World Bee Day 20 May 2021

photo by Dustin Humes, on Unsplash

St. Benedict is the patron of bee-keepers, and those who themselves have bees could not do better than mark his day by praying for their hives. In some parts of France it was, and may still be, customary for bee-keepers to have a medal of St. Benedict affixed to their hives.

O Lord, God Almighty, who hast created heaven and earth and every animal existing over them and in them for the use of men, and who hast commanded through the ministers of holy Church that candles made from the products of bees be lit in church during the carrying out of the sacred office in which the most holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ thy Son is made present and is received; may thy holy blessing descend upon these bees and these hives, so that they may multiply, be fruitful and be preserved from all ills and that the fruits coming forth from them may be distributed for thy praise and that of thy Son and the holy Spirit and of the most blessed Virgin Mary. 
(Source: Candle is Lighted, A by P. Stewart Craig, The Grail, Field End House, Eastcote, Middlesex, 1945)

The Lorsch Bee Blessing (German: Lorscher Bienensegen) is a bee-keeping prayer intended to bring home honey bees in good health to their hives. It is believed to have been written in the 9th century. Below is a translation.
Christ, the bee swarm is out here!
Now fly, you my animal, come.
In the Lord’s peace, in God’s protection, come home in good health.
Sit, sit bee. The command to you from the Holy Mary.
You have no vacation; don’t fly into the woods;
Neither should you slip away from me. Nor escape from me.
Sit completely still. Do God’s will.

Blessing of the bees (River Cottage Farm)
O Almighty and Pre-eternal God: You hold all creation in the palm of your hands; You possess the heavens, the earth and all that is them; You compassionately grant unto all created things that which is beneficial for them. With compunction, we pray to You, O all-good One: As in ancient times You granted the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey, and as you were well-pleased to nourish Your baptizer John in the wilderness with wild honey, so now by Your good pleasure and caring for our sustenance, bless the beehives in their apiary, greatly increase the number of bees in them, preserve them by Your grace, and fill us rich with honey. Let none of these beehives which You have fashioned be deprived of bees, but let them always be filled with honeycombs of honey. And according to Your great benefits and invincible might, let them be shown undefeated by evils and unshaken by curses. Rather, fenced round about by Your all-powerful might and defended by your armed host, let them always remain unharmed and in Your grasp, O Christ. For Yours it is to be merciful and to save us, O Christ our God, and unto You do we send up glory, honor and worship, together with Your Father and Holy Spirit. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Whose mercies cannot be contained and Whose bounties are ineffable; Who are wondrous in glory and Who works miracles, Who by the operation of the Holy Spirit once blessed Israel and nourished them with honey from a rock: As the same Lord, look down now from above on this Your work, and with Your heavenly blessing bless and consecrate this honeycomb and the honey that comes from it. Grant to it the action of a blessings beyond all perfection, so that all tasting of it, receiving it and eating it, may find good health, and by this nourishment be satisfied and filled with all good things. For You are He Who bestows all good things, and to You we ascribe glory, together with Your Father Who is without beginning, and Your Most-holy, Good and Life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

A Bee Prayer
Winged spirit of sweetness, I call on you.
Teach me the ways of transformation and fertilization,
The path from pollen to sweetest honey.
Teach me to taste the essence of each place I alight,
Carrying that essence with me to continue creation’s cycle.
Teach me the ways of hope, reminding me the ways of hope,
Reminding me that what seems impossible may yet be achieved.
Flitting tears of the gods, draw me ever closer to the wisdom
hidden within beauty.
Give me flight and sunlight, passion and productivity,
Cooperation with those around me, and sharpened strength to
defend my home.
May I ever spiral out from my heart, searching for what I need,
And return there once again to turn those lessons into nourishment. 
Bee spirit, I call to you. 
(Source: from A Book of Shadows, quoted on Sacred Science)

Proverbs 24:13 Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. 
Although this proverb invites sons to eat honey and to consume what is sweet to the taste, I know that honey, like God’s love, is good for everyone.  All of God’s children.
God, every day please guide each of us to find sacredness in the ordinary things You place before every one of us.  In finding, sharing, and consuming the love we discover in such moments, may we all be nearer to You and to one another. God, may we all look outside of ourselves and through the windows of our lives and see and find all of the unexpected messengers and messages from You.  Even those messengers of honeybees found in orchid blossoms and the messages of Your love they carry with their wings outside my window.  Amen.
(Source: Jack H. Emmott, Bending Angel)

(below is an article on Godspacelight by Laurie Klein)
Without bees, life would languish. Essentially entwined with humanity’s welfare, honey bees deserve our support for their work in this world.
By God’s design, a bee is both a math whiz and a master builder, computing the shortest flit between blossoms as well as designing nature’s most efficient structure: honeycomb walls mitered at precise 120-degree angles. In a house of hexagons, the colony can yearly process 100 lbs/45kg of honey, providing nutrients and antioxidants to enhance the health of our skin and brain function. Honey also fosters healing. Not to mention delight. 
Sweetness entices bees as well. Smear a jar with honey and foragers will detour to drop in. Were they to eyeball the person holding the jar, they’d take in the face, feature by feature, the same way we do—eyes, nose, whiskers, lips—piecing the parts into a complete image. Biologists call this “configural processing.” Experiments show bees can even learn to recognize specific faces. These studies may assist computer scientists working with facial recognition technology. 
Bees share other similarities with us. Their vocational roles, like ours, pulse with possibility. Drones romance the queen. Scout bees hardwired for adventure stake out new blooms. Mid-lifers moonlight as undertakers, clearing away the fallen.
Can a bee go bad? Yes. Wily robber bees stalk compromised hives for easy honey. Thank heaven for soldier bees. Think of them as the muscle: mini-bouncers and bodyguards clocking in for security detail. 
As followers of Christ, we also serve our communities. We attend to family concerns. Some build; others search out new resources and opportunities. Hopefully, we guard what God entrusts to us. Whatever our calling, we carry the precious nectar of the gospel.
But it’s costly, showing up for each other, day after day. Seeking the good of an entity greater than ourselves, we keep saying yes to our small, often unnoticed, utterly unglamorous assignments. And yet. Every yes contributes to the soundtrack humming beneath our days, a hymn of praise to the King who loves us—no matter how well we perform, no matter how much we love our work. 
But roles change. Especially during a global pandemic.
Bees also adapt to the changing needs of the hive, sometimes, with startling results. After young nurse bees finish raising a hatch of larvae, they become upwardly mobile pollen runners. The new work depletes them. Recent experiments show that reassigning these wearied bees to larval care again rejuvenates their brain chemistry, bolstering a protein that reverses aging. It’s the same protein found in our brains, which can help fend off dementia. Further research may help us all thrive longer.
Versatile, industrious, focused – honey bees, in all their roles, enrich our lives in myriad ways. 
But here’s the buzzkill, and it’s one of the pressing reasons to channel gratitude into practical action by getting involved on World Bee Day. Or any day. In recent years, pollinator-dependent crops have burgeoned. Colonies, however, are vanishing. No one knows why. Identified as “colony collapse disorder,” billions of honey bees across the world are abandoning their hives. In some regions, up to 90% are gone. In response, the United Nations launched World Bee Day in 2018: “To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development.” 

ACTION IDEAS:

  • Plant nectar-rich lavender, rosemary, and bluebells
  • Plant diverse native plants with different flowering times 
  • Buy raw honey from local farmers
  • Choose organic produce whenever you can
  • Purge your landscape of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides
  • Sponsor a hive 

For reflection
What if we were to see our world as one giant hive, and each of us as bees, or a cell of the ONE living organism of the world.  How would this change the way we live, think, feel, action and do ?  Would we waste our time in petty fighting over viewpoints, or would we rise ourselves to a higher place and work/play in service of our collective song? 

Bees don’t experience themselves as separate, but rather as part of a group soul, a greater collective. Everything the bees do is about relationship with one another. The story of colony collapse is a story of how these relationships have been broken, contaminated, or subverted. It is a story of ignorance, thoughtlessness, and selfishness – qualities we humans bring to far too many of our relationships, from the most personal and intimate to the most global and institutional. As relationships around the world are fracturing, and many are caught within the murky swamp of betrayal, grief, anger, loss and hate, may we look and feel into the wisdom of Bees to both heal our wounds, and help mend the fractured parts of ourselves.    When we feel complete on the inside, and then radiate this wholeness to the world, our light, our joy, our spirit inspires others to do the same.  We move into a place of not only right relationship with self, but also a loving reciprocity of right relationship.
(Source: Simone Matthews)

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.