Lessons From Bees

Honey bees on knapweed.Honey bees on knapweed.

There are writings dating back hundreds of years to modern times, highlighting lessons from bees that would be useful for humankind to learn.

Bees are indeed wonderful creatures, whether they are the little solitary bees, living their relatively simple lives, or honey bees, thriving in incredibly complex societal structures.

Wild honey bee nest.Wild honey bee nest.

Indeed the honey bee colony, believed to be the most widely studied creature after man, and instinctively able to organize itself into a super-efficient society, is perhaps, more than any other creature, held up as setting an example humans may be wise to follow.

Lessons From Bees About The Organisation Of Society

Even William Shakespeare wrote about honey bees in Henry V:

For so work the honey-bees,
Creatures that by a rule in nature teach,
The act of order to a peopled kingdom.

The extract goes on to outline the differing roles the bees play within the honey bee colony, as an example of the well ordered society.

Lessons From Bees About Pleasure

One of my favourite references to honey bees, however, is an extract from a poem written by Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese poet (1883 - 1931), when he speaks of 'Pleasure':

And now you ask in your heart,

"How shall we distinguish that which is good in pleasure from that which is not good?"
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.

People of Orphalese, be in your pleasures like the flowers and the bees.

from "The Prophet" - Kahlil Gibran

Lessons From Bees On Democracy

In a book called Honeybee Democracy, Thomas D. Seeley outlines how honey bees have much to teach us. Honey bees, he says, make decisions collectively and democratically.

Seeley says that every year, faced with the life-or-death problem of choosing and traveling to a new home, honeybees stake everything on a process that includes collective fact-finding, vigorous debate, and consensus building, and that they have much to teach us when it comes to collective wisdom and effective decision making.

Symbolic Lessons From Bees

Then there are references to the symbolic lessons and meaning of honey bees for humankind. I'd like to thank Celestial Elf for sending me this beautiful and unusual video: "Bee Myth", and for allowing me to share it on my site. It talks about honey symbolising the 'Higher Self', and there follows a little story about the bees.

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