By Dawn Aerts
Iron County Today
Only recently, I met with a local beekeeper and the conversation turned to what the bee can teach us. I remember reading other articles about this topic, as it related to dogs, cats, birds and any creature you may imagine to include butterflies, ants and itsy-bitsy spiders.
It seems each creation has something to teach us about our very busy human world. To start with, there are the seven great lessons that any beekeeper would be more than willing to share. I for one have never been fond of them: bees, makers of honey, protectors of the queen, workers extraordinaire.
I admire bees these days, as I am older – but that wasn’t always the case. One of my earliest childhood memories with “the bees” was unpleasant, maybe even traumatic? My 7-year old best friend was mercilessly stung during a visit to my house and her eye swelled up, like a golf ball. I guess she was allergic.
But as her friend, I felt like a failure to warn her, and on that day I forever vowed to be vigilant and assertive about – the mean-spirited, stinger-reared creatures. So as usual, I took that to an extreme. “Hey, there’s a bee over there!” I would announce to kids at recess, while pointing to the slide on the opposite end of a playground.
“Watch out, there are bees over there,” I would say to a perfect stranger as they sat at a picnic bench next to a patch of clover. “BEE!” I would scream whenever one came near me – that went on well into my 40’s. I cared nothing about the pollination. And I knew little of honey, except for the plastic bear my Mom kept on a shelf.
I knew nothing of dwindling bee populations then. But lately, as with age, I’ve gained some new insights about the importance of bees – to the food system, to create beautiful honey, and to the survival of our very world. Beekeepers and bees have a lot to teach us about life. Here are a few points to consider:
- They teach us to reflect on what matters. Did you know that the color and flavor of honey depends upon the source and quality of the nectar source? They strive to find quality in everything they do and practice.
- They inspire us to work together every day. When they are full they gather together and pass the nectar on, from one to another, until it becomes honey. Some store it, some fan the wax, some seal it to keep it clean. Teamwork is key to success.
- They teach us to thrive. Bees are literally at our service, aiming only to be productive and playing their part to survive. They form very specific and disciplined habits as ‘little ones’ are highly organized and purposed-driven. They will work till their wings fall off.
- Seek the good and pure. The lowly bee is always seeking the quality in life and only seeking nectar from the best, and most quality flowers and foliage they can find. Don’t settle for anything less.
- The Bees teach us about efficiency. No one in this hive is a slacker. We have heard the term I’m ‘busy as a bee?’ That sums it up. The bees are extremely efficient with their time, attention and resources, no waste here. I’ve read that a very large beehive can hold up to 50,000? They can travel 30,000 miles or more and visit over a million flowers. Not sure on exact numbers, but they are very busy.
- Bees can give us relationship advice. In their visit to plants, they are never greedy or selfish and in the process of foraging for nectar, they also give something to the flower, transferring the mighty pollen. Like the honeybee, we should be prepared to give more than we take. And ‘bee’ generous with time and attention.