Lessons from a Honey Bee – Part II “Teamwork”

The beehive represents an amazing picture of teamwork and efficiency. The honeybee has one of the most highly developed social structures in the animal kingdom. At the heart of the hive, which may house as many as 80,000 bees, is the queen (considerably longer than the workers or drones) who must lay two to three thousand eggs each day. Without her, the colony has no future.  But the rest of the bees don’t just sit around watching their queen work. Each bee has a specialized job to fulfill.
     The Forager bees encounter the perils of the outside world to collect nectar, visiting hundreds of flowers each day. The Guard bees protect the hive entrance from intruders (like yellow jackets).  The Undertakers are responsible for removing dead bodies from the hive. The Water collectors bring in moisture to regulate humidity in the hive. A number of them make the ultimate sacrifice, drowning in their attempt to acquire water. The Plasterers make a kind of cement to repair the hive and to glue the hive together—and some amazingly strong glue it is, as any bee keeper can tell you!  The Fanners station themselves at the entrance and fan the scent outward to signal the location of the colony to any lost or disoriented bees. They also keep the hive cool on hot days to prevent the nectar from evaporating before it can be capped with wax in the cells. If you get close to the hive on a hot summer day, you can hear the hum of their wings. The Scout bees keep the hive alerted to the opportunities and dangers of the outside world. They communicate this information to the forager bees.  The Nurse bees feed the larva and the queen. The heavy-bodied, large-eyed male drones  must be on the lookout for future queen bees. Their job is to mate with any new queen. The variety and specialization of the worker bees seems endless.
     In a similar way, the Lord has given special gifts and tasks to all the people in His Body, the Church.  “now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same LORD. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…God placed the members, each of them in the body, just as He desired.  And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body” (I Cor. 12:4-7,18-20;cf Eph. 4:12-16).  No one has been called to merely sit around. Some in the Church seem to think their spiritual gift is “criticism,” but that doesn’t happen to be on listed in Scripture! There is no place in the Body of Christ for a “bone of contention”!  Everyone has a task to perform for the Church to operate efficiently. It takes unselfish teamwork. The work of the Church will not get done unless each of us does what God has called us to do.
     But what happens when a hive is damaged and vital functions are impaired, including the queen bee’s productivity? In a remarkable way, the body functions and abilities of the other bees change in order to assume new responsibilities for the emergency state. How does each bee know what duties to assume? What keeps the hive from becoming totally chaotic and unable to function? The secret is contained in the  message the honeybees pass among themselves.  Each bee contributes a distinct glandular secretion to the honey according to the function it performs. When all secretions are present in sufficient supply, the hive is balanced, functioning normally. When one secretion is inadequate or missing, such as that which comes from the queen, a moaning sound travels throughout the hive. All the bees throb as though they were afflicted with fever. This is their signal to quickly adapt themselves—even change roles—in an effort to make up for the loss and re-establish the balance of the hive. The bees demonstrate loyalty for their common goals and to each other through their amazingly accurate system of intercommunication.
     If God has so amazingly equipped lowly honeybees to maintain a productive hive, even in the midst of crisis, how much more must He have equipped His Body, the Church, to be productive in this harsh worldly environment ruled by Satan. Jesus said to His disciples, “I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it” (Mt. 16:18).  All of Satan’s attempts to crush and destroy the Church have proven unsuccessful. In fact, it seems the harder he tries, the more the Church thrives. 
     Are you faithful in your role in the Church body? Are you an unselfish team player?  We can learn a valuable lesson from the honey bees. “Christ builds His Church and makes it strong by using you and me, and if we all will do our part the world His love will see” (David Sper, Radio Bible Class).  The Church works best when we see ourselves as participants, not spectators.
                Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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