I Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others
Wouldn’t it be great to have this innate understanding of what you’re supposed to do with your life? You just knew automatically the correct career path? We’re not so lucky, or I should say *I* am not so lucky. I don’t work in the field for which I received my degree and I have worked for more than a dozen companies during my so-called career; Not one particularly related to the one before and never remaining long enough to develop a sense of loyalty. A “fart in a whirlwind” as my Mom would say. This is one of the reasons I find my honey bees so fascinating – they have an amazing division of labor called Temporal Polytheism. It sounds complex, but basically, tasks within the colony are age related. Sounds almost familiar doesn’t it? Well, I guess if you grew up with a couple of siblings it would! 🙂
The diminutive honey bee worker will basically age through three stages that for the purpose of my explanation I’ll call: Adolescence, Middle Age and Senior Citizen (although Golden Panther sounds really awesome too!)
Our Adolescent bright eyed bee emerges from her cell and sets to work instinctively knowing her first task – cleaning. For the first few days of her life she will clean cells, carefully prepping them for her future sisters to develop in. After a few days the Adolescent takes on the duties of a nurse bee. Nurse bees secrete a glandular fluid that is fed to larva – and each of these hungry mouths need ~1300 visits from a nurse bee PER DAY! Our overworked nurses also feed other bees in the hive and serve in the Queen’s retinue – talk about no rest for the weary!
After about two weeks our tireless honey bee reaches Middle Age. At this stage, she foregoes further attention on the eggs and larva and instead shifts her attention to hive maintenance and comb construction. She will also process nectar and towards the end of this stage will guard the entrance to the hive. So, just like our families, where the young are nurtured in the heart of the home and slowly mature outward from the safe interior of the crib to grabbing their backpack for the first day of Kindergarten, our little bee is ready to take the world head on. She is now a Senior Citizen and considered a forager bee. Her duty is to find pollen, nectar, water and propolis; the four building blocks of the colony.
Although a honey bee transitions through various duties/responsibilities in the colony, she truly has but one purpose in her short life, service. From the moment she pokes her head through the soft wax cap of her cell she is devoted to those around her. For all her hard work during her short life she will have produced only about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey. 1/12th! It’s so negligible should we even bother worrying about measuring it?! I would argue most ardently, yes. Her small contribution has affected the lives of the other 60k bees in her colony – little things DO matter.
I was awestruck and inspired by Admiral William McRaven’s May 2014 Commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin. He shares ten lessons on how to change the world, and his first lesson, the building block, the foundation, is doing a “little” thing, a mundane thing. You can change the world if you are willing to begin with just one simple act, even one hardly measurable.
Are you ready Honey bee? Let’s try, ready – set – fly!