Communicating Across Species: Jonathon Keats' Honeybee Ballet

Thought experiment: can we communicate across species in a way that might facilitate a greater deeper relationship between us? Experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats gave it a shot.

Imagine a world without bees, as this TIME magazine cover story has us consider. Honeybees are the "glue that holds our agricultural system together," Hannah Nordhaus, author of The Beekeeper's Lament, is quoted as saying. 

The TIME article asks what would the absence of honeybees mean for our favorite foods?


The experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats asks a different sort of question based on a more personal interspecies connection. As humans are "destroying their habitat," Keats wonders, "[is] there a way in which we can find some sort of a common ground?"

This is the sort of "naïve question" that Keats tells us he often uses as a launching pad for a new project, a question so naïve that you may have asked it once as a child.

Keats harnessed that youthful curiosity when embarking on his project to communicate across species "in a way that might facilitate a greater, deeper relationship between us." The project that resulted, which Keats describes in the video below, is called The Honeybee Ballet.

Watch here:

Image credit: Shutterstock

The 4 types of thinking talents: Analytic, procedural, relational and innovative

Understanding thinking talents in yourself and others can build strong teams and help avoid burnout.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to collaborate within a team and identify "thinking talent" surpluses – and shortages.
  • Angie McArthur teaches intelligent collaboration for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Do you have a self-actualized personality? Maslow revisited

Rediscovering the principles of self-actualisation might be just the tonic that the modern world is crying out for.

Personal Growth

Abraham Maslow was the 20th-century American psychologist best-known for explaining motivation through his hierarchy of needs, which he represented in a pyramid. At the base, our physiological needs include food, water, warmth and rest.

Keep reading Show less

Brazilian scientists produce mini-brains with eyes

Using a new process, a mini-brain develops retinal cells.

Surprising Science
  • Mini-brains, or "neural organoids," are at the cutting edge of medical research.
  • This is the first one that's started developing eyes.
  • Stem cells are key to the growing of organoids of various body parts.
Keep reading Show less

Believe in soulmates? You're more likely to 'ghost' romantic partners.

Does believing in true love make people act like jerks?

Thought Catalog via Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • Ghosting, or cutting off all contact suddenly with a romantic partner, is not nice.
  • Growth-oriented people (who think relationships are made, not born) do not appreciate it.
  • Destiny-oriented people (who believe in soulmates) are more likely to be okay with ghosting.
Keep reading Show less