A life lesson from the honey bee | Worship
In 2006, an extraordinary occurrence happened across America, one that put our food supply at risk.
Without a sign, millions of honey bees disappeared from their hives, a phenomenon that raised awareness of their fragile existence and their importance to our survival.
I have been a beekeeper of honey bees for more than seven years. This week, I will be opening their boxes to yield honey for my fall harvest, usually to share with neighbors.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, we depend on these essential pollinators for about a third of our diet and much of what we wear.
When these little buzzing workers forage, pollen sticks to their fuzzy hairs, then rubs off on the next flower, fertilizing it, improving production for hundreds of fruits, vegetables and oilseeds.
Among the 114 chapters of the Quran, one is actually named Al-Nahl – “The Bee.”
God says in the Quran, “Behold! Your Lord inspired the bees to build their hives in the mountains, in trees, and in anything which men may build for beekeeping, and feed on every kind of fruit and follow the smooth ways of your Lord.
“From its belly comes forth a syrup of different colors, which contains a healing for mankind. Certainly in this there is a sign for those who think.” (16:68-69)
The mode of conjugation in the Arabic text is intended for the female gender and, in fact, honey bees are ruled by a queen, with female workers that build the hives, collect nectar and produce honey.
Over the years, being a backyard beekeeper has been an amazing experience. This last autumn, honey extraction from my hives is just before the bees’ winter dormancy, and it’s always sweet – literally.
I’ve found honey bees to be very social and cooperative insects. Within a humming hive, there is a peaceful cooperation that must be experienced to appreciate.
Being alone with my bees has given me joy and serenity, helping me to feel closer to God and to nature. Sitting and studying them is almost meditative, as I marvel at their divine purpose.
I have witnessed my bees landing on a flower, never breaking it, corrupting it, nor harming its color or fragrance. A honey bee will carefully takes its nectar, fly back to the hive and make honey.
It’s an amazing and beautiful symbiosis.
Among all God’s creatures, the honey bee is truly special, improving our environment while benefiting all mankind. It eats from what’s wholesome, gives out something nutritious and only good comes from its existence.
The mysterious disappearance of honey bees is termed CCD — for colony collapse disorder. The bees leave their hive without a trace, their absence potentially affecting the availability of food we eat.
We must recognize bees play a vital role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Perhaps by having more nectar plants in our gardens and eliminating the use of pesticides, we may help the honey bee stay with us.
In Islam, there is no such thing as blind faith; Muslims are required to ponder creation as a part of their beliefs.
As the last line of the Quranic passage called Al-Nahl says: “God say, certainly in this there is a sign for those who think.”
Few of God’s creations are individually as helpless as honey bees, which are totally dependent upon one another for their survival. They work together, helping each other and sharing their food production, all the while being peaceful.
For me, there is a simple lesson from the life of honey bees: If we surround ourselves with goodness, and then share goodness with others, goodness will grow out of it.
Aziz Junejo has served a representative of the local Muslim community for 30 years. He is the host of the cable TV show “Focus on Islam,” and frequently writes and speaks on Muslim topics.