Are humans anthropoidal honeybees? Here’s why some people are drawn to fringe theories, superstitions, pseudoscience + supernaturalism

Have you ever seen a swarm?

It’s a simple question and I ask it because some people have never seen one. If you have lived your entire life in the city, it is unlikely that you have witnessed this amazing spring phenomenon.

When I was a teenager I lived on the North Downs in England and so I have seen quite a few swarms for myself. And they can be very frightening.

Bee Man

If you didn’t know, honeybee hives tend to divide from time to time. A new queen is raised, and soon a new swarm of bees will emerge from the hive to seek a new home. This swarm tends to cluster into a large, vibrant mass, often seen hanging from a tree branch like a brown and bubbling boiling-pot of anger. As a group, they will move off in a day or two to find a suitable nesting site. Encountering a swarm of bees can be very alarming. They are very boisterous and seem filled with aggression & hostility.

Bee Man

Near us lived a beekeeper. And the beekeeper would attend reports of a swarm, with his sack (and a stick). He would pick up the bees with the stick (a bit like collecting cotton candy) encouraging the entire whirring and angered blob to crawl the length of his stick and into the dark safety of his sack. And that was that. He would relocate them.

American social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, in his 2012 book “The Righteous Mind” outlined a theory that we are apes in our expectations and views: always seeking to take advantage of competition and always seeking to improve our luck (perhaps at the expense of our closest neighbors) but we are also like bees in the sense that, as highly social creatures, we have hive-minds that have been formed over countless generations to incessantly compete with other groups, communities, and societies.

This bee-like behavior and our “groupish” swarm mentality helps us unite and collaborate with each other to outperform all other cultures and (even) all other ecosystems. That is why we are the paramount life-form on planet earth. It’s because, as Haidt describes it, we are “conditional hive creatures…” in the sense that we have the ability to transcend self-interest (at certain times) and to lose ourselves in something that is “larger than ourselves.” In other words, at times of stress, we tend to swarm! 

Bee In the Car

I guess it’s when we feel disconnected or dissociated from living a meaningful and purposeful existence, or perhaps when we feel disengaged from politics, or alienated from society at large, or unanswered by traditional religions, or neglected by established media — it’s at these times that we are likely to seek answers or look for peace & knowledge in new and unexpected places. We might even seek to do this in quite alarming ways. At times of increased stress we might feel the need to “fly away” from the obvious safety of our previous existence and experiment with new (perhaps outrageous) scenarios. It is times like now that we’re likely to swarm!  

Crazy Bee Man

Why do we swarm? Maybe it’s because we want to control our own prospects. Or it’s because we don’t trust what has happened before or those that are supposed to “lead” us. So some (not all) are prepared to take a risk, perhaps a greater risk, when new opportunities present themselves or things outside seem more promising. If the alternative seems better (even if it’s more dangerous) we’ll sense the urge to “break away” from the main group and strike-out in a smaller group.

So, if you have the baffling urge to escape safety and join the swarm, it is quite understandable and perhaps even unsurprising (though of course, it’s irrational). But it’s natural. It’s because you’re an anthropoidal honeybee!

Agree? Disagree? Comments on twitter @neilmach

Words: @neilmach 2021 ©

Neil Mach is the author of “Moondog and the Reed Leopard” available for purchase now.

Celestial Skyfish — Mysterious Flying Rods

Celestial Skyfish — mysterious flying rods

Are spooky flying rods captured on film some kind of temporal or transcendental celestial skyfish? Or are they an alien life form? Or an undiscovered species? Is there a more prosaic explanation?

Flying rods are elongated visual artifacts that materialize in night-time photographic images and especially in video recordings. It’s a fairly recent phenomenon, indicating that recent technology has advanced the documentation of these manifestations.

Some advocates of the paranormal have declared that what you are seeing (above) is an alien life form. Other groups propose that these mirror-like & diaphanous creatures are extra-dimensional.

Whatever they are, the flying animals appear to be thin, silver, and transient, with slender, elongated bodies and multiple wings. They are declared to be “evasive” and “super-fast.”

Pseudoscientists have asserted that these strange life forms are represented in petroglyphs (rock carvings) found throughout the world, which could suggest that prehistoric people could once “see” the cryptids (without technology) and wished to record their experience for posterity.

But, so far, this is what we know :

* Flying rods can’t be seen with the naked eye
* Flying rods happen at night
* Flying rods “appear” best when captured by video
* Flying rods are most obvious when captured with infra red film
* Flying rods become most discernible when running slow shutter speeds
* Flying rods are found in spooky places, such as cemeteries or ruins

What creatures fly at night, become discernible at slow shutter speeds and “haunt” spooky places? Investigators have concluded that the most likely explanation for the existence of flying rods is that they are visual illusions produced onto film by nocturnal flying moths.

Moths attracted by the floodlights set up at the Staging Grounds Swifts Creek Recreation Reserve

It’s comparatively simple to take flying rod photos for yourself… Moths attracted to floodlights  at the Staging Grounds, Swifts Creek Recreation Reserve

The rapid passage of an insect flapping its wings across the scope of a lens is assumed to develop a wand-like visual effect, because of motion blur (apparent streaking). Generally, energetic animals such as moths produce elongated afterimage trails when the flaps are caught on film. The rapid flapping of the wings produces the illusion of those jutting extrusions you see on the “spinal column” of the flying creature.

It’s comparatively simple to take flying rod photos for yourself. If you photograph a cloud of flying insects trapped in the sun and use long exposure, you will notice that a few insects are in focus (others are not) and when some insects fly sideways to your lens, they will appear as elongated flying rods in the image.

Words: @neilmach 2020 ©

Further reading:

The English novelist Neil Mach has gained widespread recognition for the creation of strong female characters and for compelling stories that often revolve around the themes of loyalty and duty.

His character Moondog is a Romani detective. He is called-in when other investigators hesitate. The detective inquires into things that lay “beyond normal human experience” where things hang in the balance between mundane and miraculous.

In the novel Moondog and the Reed Leopard the detective is called to Groby to investigate a spate of Big Cat attacks. The novel is OUT NOW.