DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE A BEE IN A BOTTLE?
Dee Chadwick
21 Nov 2021
I love bees. Because of what they do for us by way of pollination and providing honey. Because they are the emblem of my place of birth and upbringing. Individually small and seemingly insignificant, but great team workers with their allotted roles enabling them to be such a vital, usually taken for granted, element in our lives.
DO YOU EQUATE WITH THAT FEELING?

The feeling that the poor old bee experienced if trapped in a bottle? Maybe one of the many discarded bottles. Flung away rather than binned or taken home along with the dregs of what the bee recognises as an irresistible sweet treat. Or maybe a bottle trap set to actually catch bees, as well as wasps and flies, for them to perish in the sweet liquid within.
In many ways, we have advantages over the bee imprisoned in its actual bottle if we feel trapped in a metaphorical  bottle. Obviously our imprisonment is usually not literal, though I guess if we are physically trapped, we can equate with its presumed feelings of fear, distress, helplessness. Yes, I have felt this – once, on my own in a lift. Another time I was locked in a lavatory whose lock had broken; and, no – I didn’t resort to singing ‘Oh dear, what can the matter be’ etc – about old ladies locked in the lavatory. Neither experience was pleasant but in both cases I was able to summon help – the latter with a good old repeated loud bellow!!  Tales of my entrapment pale to total insignificance when compared with that of the Chilean miners in 2010 or the young Thai football team in 2018. What amazing rescues they were.
However, the bees apparently have to overcome a basic instinct that counts against their escape even if the neck of the bottle is completely unblocked. In theory, totally visible to them. As described in a piece by Ozan Varol entitled ‘Be More Like a Fly And Less Like a Bee’ in theladders.com –
‘Imagine a glass bottle with its base pointed toward a light. If you put half a dozen bees and flies into the bottle, which species would find their way out first? Most people assume the answer is bees. After all, bees are known for their intelligence. They can learn highly complex tasks—such as lifting or sliding a cap to access a sugar solution in a lab—and teach what they learned to other bees.
But when it comes to finding their way out of the bottle, the bees’ intelligence gets in their way. The bees love the light: They’ll keep bumping up against the base of the bottle—located at the light source—until they die of exhaustion or hunger. In contrast, the flies disregard “the call of the light,” as Maurice Maeterlinck writes in ‘The Life of The Bee’. They “flutter wildly hither and thither” until they stumble upon the opening at the other end of the bottle that restores their liberty.’
The afore mentioned short book was actually written in 1924, but is digitally available and well worth the seventy-two pence to download for an interesting read by a beekeeper who is also a1911 Nobel Prize in Literature winner. A different spin to the ‘usual bee books’.

SO – TO BE OR NOT TO BE A BEE?

As I have said, I have often likened myself to being a bee – someone who has always got stuck in and worked hard. I wonder should I instead aim to liken myself to a fly? Mmm – that doesn’t sit well with me as I cannot swing my mental image away from a very negative one. For me, flies equate with dirt, the spreading of germs and things impressed upon me as a child and the sticky paper fly catchers seen around then. They always disgusted me.
I have to admit that I would also miss having my sting. OK, I may not use it much these days but it came in very handy during my previous life as a Special Needs Teacher. It served as a tool to ‘persuade’ those who didn’t feel that they should or could support particular children. My persuader that I would take things to the highest level that I could if they continued with this! Once it became known that I was more than willing to go in with the sting, it really didn’t have to put in an actual appearance very often.
It seems that the bee carries on with its goal of seeking out the flowers in the sunshine, even when the glass of the bottle gets in the way. Are we like this I wonder? Set on our mission to achieve whatever our goal is. Probably we are dealing with the more obvious hurdles but ignoring those that are seemingly not immediately visible to us? Reluctant to switch to plan B Blog  in case we could be seen by others – or ourselves – as having failed by doing this? However, could the fly approach lead us to adopting a wider view-point amid that flitting around – could it be a kind of blue sky thinking rather than the bee-like focus only on the light – as Varol suggests ‘The desire for a specific outcome can weigh us down and handicap us. Like the bees, we become blinded by the light’... Whilst the exit from the bottle – the one leading to the way forward - is actually behind them. Missed and ignored by the bees, with the approach used by the flies having a greater chance of success.
As you have probably realised throughout your life, those best paths forwards may not always be in front of your nose and glaringly obvious. It’s when we give ourselves permission to go on an expedition – into our ideas, our possible opportunities no matter how quirky – the ones that are out of our usual way of being and acting, that we have those kerching moments. We cut through the undergrowth of what we’ve always done to find our best path to follow.

INSIDE LOOKING OUT

What if you simply feel like a bee in a bottle because the world seems to go on around you. You are aware of it, but don’t feel a part of it? It feels as if a bubble, or the more sturdy structure of a clear glass bottle separates you from the world at large, even from the part of the world that forms your immediate surroundings. It can seem to prevent your feelings getting out, yet annoyingly, allows the happiness that all others seem to be experiencing come through to highlight the difference between them and you. It’s almost as if you do not exist, yet you do exist, but are trapped and unable to make your voice heard. The feelings of not being able to be a useful part of society, even of a family, just won’t go away. Sadly, so many people live this way. Feeling – and actively being – under-valued, neglected. Those who are older, those perceived as ‘different’ in a world where ‘normal’ – whatever that may be considered to be – seemingly dominates for the majority. Qualities, skills, ideas, neglected and rejected when, if they were allowed to be shared, they could be of great benefit to others, as well as giving meaning to the lives of the bottle dwellers.
I am sure that this condition has become more widespread during the past moths of living with COVID. For too many, it has firmly clicked into their default setting and they have given up on any thoughts of escape. Even if asked out, an excuse may be given – an excuse used due to lingering COVID concerns or concerns about leaving what now feels like the security of that bottle. Concerns which they would probably find hard to explain. Concerns that others would probably find hard to understand.
Maybe in the same way that the bees and wasps will be attracted to any remnants of sugar contained in the bottle, so we are attracted to our personal bottles as a way of hiding, somewhere that becomes familiar and comfortable? However, as with the bees we can so easily become entrapped. Decisions, decisions – to stay with that familiar, presumably tried and trusted way of being or to spread our wings. Maybe a compromise is required – use your personal concept of your bottle for battery re-charging time, self-healing time, self-nurturing time, even make that crazy old world go away time. Then – deep breath – and out you go, on you go. Maybe your bottle acts like your comfort zone, spoken of in a recent blog, that can be retreated to as and when you feel it necessary to do so. A much more positive way of being rather than becoming a permanent bottle dweller! OK, it may be trial and error for a while to find your way out, but you can do it. Don’t forget - as the TfL (Transport for London) Duo say 

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