The Wisdom of Bees

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
 Emily Dickinson

The story of the bee is closely entwined with that of the flowering plant world. Splitting off from their wasp ancestors around 100 million years ago, bees and flowering plants arose together - as bees developed a new taste for sweet nectars and pollen produced by flowers, flowering plants began to diversify and flourish. In return for their sweet floral offerings, bees provided these plants with pollination services, successfully transferring genetic material from plant to plant that led to rapid speciation and diversification.

This exquisite coevolution has given rise to much of the beauty and splendour - the scents, colours and shapes - of the flowering world that we enjoy today. It has also provided us with many of our favourite fruits, nuts, vegetables, beans, fibres, spices and medicines. In fact bees pollinate one or more cultivars of over 66% of all crop species and contribute to one third of the food we eat. Indeed a world without bees would be a world without berries, coffee, tea, chocolate and cotton!

It is awe-inspiring to think that one small creature can have had such an influence on the course of Earth's natural history.  Bees are a litmus paper – the proverbial ‘canary-in-the-coalmine’ - for the health of the planet: when all is right with the bees, all is right with the world.
The Way of the Honeybee
There are around 20,000 known species of bee. Most of these are solitary or subsocial but there is a small number of species that are truly social and live in large colonies. The honeybee, Apis mellifera, is amongst these and is one of the most studied organisms in the world. Living in colonies of between 10,000 - 80,000 individuals, the honeybee colony operates as a superorganism that is female-led, collaborative and works for the good of the collective.
Fascinated by the honeybee colony, we take huge inspiration from honeybees in the running of Therapi. As nature's greatest alchemists they inspire our formulations; as industrious workers they motivate us to focus on what matters; as evolutionary pioneers they show us there is strength in doing things differently; as agents of biodiversity they demonstrate that variety brings resilience; and as winged messengers they teach us that we are each part of an intricately connected and beautiful system. Fine-tuned and infinitely complex, we form the very fabric of nature  - what we do to nature, we do to ourselves.