Nature has a unique way of keeping us humble. And often, it’s with the tiniest things. This year, it’s from 60,000 tiny little bees. These bees have been in my dreams since I was a young girl sitting in my dad’s woods one summer, mesmerized by a colony he rescued from a fallen tree. Dressed in nothing more than a veil and long sleeved shirt and jeans, I felt like a woodland fairy as the bees filled the air around us, flying gently this way and that, never bothering to sting me or my dad. I imagined they knew we were there to help them and were telling us ‘thank you’ for rescuing them. Little did I know, many years later I would be reminded by another set of bees just how little I know about this amazing world the Lord has created.
You see, several weeks ago, I brought home two nucleus hives to establish my long-awaited apiary. All did not go well. As soon as I opened that first box, I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t have a clue what I was looking at. I couldn’t tell if the bees were healthy. Happy. Or starving. I couldn’t find one of the two queens I knew I was supposed to have. All the evidence in front of me suggested one the of the colonies was eager to swarm before they even moved into their new home. I didn’t know if I was squashing too many bees as I placed the heavy frames into my own hives. I also didn’t know if I should feed them right away. Heck, I couldn’t even tell you if they liked the flowers growing nearby. I was devastated.
Well, by now you’re likely shaking your head, scolding me for not doing my research first. But that’s the thing. I DID. I spent this past year—the ENTIRE year—taking every beekeeping class I could find within a two hour drive. I drove over six hours to the Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka, KS and listened to Shane (I think that’s his name?) with Brushy Mountain Bee Farm teach folks about bees. I read every beekeeping book I could find. And finally, I found a beekeeping club an hour and half away that holds meetings once a month, lets members help in the club’s apiary, and offers mentoring. I never missed a meeting and went to all the apiary work days this past year. I handled bees. I moved bees. I fed bees. I thought I was ready. I was even confident, sort of. Until I opened that first box that was all mine.
Humility often comes in tiny packages. No matter how long I am blessed enough to walk this earth, I hope I am always learning. I hope I always remember that I don’t really know very much. I hope I never forget to find mentors (love my beekeeping Mentor!). I hope I never forget to read. And most importantly, I hope I never forget to be humbly curious about God’s beautiful creation.
As for the bees, they’re talking to me. Telling me what they need, what they want. So far, they’ve been patient enough to repeat themselves several times as I oh-so-slowly learn their unique language. I’m starting to recognize a few of their activities that only experience will teach me. And my mentor has been by my side whenever I need him to translate when I just don’t understand.
And that’s why humility is so very important. It allows us to be open to new ideas, new activities, new insights. And to keep learning. It also allows us to share what we learn with others. Just like a bee shares her sweet nectar.
Here’s to Happy Learning and Happy Sharing!