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The Bees' Answer

Dreamed 1994/8/2 by Chris Wayan


I've been reading a curious book: "How Monkeys See the World". Vervet monkeys have a lot of social smarts--but then, survival and reproduction are enhanced by a strong network of relatives and friends. No surprise there. And yet... they can't extend their sharp observations of (and predictions of) monkey behavior onto snake or leopard behavior, despite the vast survival advantages. For example, they recognize other animal calls, but don't seem to connect tracks with the animal that left them.

I wonder if intelligence isn't best judged by, not the smartest things an organism can do, but the dumbest. The holes where it can't apply its intelligence are the limits of its breadth or flexibility--a better measure than cleverness limited to one context.

And I read this lying sick in bed in a room full of dust, which I'm violently allergic to. Yet I won't vacuum, for reasons I don't understand--other than my fear of triggering an immediate attack.

Ask my dreams "What is this sickness. Am I creating it by being stupid?"


I dream of bees--from a bees'-eye view. I'm touring their hive, huge as a city. Rooms full of honey and pollen and royal jelly--propolis, it's called, the food of queens, that makes them queens--chemical ambition!

To my human eye, the city's beautiful and oddly futuristic. Their hexagonal esthetic! The place makes us humans look, well, square.

The bees call their city Propolopolis. I feel rather dizzy from the buzzing and endless climbing as I tour the maze. Oh! I'm still not well, my illness has followed me into my dreams--a rarity for me.

Inside the bee-city of Propolopolis, I felt a bit dizzy from the hexagons and the hum.
My tourguide, a very kind worker bee, gets worried about me. So she takes me to the bee doctor.

And she recognizes my symptoms immediately. She says crisply "Your illness has two common names: 'Repressed Ambition' and 'Denied Potential'."


And I wake up.

A bit stunned, I write down the doctor's diagnosis. It's reassuring that my current illness isn't primarily medical, but I'm a bit disturbed at what it is. Can I trust this message? Well, I asked, and I got answered. Better take it seriously! "If I keep aiming low in life," I write, "I'm going to stay sick."

And then I wake again, to find my interpretation was part of the dream.


Tonight, I'm the doctor--a shamanic doctor, investigating a man's mysterious health problem. It turns out to be caused by a spell of time-reversal! I don't know quite what this means yet, but it's very important. And the time-reversal spell has an image linked to it: bees!

I think back to Propolopolis and wonder "What is it with me and bees?"

I wake, and write that dream, and realize the recurring images of bees could symbolize conformity--giving up individual identity for the welfare of the hive. (Though recent research shows bees actually make individual career choices, change jobs a lot, and learn to master more responsible jobs as they grow older; their skills are by no means all instinctual. Still, like most humans I grew up thinking of bees as selfless.) If that's what bees mean to me, the dream may be warning I'm at risk of giving up MY identity for others. Does that explain why I repress my ambition, deny my potential? Am I that hungry to beeeeelong?

I write that down...

And wake again. To find that this bee dream, too, was careful to interpret itself.

LISTS AND LINKS: A retelling of the same dream in hexagonal comix: City of Bees - I'm Just Not Myself Today! - gender-bending dreams - species-bending dreams - bugs - recurring dreams - doctors - shamanism - diagnostic dreams - environmental illness - ambition - individualism and identity - dream cities dream comics - architectural dreams - I dream I'm stuck in a Bee Movie

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