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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

If I Were Bees

by Lauren Van Ham

One can no more approach people without love
than one can approach bees without care.
Such is the quality of bees...
~ Leo Tolstoy
A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  
~John 13:34-35
For two seasons now, I have been beekeeping with my neighbor, Frances.  It has been a true adventure with plenty of humor and doses of drama.  The hive sits in her yard, next door, and on days when details or work have become far too engrossing, I’ve taken to walking over and observing the hive.  What happens there, and what happens to me as I watch, is a welcome miracle.

If we were bees, our vision would measure at 23,000 -- that’s 3 times worse than legally blind for humans.  If we were bees, we would fearlessly fly blindly because our navigation skills (using the sun and movement) would put any human navigator to shame.  If we were bees, we would let all the bees in our hive know where the best food is by dancing (sounds fun, right?).  And all our friends would know what we’re saying, not because of how our dance looks (so don’t be self-conscious; we’re blind, remember?), but because of the sound we make with our wings (13 flaps a second) and the degree to which we direct our waggle.  If we were bees, we would understand one another with such accuracy, we could consistently double our population at the aforementioned food source every 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, if we were bees, in the hive, we would, each of us, come up through the colony ranks, fully mastering our declared roles: nurses (tending the bees who’ve fallen ill), guards (protecting the hive from intruders of all sorts), foragers (finding the food), grocers (bringing the pollen home), housekeepers (meticulously cleaning any and every mess -- especially the ones cause by beekeepers checking on the hive!), construction workers (building comb, sealing with propolis), royal attendants (ensuring Her Highness has everything she needs to be profoundly productive), and undertakers (yes, those too).

And if we were bees, we would be doing all of this…for the good of the hive. 

It’s insanely organized, bafflingly efficient, and utterly miraculous.  Standing there, at the hive, watching the coming and going of these winged wonders, I feel the sun on my face and listen to the buzz of those wings flapping 11,400 times a minute.  My heart flutters, it’s own attempt to join and appreciate this simple, ancient community. 

If we were bees and Earth our hive, what role would you play?  In what way are you called to serve, sustain and grow this life together?

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