Bees? An Unlikely Inspiration

Education is an inspiring thing. My favourite days at school are those that I come home inspired about learning and itching for more knowledge. There are the usual inspiring subjects, such as cancer immunotherapy, or advanced electron microscopy, but then there are the unusual inspiring subjects. Subjects so obscure that you’d never, in a million years, guess that you’d be rushing home after class to spend hours researching. Subjects like bees.

beesYou know how you can go months, or even years without thinking about a subject and then suddenly the subject comes up and somehow you seem to see it everywhere, hear about it everywhere, and it becomes so present in your life you wonder if it had maybe been there all along but you had never noticed it?

Right, well today I had a moment like that. Today in two of my classes my professors independently discussed bees in lecture. Now I know what you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal Kate, it’s just bees…”  Wrong! The thing is these classes weren’t just entomology and some other biology course.

No, the wild thing is that these two classes were Instrumental Techniques of Analysis (CHEM 318) and Anthropological Linguistics (LING 361); subjects so vastly different that I never dreamed there’d be any connection between the two. So you can imagine my astonishment when both courses found common ground on the subject of bees of all things. 

In the chemistry class, Dr. Hore explained how bees can see polarized light. In the linguistics class, Dr. Kirkham encouraged the class to consider whether the dance of bees is a “true” language or not. Specifics aside, I dashed home to read article upon article until I found the link on how the communication of bees is closely related to their ability to see polarized light. Eureka!

While I understand this subject may not blow you away in the same way it did me, I hope that what you take from this is that no matter what discipline you choose, you can always, always, find something exciting and inspiring; something that helps you see the world in a new light; and most importantly, something that humbles you in proving that each academic discipline is crucial in the pursuit of knowledge.

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