekeeper it may be considered that the bees are the stakeholders and the beekeeper is the steward.  If a beehive has happy healthy bees the beehive will be abundant with honey.  The beekeeper as steward is focussed upon the needs of the bees so they remain healthy, happy and abundant.

The beekeeper has three roles as steward: protection, guide and feeder.  In protection the beekeeper protects the beehive from disease, weather, humans, vermin and poison.  As a guide the beekeeper may intervene in the activities of the beehive to assist the bees, for instance if there is problems in the egg laying of the queen bee.  As feeder the beekeeper provides access to resources of food and water for the bees.

The focus of the beekeeper as steward is on the well being of the bees in their care.  The steward as beekeeper will know their bees, see from their point of view, act in ways to delight rather than harm their bees.  The focus is bees first steward second.  Bran the Blessed amongst the Celtic peoples said: “let them who be chief be a bridge to their people”. The steward is a bridge to their bees. The bees see the steward as friend rather than enemy, one of them.

One may say of a beehive that it is an energy system, for which the steward seeks to be healthy, happy and abundant; that the beehive has processes which the steward assists for the best possible benefit to the beehive; and the stakeholders the bees who participate in the processes which the steward seeks to delight.

Delight is a wonderful word.  Delighted bees make lots of honey.  Delighted readers follow blogs.  Delighted customers pay lots of money.  Gardens that delight birds, butterflies and bees become an animal paradise.  Delight is part of a creative process, and the steward delights in all they do.

Truth is Relative

Go beyond the appearance and the behaviour to the nature that underpins everything. 

The truth of being a cat is relative only to this cat.

The truth of being a cat is relative only to this cat.

Recent events got me thinking about what truth is.  I find that nobody has a monopoly on truth, that truth is relative.  Take for example the colour red, I see red as red, the bee sees red as black.  Truth is the product of self, the bee brain makes red black and my brain red as red; truth in this sense is relative to the beholder of the truth.


Take the example of God, some believe in God, some reject God, some like me sit on the fence as agnostics.  Those that believe in God differ on what God is: energy, gravity, a mind, with no mind, in creation, separate from creation.  God is one of those ideas that can neither be disproved or proven with any certainty.  Truth is relative to the beholder.

Nothing is certain.

Truth then to me is never one conclusion, but can be a diversity of conclusions.  Red can be red but can also be black depending on the beholder, thus truth is relative.  It is better to say I believe the truth to be, rather than say this is the truth.  With the universe composed of visible and hidden variables, always changing and in feedback loops nothing can be claimed with any certainty.


Since truth is relative it is better to say that I act and think according to a belief rather than a truth, the same for everyone.  When the word belief is mentioned some people choke on it, they believe that the universe is deterministic, that there is only one truth, often the one they believe it to be.  It is apparent neither bee or I have a monopoly on the truth of what the colour red is, we hold different beliefs of the colour red relative to ourselves.

The hubristic need to monopolise belief.

I see no harm in a world holding a diversity of beliefs.  So what if a Native American believes a tree has a spirit, a belief based on animism? Yet to the Christian missionary the Native American is a lost soul to be saved, and to the Atheist the Native American is one to be converted to the progress of modern science.  The outsider has this need to force their own beliefs onto the Native American, resulting in widespread suicide, mental illness, drug abuse and alcoholism amongst the people whose belief systems they obliterated.  The need of some to westernise Islam or Islam to convert the West sets the scene for a so-called clash of civilisations: violence, hate, fear and anger.

Black swans.

Even in my own empirical and inductive approach to truth, I know I can only draw a probability of truth.  I may count 1000 white swans on a lake and conclude the world only has white swans, then one day a black swan appears.  I have to be open to the possibility of black swans, which is a position of humility.

Hubris hates diversity of belief.

The individual or group who claims their truth is the only truth is gripped in hubris.  Truth is relative, there can be many truths. Hubris follows through to control, the individual or group needs and acts to force their belief upon other people who have a different belief of a truth relative to them.  Those inflicted with hubris hate diversity, they only want one truth, that of their own.  The horrors of Nazi Germany, or the Crusades or of Vietnam was because a group of people wanted a world based on their own beliefs with all other beliefs eliminated.

Grounding belief like roots of a tree.

A belief should be grounded like a tree has roots that anchors it into the ground, otherwise it moves into fantasy.  To ground a belief it is to be tested by asking questions, by looking for observable, experiential or demonstrable evidence of its existence.  A belief untested but accepted without question is ignorance, it is opinion.

Follow the common.

When Heraclitus suggests “follow the common”, he means to deal with things based upon their nature: it is common for all ducks to love water; it is common for all energy to flow; it is common for all things to evolve or change through strife.  Heraclitus suggests people go beyond appearances and behaviour to the underlying nature of the universe, and in this one grounds belief in the common of reality rather than in the ignorance of opinion.

Sustainability and artificial intelligence

Technology can be used to assist sustainability.


AI is a tool that could help humanity to live sustainably.

In the UK we are in the midst of a scandal involving some of our hospitals.  Starved of money and people one hospital was the cause of an estimated 400-1200 deaths over five years.  None of the agencies that were supposed to monitor standards of care and the welfare of patients identified the problems until too late.

When one is dealing with a complicated system like a hospital the problem is that nobody seemed to know what the other person is doing.  Too many patients were left unattended, thirsty, starving and without their needed medication.  Resources were wrongly allocated or poorly recorded.

When I think of beehives, those bees operate as one mind, they are constantly communicating with each other through smell, sound and dance.  If a bee encounters a problem it gets to work to resolve the problem whilst sending out a signal to others to assist it.  Bees have excellent communications systems.  This sort of communication system is not possible amongst humans, but could be possible using artificial intelligence.

One or a group of human minds could not possibly know at every moment about everything that is going on in a large hospital, but an artificially intelligent mind could.  An AI mind can have a working inventory of every piece of medical equipment in the hospital; it would know where the equipment is located and how it is being used.  If the AI is aware of equipment needing replacing it can place an immediate order out for replacement, the same for all drugs.  In real-time the AI can cost every action and every piece of equipment used so that budgets can be better allocated.

With use of tags and a memory-map of the whole hospital complex an AI can communicate with everyone making sure staff are in those places they are needed, and that no patient is neglected.  For security the AI would be aware if an individual was in an unauthorised area, even if they carried no tag.

The AI could monitor that every patient was cared for, so they were clean, never hungry, thirsty and received the correct medication promptly.  The AI could have direct communications with patient, their family and outside bodies.  If there was a failure in care the AI could send out warnings, even to an outside monitoring agency if needed.  With access to patient records such an AI could watch for errors of misdiagnosis or incorrect medical processes.  The AI could communicate with patients via the internet even after they leave the hospital to monitor their recovery.

Had an AI been in place in the Mid Staffs Hospital hundreds of lives would have been saved, and hundreds more would have not suffered from poor care.

In my opinion AI is an essential tool of sustainability of any system of the future, specifically in that it can know instantly at any one time a vast array of variables, and can communicate in real-time to create an energy-efficient system for the benefit of humanity and the environment.

What is prosperity?

Prosperity is health, happiness and abundance.

Its a win-win relationship between flower and bee.

The fate of bees and humanity are linked.

Live a sustainable life and prosperity is yours.  The three elements of prosperity is health, happiness and abundance.  I describe these further as follows:


A subjective state of mind that comes from manifesting your full potential.


Self explanatory, but encompasses mind and body.


Your cup overflows with everything from money, friends, opportunities, energy, children, food, water.

Happiness, health and abundance are states, side effects of sustainability.  Think of a bee hive: happy bees, healthy bees and an abundance of honey.

Unsustainable activity reverses all three elements of prosperity: where despair replaces happiness; sickness replaces health, both in mind and body; empty hunger replaces abundance.  Where once was prosperity is the full horror of the wasteland as all energy systems collapse; nothing grows, nothing lives.

Miners used to go down the coal pits with a canary in a cage, and if the canary died they got out fast, for toxic gases where present.  The bee is such a canary. What happens to bees will happen to everything and everyone.  The bees are the prophets of prosperity or wasteland.  If the bees die so will humanity.

The choice is for everyone to make.  Live a sustainable life and enjoy prosperity; live an unsustainable life and face the wasteland.

Bottom-up is better than top-down decsion-making

The study of bees shows bottom-up decision-making works.

Bees are an example of a bottom-up approach to decision making.

Bees are an example of a bottom-up approach to decision-making.

Bees run their bee hives without a central control, no managers and no team meetings.  In most corporates humanity needs a central control, managers and team meetings. The bees suggest that humanity can do away with centralisation, managers and team meetings.

In bee society every bee has the skills, resources and knowledge to meet their role.  Bees operate in real-time a communication system that is sending information backwards and forwards quickly across the colony.  If a bee encounters a problem it shares this information with other bees, who all deal with the problem immediately.  Bees need no managers because they are capable of dealing with problems on their own, whilst as the decision makers at “ground zero” they have no need for a centralised control system.

The internet, smart phones and GPS provides the means to build an instant communications system so that people can share information and coordinate in real-time without the need of meetings.  If every individual has the skills, knowledge and resources for their role, the manager role is redundant.  If the individual has the authority to resolve problems at the local level without need to ask permission then no centralised control system is required.  Feedback mechanisms can be created for the purposes of quality control that can identify and communicate problems for immediate rectification.

What does this all mean to you and me? If there is a good communications system; access to resources, knowledge and skills; and authority to make the decisions and take action at the local level; then a bottom-up approach to sustainability is possible.  What do you think?



Sustainability Action 13: I joined Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth is an international organisation that campaigns for sustainable solutions to problems in politics, economy, society and the environment.  Friends of the Earth came into being after some members of the North American focussed Sierra Club broke away over nuclear energy; they are a decentralised organisation found throughout the world with chapters in most large population centres.  I joined the Friends of the Earth chapter in Colchester.

Global weather turns hostile

2013 likely will be worse than 2012 for extremes of weather.

Two glowing eyes in the clouds promises a harsh global experience in 2013.

Two glowing eyes in the clouds promises a harsh global weather experience in 2013.

A few days ago I was bouncing around Colchester happy as a bee as the mild spring brought pleasant weather after the floods of rain during December.  The winter in Britain depresses me for its cold and darkness, so I have been liking the mild temperatures this winter, with few frosts, tons of rain and one day of snow.

The blossoms are on the trees; foraging bees were out gathering food; the birds singing their hearts out, creating their territories and finding a mate; the first flowers of spring, including snowdrops were blooming.  At the back of my mind I warned myself to be wary of my optimism, for the British weather is a temperamental animal, which can turn nasty in an instant.  Today temperatures dropped more than ten degrees Celsius on the previous day, something that has an impact of a sledgehammer on the human body, which dislikes sudden temperature changes.  The savage frosts were back and a warning of snow was being made all over the internet.  Damn!

The observant can over time spot trends, which includes weather.  The news of the first ten days of 2013 is grim.  The Middle East has been hammered by the worst storms in ten years, heavy rains and snow; a sense of disbelief that Jerusalem is at a standstill due to heavy snowfall.  In the northern provinces of China winter fell like a hungry beast trapping more than a thousand ships in sea ice, and plunging temperatures deep below freezing point.  In the USA, suffering the continuing drought, winter storms dumped tons of snow on suffering Americans.  New Zealand is in drought, their rivers at the lowest point in years.  Record killer heat waves in Australia and Tasmania resulted in vast wild fires that destroyed homes, took lives and wiped out large swathes of forest and innumerable numbers of wildlife.  Distressed whales that usually visit in summer appeared in winter in Canada, and are a cause of concern being trapped under ice with a diminishing gap in the ice providing them with air.

My prediction is that the weather in 2013 is going to give humanity a worse kicking than it did in 2012.


Sustainability Action 10: I signed up to a sustainability seminar in Colchester.

Knowledge is power, for knowledge provides the keys to open doors to success.  My progress to be a sustainable individual is hampered by the limits on my knowledge; it is through education that I can increase my knowledge, thus to be a better sustainable individual.  I today signed up to a one day seminar on sustainability at Essex University in Colchester for next week.

I shall learn about how to involve other people in a cooperative atmosphere to design and follow a sustainable process that benefits society, business and the environment.  Currently the world follows unsustainable processes that will lead to human extinction; those processes need to be changed, and it requires all individuals to make those changes together if humanity is to survive.

Being a big brother or sister to animals and plants

Supposedly as the most evolved of animals we have a duty to look after the planet.

Be a big brother or sister to animals and plants.

Be a big brother or sister to animals and plants.

I today wondered how we should view our relationship with plants and animals.  Even though we often fail to live up to our potential, we are the most evolved species so far to walk upon this planet.  In my opinion since we are the most advanced of the animal species, we are in a relationship of being like a big brother or sister to fellow animals and the plants on this planet. We have a duty of care to look after animals and plants like a big brother or sister.  We are the stewards of our planet.

If we accept our responsibility as stewards, then we must enter the relationship with animals and plants with respect.  Cute and beautiful our little brothers and sisters may be, but they are unpredictable and dangerous, with the capacity to do us harm.  That which we will steward need the space and the opportunity to manifest their needs, so we need to develop strategies of co-existence and support to animals and plants.

A video on YouTube, a teaser for a nature documentary by the BBC on polar bears shows why animals and plants should be respected.  A hungry mother polar bear attempted for 45 minutes to get at a human in a glass box in order to feed herself and her two cubs; all she was missing was a can opener.  The BBC is famous for its nature documentaries, and this film will appear on BBC 2 on 7th Jan 2013; and for a short time after will be available on BBC iPlayer.


Sustainability action 4 : found location for beehive

My dream of being a beekeeper is for me a huge leap into the unknown.  Fear and procrastination has dogged me, so my New Year resolution of “getting off the fence” by boldly going forward to do what needs to be done to achieve my dreams is now in play.  Large challenges can be broken down into smaller stages, which makes them easier to achieve in small steps.  A major obstacle was finding a location for a beehive.  A neighbour has agreed to the location of one beehive on their land free of charge, the reward of me boldly taking the plunge and asking my neighbour if they would host my beehive.

As I have no experience of beekeeping I am only going to have one beehive this year, and learn through trial and error as the year progresses by looking after that beehive.  Next challenge is putting together the funding for the equipment, bees and the beehive.  As far as sustainability is concerned, looking after bees is putting energy back into the environmental energy system.