Spring has sprung in Tuscany and all is blooming, and I mean all. There is a rich floral fragrance in the air and the hills are full of color.. rich pink, purple, white, and yellow blossoms are everywhere. Even the exterior of my home is covered with wisteria and little yellow roses. And, as you can easily imagine,not only have the blossoms returned but so have the birds, bees, and butterflies.
This past weekend I chose to spend most of my free time in our garden enjoying the spectacular show that nature has put on for us. I couldn’t help but notice the bees buzzing around which got me thinking about bees and what we can learn from them.
When we hear or see bees out in nature, we often see just one, but this belies the reality of their situation. More than any other species, bees function as part of a whole. They cannot and do not survive as individuals; they survive as members of a group, and the group’s survival is the implicit goal of everyone’s life purpose. There is no concept of life outside of the group, so even to use the word individual is somewhat misleading here. Humans, especially Americans, on the other hand, strongly value individuality and often negatively associate this type of society with a lack of independence. And yet, if we look closer at these amazing creatures, we can learn valuable lessons about how much we can achieve when we work together for a higher purpose.
Most bees have highly specific roles within their communities, some of which are biologically dictated, and they work within the confines of their roles without complaints, never wishing to be something other than what they are. In this way, they symbolize self-knowledge and humility. They also display selfless service as they work for the common good of the group. In some ways, they are like the individual cells of one body, living and dying as necessary to preserve the integrity of the whole body, not to protect themselves as individuals. In this way, bees personify the ability to see beyond one’s small self to one’s place within the greater whole, and the ability to serve this whole selflessly.
Bees can inspire us to fully own our authentic selves and what we have to offer, then put it to use in the pursuit of a goal that will benefit all of society, whether it be raising consciousness about the environment, feeding the hungry, or raising a happy child. Each one of us has certain talents we were born with, and skills we’ve acquired over the years. When we apply these gifts, knowing that we are one part of a greater organism working together to better the whole world, we honor and implement this wisdom demonstrated by bees.
Think of yourself as that little bee you see in the garden and put yourself to good use. And don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers while you’re at it.