“BEElieve in Jesus!”

Image result for Honey bees
Several months ago, Ted & Laura allowed us to bring several youth over to their house and go swimming.  Ted asked Mark & me if we wanted to see his bees.  I have had several occasions in my life when I have been stung by flying insects, so before I could answer, “No thanks!” Mark said, “Sure!”  Because I didn’t want to surrender over my man card, I reluctantly tagged along behind them.   Ted assured us that they were the European Honey Bees and that unlike the African Honey Bees, they weren’t really aggressive in nature.  What I learned that day was amazing.  The Humble Honey Bee has to be God’s most amazing insect!
I have since researched the Honey Bee and have been blown away by what I’ve learned.  Everyone knows that bees make honey, which is not only delicious, but also has medicinal properties.  However, if bees suddenly went extinct, mankind would also have to say goodbye to most fruits, vegetables, nuts, and several types of oils; for Bees are responsible for pollinating 1/3 of all the crops in the world!  But beyond the tangible things that Honey Bees bring us, there are also several lessons we can learn from them that will help us to be better a follower of Jesus and a more productive part of the local church.  The honey bee is a living illustration of how we as BEElievers can move together in faith and unity.

Lesson # 1 – BEE Active!

Have you ever heard the expression, “Busy As A Bee”?  It is for good reason that a bee is considered to be one of the most active insects in the whole insect world.  Just to have one teaspoon of honey, a bee has to visit and collect nectar 4,200 flowers.  One honey bee will make 10 trips a day and visit over 400 flowers.  To get just one pound of honey, the honey bees will have to visit 3 million flowers and travel the distance that is equivalent to traveling 3 times around the earth.  The harder the bee works, the happier and more productive the hive will be.  Every single bee has a role and function within the hive.  Every bee fulfills their role for the good of the hive.
Much like the honey bee, a follower of Jesus needs to be active within the body of the church.  If 20% of the bee hive did 80% of the work, it wouldn’t be able to flourish and would eventually become extinct.  The same is true for the local church.  In order for the body of Christ to be healthy and flourish, every member of the church body must find and fulfill it’s role.  In short, believers must be active!  The Lord wants us each to grow into maturity and to become committed to the Christian colony and serve.  The role of a Christian in the world is to make the world around us a sweeter place to live.  Jesus said the world will recognize us as his followers in how we love one another.  Part of that love is to build up the body of Christ.  Much like in the bee hive, every church has takers and givers; those who need to be served, and those who have dedicated themselves to serve others.  Sometimes we all need to be served.  But the question is, are you the type of BEEliever who has never matured to the point of serving others?
When we read the words of Jesus we are reminded of a critical truth about the work ahead of us to be done.  He said in Matthew 9:37, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few!” (NIV)

Lesson # 2 – BEE Humble!

As I said before every bee has a role and function.  Essentially there are three major types of honey bees; the Queen Bee, the Drones, and the Worker Bees.  There is only one Queen in a hive and it is usually the largest bee in a colony.  It’s role and function is to make babies by laying eggs and fertilizing them.  She is intentional about which eggs she fertilizes because the ones she doesn’t fertilize turn into Drones (or male bees).  The Drone really only has two functions, to walk around the hive eating honey, and mating with the queen.  Unlike the worker bees, the Drone doesn’t have a stinger so it is unable to protect the hive.  While this sounds like the ideal job in a hive because he doesn’t work and just mates with the queen, in truth, the Drone’s male part has a barb on it which will pull it’s guts out after mating with the queen.
The last kind of bee is a worker bee.  Worker bees are all female (which isn’t that different from who does all the work around our home).  While the Queen Bee really only has one function in the hive, to lay and fertilize eggs, the worker bees fulfill several roles and functions in the hive as they grow up and mature.  The average lifespan of a worker honey bee is somewhere around three to four months from the larva stage to a full grown adult.  When an egg is laid, it hatches into a larva.  Under developed worker bees (bees that are only a couple of weeks old and are unable to fly) have the responsibility to feed the larva until they are old enough to go through their metamorphosis stage, which we will talk about a little later.  Once the worker bees are old enough to fly, they will go out and gather nectar and pollen which the hive uses to either make wax which lays out and caps the cells, or they will make honey.
One incredible thing that you may not know about honey bees is that they have amazing memories.  When an older female travels out, they map out the area in search for flowers that contain nectar.  They might even travel up to 8 miles out but are still able to fly back and return to the hive.  You might even notice in a bee hive, there are a few bees that sit out in front of the hive and just flap their wings.  They aren’t being lazy, they are communicating to the foraging bees where the entrance of the hive is.  So they sort of resemble greeters at church by telling everyone, “Hey, welcome back!  We’re glad to see you and can’t wait to see what you’ve got to contribute to the hive!”
Every bee in the hive has a role and function and no bee considers themselves to be independent of the hive.  In fact, if the bees were to try to establish individuality and live out on their own, the hive would suffer and eventually all the bees would cease to exist.  This is an important lesson for each of us.  Not only does the church need the individuals, the individuals need the church.  When Christians try to exclude themselves from the body of Christ and serve themselves, their faith deteriorates to the point of being non-existent.  We as BEElievers must commit ourselves to Christ by becoming a servant to all.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh, rather serve one another humbly in love.” – Galatians 5:13 (NIV)

Lesson # 3 – BEE Holy!

A long time ago, scientists determined that it should be impossible for bees to be able to fly.  Their bodies are too big and their wings are too small!  Not only that, but the foraging bees carry pollen and nectar that is equal to it’s body weight.  For decades, scientists could not explain how the honey bee was able to fly.  In recent studies, they have determined that honey bees are unlike any other flying insect in that they can change their wing strokes without adjusting their wing beat frequency.  In other words, they can determine how much air they want to push with each wing flap!  They are “set apart” from the insect world and are able to accomplish something miraculous!
As followers of Christ, we are called to be holy or “set apart” from the world.  This means followers of Christ are unique.  This doesn’t mean that once we’re saved, we smarter, faster, or stronger than unbelievers.  It simply means that we have something that the world doesn’t; faith in Christ.  Genuine faith in Christ fills us with joy to the brink of overflowing!  We, as BEElievers can do what no one else in the world can do.  We can live lives others say is impossible and be filled with joy in the midst of even the most difficult circumstances.  The best part is we can welcome death like a friend because we have inherited eternal life!
For it is written:  Be holy, because I am holy!” – 1 Peter 1:16 (NIV)

Lesson # 4 – BEE Evangelistic!

As I stated earlier, bees will travel up to 8 miles away from a hive in search of nectar.  I recently watched a documentary on netflix called “Hive Alive” where researchers were able to explain how it is that a bee can know if a flower has already been visited and to move on.  Apparently, flowers produce a negative charge and bees produce a positive charge.  Once a honey bee lands on the flower and drinks up its nectar, the flower will send out a positive charge which will allow another bee that happens to pass by know that it’s recently been visited and hasn’t produced enough nectar to warrant attention.  So sometimes, it can be really challenging for a bee to find the nectar that it’s looking for.
Once a bee finds the sweet nectar, it returns to the hive and does something incredible.  Instead of saying to itself, “I know where some nectar is and I’m going to save it for myself so nectar is easier to find…” it returns to the hive and tells it’s worker bee sisters where it found a large amount of nectar.  But how does it communicate?  When the foraging bee returns to the hive, it will do a complicated dance and will spin in figure 8 motions.  The worker bee tells the other bees which direction the nectar can be found, how far away it is, and it will tell them how good the source of nectar is, all through this dance.  The bee doesn’t horde the nectar for itself, it shares the good news for the good of the colony!
You most likely see where I’m headed with this.  While I know this sounds like we should be evangelistic only inside our churches, in truth, a person who is evangelistic will recognize places in the world where the work is needed and will send out missionaries do the hard work of evangelism.  Some jobs are just too big for one person to accomplish and so it takes a whole colony.  In short, we must involve the church with the work that God shown us and return, with a group of Christians, to reach the world.  Remember if a bee doesn’t travel from plant to plant, all the beauty of nature will cease to exist!  Unless a BEEliever is active in sharing the good news with the world, the Christian colony will not flourish and will eventually cease to exist.  We can’t be selfish, we have to be evangelistic and share the good news we have!
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’”
– Mark 16:15 (NKJV)

Lesson # 5 – BEE Authentic!

There are more kinds of bees than just the humble honey bee!  In truth there are over 20,000 different species of bees.  For example, the much more aggressive and dangerous yellow jacket belongs to the bee family and even looks a lot like the honey bee in that it too has a yellow and black striped coat.  The yellow jackets even make honey!  The major difference between the honey bee and the yellow jacket is that the honey bee isn’t aggressive by nature.  In fact, the honey bee can only sting a human being once in it’s life where the yellow jacket can sting us multiple times.
The reason for this anomaly is because the worker bees have barbs on the end of their stingers.  Once a honey bee’s stinger is inserted into our skin, the skin closes around it and when the bee pulls away, it’s guts and venom sack are torn out.  Something to note about being stung by a honey bee; if you are stung, don’t try to pull out the stinger with your fingers or tweezers.  If you do, you will squeeze the major part of the venom out of the venom sack and into your body.  It’s recommended to scrape the stinger off with a knife or something flat.  Honey bees don’t want to be aggressive, but they will do what is necessary to protect their colony; including to sacrifice themselves!
As Christians, it should be in our nature not to be aggressive and seek to hurt another individual.  This doesn’t mean we should be floor mats for others to wipe their feet on.  It simply means that we must be meek in nature like the honey bee.  Our goal should be to protect the Christian colony and make the world a sweeter place.  Unfortunately, there are those who masquerade as BEElievers and are quite aggressive (even violent) in nature.  Authentic followers of Christ love one another!  And when called to do so, we must be willing to sacrifice ourselves (not just our lives but our comfort as well) for the sake of the church!
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 3:16 (NIV)

Lesson # 6 – BEE Born Again

None of these lessons are possible or even apply until you have completed this last and greatest lesson.  Did you know that the honey bee is actually born twice?  It initially enters this world as a larva and is fed by it’s older sisters.  Then, when it is ready, it is buried in a tomb-like chamber until it’s metamorphosis (or transformation) is complete.  It then emerges from it’s chamber as a new creature.  This transformation isn’t always easy; in fact, it’s believed to be pretty painful for the bee.  The bee’s brothers and sisters don’t help it out its cell; the bee has to struggle and wiggle it’s way out of the chamber until the membrane on it’s back is broken which releases its wings.  Eventually its wings dry out and develop which allow it to fly.  In short, the bee develops in the world through pain and struggle; when this happens it is born again!
Jesus told Nicodemus that we all must be born-again if we want to enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Our family can’t get us to heaven.  We can only enter through the heavenly gates if we have died to ourselves and have been born again as new creations of this world!  Surrendering your life to Jesus isn’t easy.  In fact, it’s quite painful.  How can a person be willing to lose their life and hand over control to someone else?  And even after we surrender our lives in service to our King, our life is full of labor and toil.  This isn’t something you can do by yourself!  You must first be enabled by the Holy Spirit to confess Jesus as Lord!   Without the Holy Spirit, living for Christ is impossible.  However, he has sent the Counselor to guide us down the path he has laid out in front of us.  Because of the Holy Spirit we are given the opportunity to be adopted into the family of God.  But without BEElief, God is impossible to please.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)


I sincerely believe that honey bees are God’s most amazing insects.  If we study them and apply these very same principles to our lives, we too will be able to share a precious resource with the world.  The honey produced by bees parallel with eternal life in that if it’s properly preserved, it will never spoil and will last forever.  Not to mention, honey bees produce way more honey than they could ever consume themselves!  It’s meant to be shared with others!  So the next time you see a bee buzzing by in search of nectar for its hive, don’t swat it!  Instead, let it remind you that as a BEEliever in Christ we too must go out into the world in search of those who need the precious gift of Eternal Life!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 (NIV)