Which Worker Bee Are You? {Book Club}

After discussing sheep and shepherd, roots and grapes, today we talk about bees and honey as we discuss Part 3—The Land Flowing with Milk and Honey—in Scouting the Divine by Margaret Feinberg.

First of all, is this book making you wonder why you haven’t asked more questions? Maybe it is just me. But this book is helping me realize that if I asked more questions of people who have jobs different from mine, I could gain so much.

By the end of this section, I have fallen in love with the bee and view honey with more love and admiration than I had before. I’ve been mildly impressed with bees and knew the phrase “Queen Bee” and “Worker Bee.” I even knew about drones and hives and nectar. But the specifics? Not so much.

I took this photo several years ago at a State Fair

 

state fair worker bee

Having finished this chapter I scrolled back through photos on my phone to find it. Besides the fact that this honey has been judged and not all were deemed blue ribbon, I now notice this differences in color and consistency. I wish I could talk to the different bee keepers and find out what stories their honey holds.

Let me state the obvious: oh my word, there are so many types of honey and so many bees needed to make one pound of honey. I enjoyed learning more about the three kinds of bees: Queen, drone, and worker. It surprised me that a queen can live for three years! That seems rather long for an insect. And that on productive days she can lay more eggs than her body weight. What?! Humans and bees are so different.

What could we learn for our ministries if we had (and valued) all of these worker bees:

—Nurse bees who feed the older and younger larvae

—Fanning bees who keep the hive cool

—Queen attendants who feed and groom the queen

—Worker bees who feed the drones, seal the honey, build the honeycombs, pack the pollen, and carry water

—Mortuary bees who help keep the hive active by removing the dead bees and failed larvae

—Guard bees who attack invaders or thieves, inspect those returning to ensure they are fulfilling their duties, and monitor those entering the hive to be sure they are members of the colony

All working together, as Margaret said, to serve the higher purpose. Early we learned with sheep there is a lot of “flock drama,” doesn’t sound like much drama with the bees! I can see why God repeatedly refers to us as sheep, beloved sheep. But I can also see why bees and honey are in the Bible: look at what a team is takes to make honey. There is no one bee who makes honey. No, there are thousands working together.

While most of us aren’t part of an organization that involves thousands, we are all working together in a high purpose: to set captives free (including ourselves!) in and through Christ.

Then Gary explained that in part to keep his bees alive he has moved them around. Starting in Colorado, where the winters are chilly, they shipped them to California to work in almond groves and then to Texas to be exposed to an early spring. Prior to reading that section, I had the image of bees and a beehive that stayed in one place. My vision was probably too idyllic with kids stepping straight out of the 1800’s, but I had not thought of them bouncing around in the back of trucks, trying to stay alive.

Cross-cultural workers are also like bees. There has been some political decisions in a large country in Asia that has many wondering what the future holds. Just as the bees cannot control the weather, we cannot control many aspects of our environment and may have changes foisted on us that we do not want. Even though bees don’t have feelings and may not understand what is going on, being driven around the country to find more suitable conditions, we can learn from them.

We have just celebrated Easter! The ultimate life from death story. Sometimes, for us to live, we must die to a certain calling, role, or location. It is not easy. And the cost is real, but if we remember we are like bees in that they serve the higher purpose, we can trust that God has life for us on the other side of the decision that needs to be made.

And then we get to one of my great loves, seeing scripture from a different angle. I will admit I had not thought much about the honey Sampson found in the carcass of a dead lion. Interesting to hear that bees will build a hive in “almost any hole.” I also enjoyed hearing more about the phrase “land flowing with milk and honey.”

“God promised his people a land where everything was in top working order. This land was a land abounding in fruitful pastures and efflorescent vegetation. This was a land functioning in its proper, God-designed rhythms. The result was natural abundance. The description ‘overflowing with honey’ offers a glimpse into what God desires and promises us all—an invitation for us to taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Have any of you kept bees? Or had relatives who keep them? What have you learned from bees? What are your favorite honey verses? I look forward to our sweet conversation in the comments! (Next week we will read Chapters 5 and 6 in Humble Roots.)

Amy

Reading plan for Humble Roots and Scouting the Divine:

March 6—The intros to the two books (Wonderment in SD, Sowing Seeds in HR)
March 13—Part 1 (The Good Shepherd) in SD
March 20— Chapters 1 and 2 in HR
March 27—Chapters 3 and 4 in HR
April 3—Part 3 (Land of Milk and Honey) in SD
April 10—Chapters 5 and 6 in HR
April 17—Part 4 (The Vine) in SD (Retreat this weekend!)
April 24—Last week was retreat so to have time to focus on the retreat, no extra reading his week. We will have a Get to Know and get back to reading this week. Also, I will announce the summer reading!
May 1—Chapter 7 in HR
May 8—Chapters 8 and 9 in HR
May 15—Part 2 (The Harvest) in SD
May 22—Chapters 10 and 11 in HR
May 29—We made it! Two books read in tandem we will review and have a Get to Know 

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

20 Comments

  1. Karen April 2, 2018

    Amy, I so agree with you, that this book is making me wonder why I haven’t asked more questions. I know several people who keep bees, and so I have known about things like people shipping their bees around the US to keep them alive in different seasons. However, it never occurred to me to ask why, in the story of Saul and Jonathan, there would be honey on the ground, and that this could be an indication that the weather was hot that day. We can’t be definitively sure that the weather was hot that day, but I think it’s probably true that, as the author says, “Sending people to fight under these conditions [a declared fast] was another reminder that Saul had let the crown go to his head and lost compassion for his people …” I love how richly the details of Scripture dovetail together and give us a deeper picture of the truths God is communicating.

    I do have quite a few friends here, both expat and local, who keep bees. At the moment, rather than any deep insights, the picture in my head is of the last time I was at a honey-selling friend’s house, and her 16-month-old son emerged from a room with drips of honey on his hair, face and hands, etc. This led to a conversation between the parents along the lines of, “HOW could you have let him into the honey AGAIN?!” I wish I’d taken a picture to share, as he unconcernedly tried to lick it all up … but clearly this is one little boy who knows a good thing when he sees it!

    1. Amy Young April 6, 2018

      I love the mental picture of the 16 month old :)!!! Ah, honey can be a sticky mess!

  2. Cassidy April 3, 2018

    I have a wonderful mentor in my life who keeps bees that I was excited to read this chapter. She has spoken so passionately and “highly” of her bees (that seems silly but its true) The way that each bee knows what to do and has their role. There is a beauty to their organization that shows you it is a divine system. I love sitting and listening to her talk about bees, but I had never driven the parallels that I found in this chapter. I whole heartedly enjoyed learning more about how significant honey is in the Bible and a better taste to what that would mean.
    It is so beautiful to think to God is so in control and present in everything, down to the complexities of the bees. It is comforting for sure.

    1. Amy Young April 6, 2018

      Cassidy, I love listening to people (like your mentor) who are passionate about something — their passion is infectious and suddenly I care about something I didn’t even know about AND I learn things :).

    1. Amy Young April 6, 2018

      Fun to read of your experiences, thanks Esther!!

  3. Hadassah Doss April 3, 2018

    I was able to experience my own exodus from Egypt into Israel last March. We knew we’d be returning to our passport country soon and simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the land of milk and honey for ourselves. I didn’t hike through the Sinai Peninsula to get there (even though many trips to the Red Sea made me very familiar with the landscape), but still, I was astonished at the contrast! The open spaces were refreshing, and the green! Oh, how beautiful to relish in the green…and the water! As I’m experiencing Reentry, it warms my heart to be reminded of God’s generous heart and His desire “to bring [us] out of the land entirely and into a place that overflow(s) with provision.” Because my waiting is not over, so it’s encouraging to rest in the knowledge that what I’m waiting for is very good!

    I was also reminded that a good characteristic of a cross-cultural worker is flexibility. We too need to be able to “adjust to what you’re given.” Still doing that in Reentry, as well, so I’m guessing this is just good for life, in general;)

    1. Amy Young April 6, 2018

      Hadassah, I love that you got to see what “a land flowing with milk and honey” looked liked in the region God initially used for the illustration. It IS a powerful reminder that God is for us and is generous :)! And continued blessing on you in reentry!

  4. Spring April 4, 2018

    I too was amazed by what it takes to make honey. That it literally takes ‘everyone doing their job’. What an admonition to work towards unity.
    My 7th grade science teacher is a bee keeper. He was also one of the people in my life who made a radical impac. As an adult he was in my life again. He goes to the church that my husband used to interpret at. He is a supporter.

    He as an educator taught me a lot about the history of bee keeping. He has a number of old hives. Apparently bee colonies would be destroyed to access honey until they invented ways to keep the colony and access the honey.

    1. Amy Young April 6, 2018

      Spring, I love picturing you talking with your science teacher :). Bees are amazing (I’m learning) and I love the added info 🙂

  5. Anna April 5, 2018

    I learned a lot about bees! One thing that popped out to me was how every bee has a tiny little job. You would think for the most part that one bee is not important, but together bees have a huge impact on our environment. That reminds me of the body of Christ. We have different jobs, and at times you may feel insignificant, but together we are having an impact.

    This also made me want to try a bunch of different flavors of honey. I’ve tried a few, but never knew there were so many. I would probably put clover honey as my favorite, but I don’t think I’ve tried enough to pick a favorite yet.

    I would also be interested in reading more about the health benefits of honey. I have tried to use local honey to help with allergies, and I’ve been able to see a big improvement.

    1. Amy Young April 6, 2018

      Anna, that would be fun! To do a honey taste test and see if I could taste the difference. Good question on the health benefits. How much and how often and how do you take/use honey?

      I like the parallels you make with bees and the body of Christ!

      1. Anna April 7, 2018

        I put 1 teaspoon of honey and the juice of 1/2 lemon in hot water. I read it as an immune booster, but after someone else suggested it was good for allergies, I realized that mine had improved quite a bit. That was when I lived in Congo, and there was lots of green lush jungle that came with lots of pollen!

  6. Michele April 6, 2018

    I learned a lot about bees too! Just the way God designed them…and the way honey is made! I’m with Gary, just the intricacy of the whole process is a wonder that points to an awesome Creator! I was also really struck by the meaning of a land flowing with milk and honey, how that would necessarily be a land with plenty of water and plants and ideal weather…I loved the idea that God did not just lead his people to safety and freedom, but to a place of abundant provision of all good things.

    1. Amy Young April 6, 2018

      “I loved the idea that God did not just lead his people to safety and freedom, but to a place of abundant provision of all good things.” ME too! I love this :).

  7. Phyllis April 7, 2018

    My father has started to keep bees in recent years. He catches swarms, too. We’ve enjoyed his photos and videos, and we saw some in real life last time we visited. And when my parents visited us, we took them out to a local beekeeper to see what it’s like on this side of the world.

    Different kinds of honey… the first time I saw that was in Moscow at a honey market. I have vivid memories of that day, but no pictures. (It was one of the first times we went out with our first newborn baby, so I was probably too busy to take pictures. Also the first time I really got screamed at for holding a baby upright.) Your beautiful photo shows bit of the texture and colour that honey can have, but there was a much wider range that we got to taste and see that day. Here, these aren’t my photos, but take a look:
    http://bw4u.ru/upload/iblock/6bd/6bdbb52c776475b18e2ce5b327d94a1f.jpg
    http://b1.m24.ru/c/813275.483xp.jpg
    http://pchela-myod.ru/images/photos/medium/map37-3.jpg
    (Disclaimer: I don’t know anything about the sites that they’re on. This was just a Google search.)
    My favourites are the smooth, white, super thick kinds, but I can’t remember what flowers they come from. Pumpkin might have been one of them? Or lipa (whatever that is in English)? Each kind is useful as a medicine for different conditions, too.

  8. Phyllis April 7, 2018

    I’m trying again, so the photo will show up, even without Facebook. Will this work?

    1. Amy Young April 7, 2018

      It does!!!!! What’s the story? Love this!!!

  9. Michelle April 30, 2018

    I appreciated the thoughts on the land of milk and honey. Milk to meet one’s needs, and honey as a bit of an added luxury. A reminder that God does know and care about both our needs, and our desires. “..a land thats got everything you need and then some.” I’ve gone through some tough seasons where I really had a hard time believing that God had good intentions towards me. I’m adding this concept to my arsenal of biblical truths to have on hand for times when my faith in a good father is being stretched.

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