jonathan stone's blog

. . . posts on faith and life

colony collapse disorder

You’ve probably read about the bee crisis that has been emerging during the last two years as the apiary industry has systemitized the collection of data from apiaries across the country. Since then stories such as this one circulate through the news on a regular basis. Grants, research, and even whole new ‘departments’ are popping up in order to study these trends, especially the phenomena that is now being called Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD). A CCD is marked by a phenomenon in which an entire colony of bees will abandon its hive for no apparent reason. There is no build up of dead bees; there is no detectable pathogen; there is no known environmental disruption; etc., etc. These bees just seemingly up-and-left one day.   

I find this to be a compelling analogy for religious institutionalism. Bee colonies (ants too, of course) give a nice picture of the strength of institutionalism. Bees seem to be ‘coded’ with institutional DNA. They willingly offer themselves for the sake of the collective whole. So, it seems strange that such a thing as Colony Collapse Disorder would even exist. I wonder what we might learn about the current collapse of religious colonies through studying this phenomenon in apiaries? One thing is clear, there is some sort of parallel, as has been testified by studies such as this one. The collapse of Protestant colonies in the USA has been circulating through the news as much as more than the news on bees.

There is currently a great deal of mystery surrounding CCD’s among North American apiaries. Several theories have been offered as the the cause of the phenomenon, but no consensus has been found. However, there are some interesting observations being made. For example, here are some of the characteristics that might be precursors to the final collapse: (1) insufficient workforce, (2) workforce is too young, (3) the Queen is still present, and (4) the colony members are reluctant to eat the feed.

That’s interesting! I wonder how far we could take this analogy with the decline in churches?

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This entry was posted on May 7, 2008 by in crisis, issues, missional, sustainability, trends and tagged , , , , , .
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