wisdom from the hive
Or go to the honeybee, And learn how she is a worker And how solemnly she does her work, Whose labors kings and common people use for health; And she is desirable to all and glorious; And although she is weak in bodily strength, She leads the way in honoring wisdom.
A hive of bees is centered around the fullness and joyful labor of their common life together.
An observer to a beehive is struck at the seeming joy the bees take in each of their appointed tasks. Over her life, a bee will have provided for the sustenance of the hive by laboring at every available position to support the colony.
As soon as she is born, a young bee gets right to work as a nursemaid. In this role she feeds and tends to the eggs and larvae of the hive. At about two weeks of age, she will begin producing wax- and despite the sheer darkness within the hive, the bee will effortlessly draw out beautifully perfect geometric combs for the storage of nectar as it becomes honey.
Then there are the bee chefs… and they produce royal jelly and beebread. If you are fan of fermentation, then you will appreciate the production of beebread. Beebread is a combination of fermented pollen, sweet little bee secretions and honey and it’s kind of like a bee sourdough!
As she grows and matures, the bee will learn to guard the hive at the entrance and will also get into great shape constantly fanning her wings for the cooling or warming of the hive.
Once she is about three weeks old, this little lady then really spreads her wings – gathering floral sunshine as she forages for nectar and pollen.
It is this foraging for nectar which is the bees most precious gift for mankind. Although we crave their honey, it is their pollination that is vital to our wellbeing. When a bee finds a rich source of nectar, she will dance a joyful circular little bee folk dance, for her sisters. This lets the other bees know where to locate the forage. Her dancing directions are remarkably accurate and reference flight patterns focused on angles of the sun.
At one point in her life she will even take on the merciful task of undertaker – that is removing the bodies of any bees that die in the hive. There are no idle moments for bees, they work day and night, and live for about six weeks. When her body finally succumbs to death, the industrious and watchful bee will never have slept a moment in her life.
Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and infinite majesty.
I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me.
I still do not know where else I could have found one.”–C.S. Lewis
A hive of bees is considered a single organism – a body. And each little bee is a but a tiny part of the body of the hive, yet collectively their common labor yields a wonderful harvest. There is no “down time” and certainly not a lot of distraction in a hive. Collectively, as members of the body, they labor toward what is needful and beneficial for life.
In this way, one senses neither judgement nor conflict amongst the bees. Despite the various roles a bee will take on over the course of her life, each bee appears quite satisfied exerting herself with the current task at hand, focusing on her own labor but also indebted to the roles of her fellow laborers in the hive.
Bees live and act as one, and all of this is for the common good of the colony. It is a life of service, as evidenced by their communal labor and the constant droning buzz, which is the eison of life and of service within the hive.
“… I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, just as your soul prospers.”
3 John 2