Recently I received a message from my neighbor that surprised me. She called to say that a swarm of honey bees were in our yard. The bees decided that they liked the tree in our front yard, so there was this huge ball of bees- a few thousand- writhing wrapped around one of the large limbs of this tree. They were so heavy that the limb began to bend toward the ground. Thankfully my husband and the animal control beekeeper handled everything before I made it home, but they took enough pictures so that I felt a part of the action. The beekeeper took them away bare handed in a box and the swarm received a new home with little help from me.
Growing up I was a part of the Pathfinder Club and many times our counselors used nature as our classroom. We would study how a tree grows or what plants were edible verses which ones were poisonous. You can learn a lot about who God is and how He thinks by studying and observing the things that He has created. So when bees decided they liked my home, my response was to see it as an invitation from God to learn about the natural and spiritual world around me. It was time to learn about bees.
So, why a swarm of bees? Where do they come from? Is it an attack? Late spring to early summer is honey bee swarming season. Not every nest or hive swarms during this season. Certain conditions must be met in order for a nest or hive to swarm. Swarming is the result of new growth- in particular, a new queen has been born. There has also been enough growth in the hive’s population that the mature queen can take about two-thirds of the existing hive and leave the new queen and the remaining third in the old nest. A new social structure would be built around the new queen allowing the larger group to move with the mature queen and fly away or swarm. The swarm then sends scouts out to find a new location for their group; they establish a new nest for themselves; and then the growth process starts all over again. They don’t attack during this season unless they are provoked. Swarming bees do not attack because there is no honey at this point to protect. Swarming is the honey bee version of church planting. Grow, mature, separate, and grow again. (For my biology fans it looks like cell mitosis)
Bee swarming and the hive itself remind me of the Kingdom of God and the church He created. In the beginning, the disciples were taught and grew under the foundation that Jesus gave them. When they came to a level maturity, they were empowered by the Holy Spirit (on the Day of Pentecost) to fulfill the Commission to go ye therefore. They multiplied that day gaining 3000 to their number. They separated from Jerusalem and the church grew again and again. In the beginning the church was a swarm.
Swarming is unified movement. A bee (like a believer) is vulnerable on its own. But when a believer (like the bee) is united with its swarm it has protection and community. Once a nest is established they have the power to reproduce and be fruitful (honey).
Bees work in unified purpose. In the hive every bee has a position; every bee has a place where they fit. The worker bee is not out trying to be the queen. The queen is not trying to become a drone. She knows where she fits. The bees’ lives and purpose are interwoven with one another. They work individually but they also work in oneness. When the system functions effectively there is unity. Where there is unity, there is fruit.
We-the church- are God’s hive. Oh, He doesn’t call us a hive. He calls us a body. In the body of Christ, every believer has a place. Every believer is given a gift or gifts from the Spirit and every member of the body has a purpose. We have not just an individual purpose in Christ but also a collective purpose in Him as a church.
Now collective unity is the opposite of what we were taught before we came to Christ. The culture of this world-particularly western culture- does not promote unity. The world system teaches competition. We are taught that it is the survival of the fittest that reigns. That eventually the stronger will take down and (destroy) the weaker. In some cases folk were taught to pit people against each other so they can destroy themselves. You may have heard of this one; “throw the crabs in to an open barrel, watch, not one of them will escape for they all pull each other back down.” The world encourages this concept. It encourages the- I will only help others if there is something in it for me. We are designed by God for unity, but we are not initially trained to practice unity with selflessness.
Thankfully the Kingdom of God is not structured this way. When we are in Christ we are no longer of the world, but we still live here. We have to shake off the world’s training and its mind set and allow God to renew our minds and teach us His methods. As it is written in Philippians 2:5 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We are not crabs. We are bees – unified, mature, and ready to produce. We are leaving the old mind set and embracing the new – speaking this new truth over ourselves as we allow God to mold us fully into this new reality.
The Kingdom is structured more like a hive. When the hive produces food it is not just for the few, but for the whole hive. The Kingdom encourages provision, not just of food and funds but of the whole man. Widows and orphans are to be cared for. We are to give peace to the troubled. We are to be in position to help those who have no hope. We are to provide stability in the midst of an unstable world. When we do those things we show the unified movement of the body of Christ. We are meant to be dependent on God and interdependent on each other.
It is not just that God wants us to just be unified with each other. He wants us to be unified – or in agreement- with Him. He wants us to understand and experience oneness. Being in agreement with each other without being in agreement with God means nothing.
Our hive does not have a queen. We have Jesus as our leader. Throughout His life on earth and in His ministry, He was in sync with the Father. Every move He made was in submission to the will of His Father and ours. Jesus is the head of the body of Christ. It is His blood and the breath of the Spirit that make the body of Christ – the church- a living, breathing and vibrant thing. As it is written in 1 John 5:7-8 “For there are three that testify; the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement." (In the original language agreement is the word “hice” meaning one). The Son and Spirit do not move without being in agreement with the Father and neither should we.
When we are in sync with each other and in sync with God. When we have taken on His mind set, His way of thinking; when we move when He says move and stop when He says stop. We see things happen. We produce and our fruit remains. It doesn’t spoil. Honey bees produce…well honey. Did you know that honey is the only food that does not spoil? What God has given us- the Good News of Jesus Christ- it never spoils either. And we have been commissioned to give this good news away. We are supposed to pollinate the earth with it, like bees pollinate flowers. Honey bees are the main source of pollination of ¼ of all U.S. crops. Just in pollination of crops they produce $10 billion dollars of revenue in this country every year. Now that’s being fruitful.
Harvest time is coming sooner than we think. The world is still hungry to know whether there is more to this life than the day to day grind. Are we holding our honey? I encourage you to reach out to the people in your sphere of influence. The people God is putting in your path. Pollinate them with the Good News and the love of Jesus Christ . Allow them to taste sweetness of who He is while the window of opportunity is still open.
Beloved, it is swarming season. The bees are doing their job. Let us make sure that we are on ours. Let us be submitted to the Lord’s moving, pollinate where He sends us, so that the harvest can be great.