In the age of reality tv and what seems like persistent unconscious chatter, it is rare to hear a voice as deliberate and thoughtful as that of Michael Thiele.
I was sitting in a room amongst bee enthusiasts at Honey Love headquarters in Los Angeles a few weeks back listening to Michael share his perspective on bee keeping. There was a quiet and gentle tone to the space which was punctuated with the sound of camera shutters and a periodic gurgle from the coffee machine. Michael's words dominated the sonic landscape in their slow and conscious flow - as if he took the time to study and reflect upon the impact of his thoughts before they came out.
For the first hour or so into the talk, you might be surprised to know, bees weren't really discussed. Instead, the focus was placed on a few deeper and more philosophical questions. "What determines what we see?" Michael asked. And, "What is it we don't see when we look into the world?"
The point in asking these questions was, on some level, to acknowledge our human limitations. " We see things we are schooled to see or want to see." Michaels approach to the hive is revolutionary. "It's about recognizing the frequency our mind is set to and forgetting everything we think we know about bees. To truly understand them, we have to understand them from a different mode of awareness."
His humility is fascinating to watch. Though contributing an entirely new perspective to us as his audience, Michael isn't taking the traditional role of a teacher. He is a student of the bees. Not afraid to question himself, his own pattern of thinking and is quite comfortable uttering the words, "I don't know."
To a degree, I have failed Michael for using the term 'bee keeping' in this post. One thing he made sure to bring to our attention is language we are using to define things. Take the term 'worker bee,' for example. It is an expression that does not reflect the entirety of a being but rather, highlights what we want from the bee. Our words can be mechanical and limiting.
We were about half way through the talk when someone raised their hand to ask Michael if he was going to share about himself and let us know how he got into bee keeping. "We all have our stories that bring us to the bees," Michael said in a tone that indicated this talk was not to be about him.
In full disclosure Michael told us he had started dreaming about bees one day and shortly thereafter a swarm of bees came to his cottage.