Occupy Wall Street: 

Lessons The 1% Could Learn from Bees

Swarm of honey bees.Swarm of honey bees.


As thousands take to the streets on Wall Street, in protest at the shenanigans of the the bankers, stock traders and corporate world, I find myself asking: ‘What lessons could the Wall Street 1% learn from bees?’.

I believe nature is a great teacher, and that man has much to learn from it.

Social insects like bees, appear to instinctively display values such as:

  • co-operation,
  • all individuals positively playing their part,
  • the good of the whole, 
  • what’s good for the whole is good for the individual (or at least, the majority of individuals!),

    ......and so on.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against prosperity – but I’d like to see it underpinned by fairness and consideration for the good of society and the earth as a whole.


Honey bee on purple loosestrife.Honey bee on purple loosestrife.

Jacques Vanière summed it up nicely in the following poem, The Bees:

By hoarded wealth no individual tries

Above the modest citizen to rise;

    No sordid av’rice taints the generous mind;
    Their stock in common lies to all resigned;
    And when in civil compact they unite,

No state is so observant of the right.


Let’s look at the honey bee colony. In a honey bee colony, the 1% might be represented by the queen honey bee.


Whilst it might seem like she is in the position of dominant power, tended and fussed over by thousands of workers, the reality is that much is expected of her – she either serves the good of the colony, or she’s out.


If only the Wall Street 1%, heads of major organisations, and all political leaders could learn these lessons from bees:

    act for the good of the whole, or ultimately, you are out.

History shows us that eventually, this is the case. There is only so much injustice a liberty, freedom and fairness-loving people will take.

But alas, it may take a great deal of time for our Wall Street 1% to learn the lessons from bees, especially if a study at a Swiss University is to be believed.


Honey bee on sneezeweed.Honey bee on sneezeweed.


In a feature in Der Spiegel International Online, summarising the study (“Share Traders More Reckless Than Psychopaths, Study Shows – 28 September 2011), the study was outlined, in which the behaviour of 28 professional traders who took part in computer simulations and intelligence tests, was compared with the behaviour of psychopaths.

    “Share traders behave more recklessly and are more manipulative than psychopaths.” - said the paper.

Honey bee on pink geranium.Honey bee on pink geranium.

Knoll, a lead administrator told Der Speigel:

    “"Naturally one can't characterize the traders as deranged....But for example, they behaved more egotistically and were more willing to take risks than a group of psychopaths who took the same test……………………… And they spent a lot of energy trying to damage their opponents."


Der Speigel continued.....

    "Using a metaphor to describe the behaviour, Noll said the stockbrokers behaved as though their neighbour had the same car, "and they took after it with a baseball bat so they could look better themselves."”

Well, not exactly flattering findings are they?

As for me, I really hope things change soon, and that humanity as a whole wakes up to the many lessons nature can teach us.




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