Les abeilles nous apportent la lumière | Regis Lippinois | TEDxRennes

Translator: Hélène Vernet
Reviewer: Claire Ghyselen I love bees. I love bees because they have
always brought us light. First, the one that illuminates
so that night would be manageable. We need to recall a time when electrical energy didn’t exist. As soon as the sun was setting,
nothing was left on Earth, only darkness, and to oppose this darkness, man only had one thing: the flame, that of the fire, in a first time, and then, that of the candle,
which enabled to share the light, to split it, to spread it into an area. Last September, I went
to the mountains, alone. I needed to get away
from people’s company for some days. I started walking in a long hiking trail. And very quickly, I branched off into
a small valley which seemed to me wild. After only a few hours’ walk, far away from any path, I felt that I was
the only man in the world, the first one to discover this territory. Then, I walked through the mountainside
to reach the ridge. And when evening came, I went back down to the forest, to look for a shelter
and spend the night in it. I found two big rocks, with a cavity and enough space to build a fire and put my sleeping bag. And that was indeed, the first thing
I did: lighting this campfire. I woke up many times
during the night to add wood in order to ensure
that this little flame did not fade away. I was not cold,
– I had a good sleeping bag -; there was no danger; but I needed this comforting
small cocoon of light to make the sounds
of the night acceptable. Turn off all the lights of the cities, just one night, and spend this night without flame, without fire, without candle, – without this candle made from beeswax – and you’ll understand that this gift bees gave to us for many millennia is a special and marvelous gift. From an early age,
I was attracted to bees. I remember my first emotions, the curiosity that seized me
when a beekeeper placed his hives near my parents’ house. I remember the long hours I spent
watching those bees. The first encounter was rather brutal, since, at about eight years of age, I decided to open one
of these beehives, unprotected. I got stung dozens of times,
and I ended up in the hospital. But, that day too,
I got stung by a passion, a passion for bees, that will resurface
more than 25 years later, and give birth to a beautiful project,
a beautiful company, a special and wonderful company
I am still managing today. It was in 2007 that I heard again this call, this very, very strong need
to move towards the bees. I told my friends about this. I told my family.
All were a bit surprised. And one evening, I received a phone call
from one of my friends, saying that a swarm of bees had settled on a roundabout, a few hundred
meters from my house, at the entrance to my village. I was not a beekeeper. I didn’t know how to do,
but I did remember that if I were to look at the bees
unprotected, I’d sleep in the hospital. So I got in touch with a beekeeper, who gave me a protective clothing, and also some advices,
and then I went back home. I built a small hive
with an old cardboard box that I kept in my garage. Then, I went to submit it to the bees. By chance, they accepted it. That was it! I became a beekeeper! In the months following
this new encounter with bees, I went to observe them
almost every day, and I felt a new energy, a desire for change I could not explain
to myself, at the beginning. I understood that my life
was not in full swing. And I had a sense of fragmentation: on one side, my childhood dreams, and personal aspirations, and on the other side,
my life as a reasonable adult. I understood I missed
the contact with nature. I missed the eager
expectation of springtime, the anticipation of the flowering and delighting with the bees
when it comes. I also missed a simpler work environment, less hierarchical, less administrative. I understood that the human being is,
above all, an animal. – a beautiful animal,
intelligent and creative – and that, in order to let
this authentic nature express itself, it needed less control, more freedom. And I dreamed of a beautiful business, in which each people would keep
their energy, this beautiful energy, for real projects, real fights, not for attending meetings, answering hierarchical requests
or completing dashboards. And that’s what we have tried to create. My associate Olivier and I, have created ‘Un Toit Pour Les Abeilles’, a company whose core business
is the conservation of bees. First, we have offered
individuals and businesses to become sponsors of hives, and to commit to protect
the bees, on their behalf. Within a few months, we have
convinced thousands of individuals, hundreds of businesses, and created a large network of beekeepers
which, today, covers the entire France. Above all, it is in the way it operates that this company was going
to find its originality. And it is the observations of bees,
the contacts with bees, that have led us to re-examine
the modus operandi of the company. The first thing we saw
was that swarming, that ball of bees that came to land
at the center of this roundabout. I didn’t understand why those bees
had left their hive. I searched on the Internet. I read texts. And above all, I heard the first beautiful story
that bees had just told me. Swarming is a very particular moment
in the life of the bee colony. That’s the natural way the bee colonies
multiply in the wild. We speak about the fever of swarming
because nothing can stop it. The old queen,
followed by half of the bees, leaves the beehive, with uncertainty,
and in absolute destitution, leaving future generations
with all of the resources: honey, beewax, propolis, and the hive which
will enable the young queen, remaining there with
the other half of the bees, to give birth to the future generations and raise them in good living conditions. What an extraordinary example
for the human being who has chosen to take an immediate
ownership of the planet’s resources, even if this means depriving
the future generations of them. But, from these observations,
we have learned another lesson, directly applicable to the company’s life: that of the strength of desire. Over the years, I noticed that the colonies
that left to swarm were the strongest; that they resisted to everything, – weathering, sicknesses, parasites, external attacks – and that they developed
at whatever cost. This old queen and her bees,
they didn’t leave in despair but rather with an altruistic joy, a strong desire, a common project, a common vision, that of building a new city,
and make it prosper. And this was the strength of this vision that made this colony of bees so robust. Therefore, we have decided to take
into account the strength of desire as the main driver
for the development of our company. And if these bees embodied
such a strong unchanging desire, this is because they had chosen freely and without constraints,
to embark on this adventure. Half of the bees had remained
in the hive, with the young queen, and the other half, had launched into that adventure. special and marvelous, having chosen it fully. If we wanted to let this desire
open out in the company, it was absolutely necessary
to bring more freedom, and more independence to everyone. And this is what we have chosen to do. We have decided that there’d be no obligation to work
from a precise location anymore. Everybody would be free
to work from the office, but also from home, from a shared office,
or from anywhere in France. We have also proposed that each
may organise his day depending on his professional
commitments, of course, but also depending on personal needs, – need to rest during the day, to exercise, organisation of family life, personal meetings – these needs are part
of the schedules of each and no control is maintained on them. We can find in the business processes
this method from the bees, this freedom, this independence, which are, in my view, one of the main
motivating tools in the company. But, in order to let everyone’s
talent fully blossom, we had to go further. And again, the bees
has shown us a possible way. As we looked more closely
to the swarming, we noticed that it could teach us
another valuable lesson, that was going to lead us to rethink the decision-making mechanisms
in the company, namely: the complete absence of leader
and hierarchy in a beehive. There is a tendency to believe
that a hive is very hierarchical, with a quasi-military organization. In reality, it’s just the opposite. In it, reigns a genuine
democratic principle, and decision-making
is shared with all the bees. So, let’s get back to our swarming! Half of the bees, accompanied
by this old queen, are just leaving the hive, and are gathering
a few tens of metres away in order to form a bunch of bees, a swarm. Then, the bee scouts go off
in all directions, to explore the territory and discover
a permanent hosting place: a hollow tree trunk, a cavity, which could be located
several miles away. Then, the whole swarm takes off
to settle in this final place. So, we have dozens of bee scouts which go off in dozens of directions, come back with hundreds
of pieces of information which they share with thousands of bees, and, at the end of this
decision-making process, only one piece of information will remain which will be essential for the colony, a piece of information
that will have to be shared by all and accepted by all the bees: the location of the final settlement. If we look at the surface of that swarm, we can see some groups of bees
that are dancing. It is by this way the bees
share the pieces of information and, above all, make decisions. This discovery has been made
by a scientist named Von Frisch, who received the Nobel Prize
for having understood this bee language. And this bee language is very specific. In our case, bees can
indicate, for example, the direction, with 1 degree accuracy, the distance, with 1 metre accuracy, and the quality of the potential
hosting place for the colony. Each dance represents
a specific piece of information. As with humans, some bees prove to have
more power of persuasion because they’re sure their idea is the
right one. They embody this conviction. These bees dance in a way
sufficiently persuasive to pull other bees, with them,
into that dance. And some of these other bees go out to check if this location is the special
and marvelous place expected by the whole colony. And if so, they come back with the same joy, dance with as much persuasion, and pull other bees again in their dance. Slowly, the other dances fade away, and unity is made; then the swarm, the group of bees take off to go and settle in its permanent home. We can see that, in this process,
there is no hierarchy, no leader, no bee with a particular role. This is what we have attempted
to implement in our company. Everyone is, now,
free to come with an idea, to explain it to the group, and win its acceptance; and if it so succeeds in winning
the support of the group, it will transform into a project. In few years, this operating mode, this bees’ method, enabled us to start various projects: a ‘Toit Pour Les Abeilles’, with the installation of several thousands
of hives in France, every year, ‘Des Fleurs Dans La Vallée’, which enable us to maintain biodiversity by sowing thousands of square meters
of wild flowers, every year, a trade mark in cosmetics
from hive-related products, a bee conservatory, a solidarity-based cooperative in Morocco, a garden-sharing service, etc. It is that method, that bee’s method, that enables each of us to feel involved, to work with independence, freedom,
and share decisions. Very few animals are able to destabilize
the whole structure of life on earth. The bee and the human being
share this responsibility. By pollinating, the bee takes part in the reproduction
of more than 80% of flowering plants. Without it, we could witness a real chaos
both vegetal and animal. And in a few years, there would be 75% of our crops, and our food supply
that would disappear. With this pollination, the bee succeeded in implementing
a smart strategy, which serves its personal interests, and benefits nature in its whole as well. The more the bee works, and collects the nectar
that will produce its honey, the more it pollinates, and the more it takes part
in the growth of the plant mass. It is also by its work that the human being can
try to change the world. By applying in businesses
the principles of the beehives – autonomy, independence, freedom, and, above all, sharing decisions – we give a chance to a strong desire,
a common project, to emerge, which is to build our new city,
our new world, to make it prosper, and to pass on to future generations the available resources. Thank you! (Applause)


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