When we hear the call of the bees maybe our hearts will be refreshed and we will find new mornings.
In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower, But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee. For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life, And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love, And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.
Three people met on Twitter, and between them created this post.
There is a wonderful old tradition called ‘Telling the Bees‘. Bees were regarded as part of a community or family. When key events happened the bees were told. For weddings they were told and left a bit of wedding cake. For the birth of a small child small sweets were left. It also worked the other way. It was believed that the bees had a wisdom they could impart to us. We could tell the bees and the bees could tell us things back. It’s a charming idea. It is also true in that bees can teach us life lessons that we often overlook or need reminding of. We will touch on three of those that speak to us – the industry, the journey and the silence of the bees.
Bees have a work to do. They are known for their industry. ‘Busy as a bee’ is a popular saying. Yet there is something about their busyness. It is single pointed. They fly to a flower and focus totally on that task. They are so present to their duty. They don’t damage the flower but enter deeply to acquire the nectar. They then return to the hive. We have here such an organisation and order.
Shakespeare wrote :
For so work the honey-bees, creatures that by a rule in nature teach the act of order to a peopled kingdom.
What do they teach us? They teach us the value of addressing the task before us. To focus our energies on the present. To respect what comes across our path and use it wisely. The nectar the bee returns with is conveyed to the other bees in the hive. The nectar goes through a process whereby it is stored in the honeycomb. The sole bee needs the others and they need her. She lives for community and community exists because of the individual bees. The hive is a living community. Within the hive, where all that’s been gathered is transformed, there is also the amazing sense of purpose and working together without hierarchy. Each bee, in accordance with its age and glandular development, fulfils its tasks in fine attunement to the others and the overall task of perpetuating this high form of life that literally keeps the world in fruit and flower.
Bees have a journey. From the hive to the flower and back again. We all know the story. We sometimes however perhaps miss the message. The bee goes out to find nectar. She works the flower and then returns home with his contribution. From this work and journey honey is made – honey which is food, medicine and mead. Outer – inner – gift to others. There is here an image of the inner journey. What strikes us is a metaphor for how we must go out from ourselves to seek our own outer nectar which we have to take back into our hearts / inner hives. This seems a sign of how we all need to find the good things in the outside world – people, love, kindness, stories, books, nature, etc. Yet that is only half the journey – we need to take them within – to do our own inner work. To make good the learning and connections – to add to the treasure already there. This inner hive is where the heart and mind become one and listen to each each. It doesn’t stop there as what we make there then serves many others as gift. There is here from the bees a map of how life could be. To work in the external world, to take into our hearts and minds all the good we find and make it all into gift to bless and benefit others. All the bees take into the hive is transmuted to a higher form.
Bees have a silence. They are very busy but know all about silence and rest. One of the authors involved in creating this post reflected:
My bees do not fly after dark. They work during the day but they take time off at night, at least to stop foraging. At night the hive, unless disturbed, is very quiet – at least from the vantage point of the observer listening to the inside of the hive. I think this is important because we live in a society that can be go, go, go, 24/7. Especially, in the age of social media. I think we need to follow the bees example of taking time to rest. I don’t know if bees reflect or not but I am sure that when they quit foraging at the end of the day they spend time with each other. Modern society values hard work but lacks, among many other things, time to rest, reflect and spend quietly with one another.
These good words point out how bees seem to have work / life balance. We often see the value of work / life balance but find it so hard to get. It seems bees have it inbuilt into their communities. As services, societies and people we really need to get this right. In times of high demand, high stress and sometimes low morale we fail at our peril to create cultures where rest, peace and silence have central places. The bees’ call to us appears to be: mind this beautiful earth and all there is in it, lest the beautiful balance of give and take be severely upset. It is in this give and take that we live and give and dwell in authenticity.
Yet the silence is deep activity of a different sort. The outer activity stops, but if you listen to the ‘night life’ with a stethoscope, there is a perpetual whirring of quiet activity. For example the nurse bees are always active, feeding, cleaning, tending the queen. A growing bee child receives 2,000 visits before the cell is capped, the most intensive nursery care in the entire animate kingdom. When we go quiet, mindful, meditative, there will also be a wealth of quiet activity in our transforming of what we gathered, and maybe our connecting to higher purposes. The polarity of activity and rest is only true on a certain level. Deep rest contains in it an activity that can be as, and maybe more, creative and transformative as the busiest external action.
The three authors who met on Twitter have come together to share, learn and create. Each has had their part to play in individuality and creativity. Each has joined and worked with the others to contribute to the whole. It has been an experience of action and reflection – of hopefully deep inner activity and going out to share with the others our thoughts and sights. It has been a real joy – a school of how people can come together to share, co-write and grow.
The Talmud wisely says:
Who is wise? He who learns from all people.
Other beings teach us too and can make us wise. Bees teach us about life and what can work. The bees can help us if we hear their message. Can we, like them, strive towards our common purpose, as human beings on the earth? Can we aspire to that quality of life and sharing which is the essence of hive life? In a world torn by violence, rejection and conflict it’s important to hear other ways. When we hear the call of the bees maybe our hearts will be refreshed and we will find new mornings.