In a recent class on beekeeping, I learned a few fascinating things about honey bees.
–The honey bee is the state insect of NC (and 17 other states).
–One hive can contain as many as 60,000 bees!
–They have 4 wings that hook to each other in pairs, like velcro.
–Healthy bees usually live 63 days before their wings wear out.
–Averaging 15 flights per day, they collect pollen from only one kind of flower per trip.
–Bees may collectively fly over 50,000 miles to collect enough nectar (from 2,000,000 flowers) to make one pound of honey. In its lifetime, the average worker bee may make 1/12 teaspoon of honey.
–Their internal clocks have 3 different timekeeping mechanisms.
–Their 5 eyes work like a GPS, using the sun to plot routes and know the time of day.
–They only sting when it is a life or death situation, because to sting is to die.

Honey, just of one of the natural products made by bees, is an ingredient in cosmetics. It keeps skin hydrated, prevents drying, lessens scarring, encourages the growth of new tissues, and prevents wound dressings from sticking to the skin.

Would you believe that therapy is a lot like keeping bees?

When beekeepers approach bee hives, they pay careful attention to everything about the hive, as therapists do their clients. Since every trip to a hive may be different, beekeepers, like therapists, take an “I don’t know” attitude, one of curiosity. Since I don’t have a crystal ball that tells me everything going on in someone’s life, I pay careful, gentle attention to what is said, how one sits and moves, and the emotions in the room. Beekeepers do the same thing, but they can calm things down using smoke! I have to use other means….

Just as it is the nature of bees to make honey, there is a built-in capacity in everyone for healing. It’s a good thing, too, since everyone has some sort of emotional, physical, mental or spiritual injury! As a pastoral psychotherapist, it is a joy to foster that capacity to heal by paying attention while clients make sense of traumas, work through depressions and/or anxieties, and come to terms with all sorts of losses.

The problem with tending bees, and going to counseling, is that there will be pain. Yep, honey comes at a price, no matter how adept and experienced the beekeeper is. When a bee stings, the beekeeper smarts, but the bee dies. Therapy can hurt when we relive a painful experience or face an uncomfortable truth. Sometimes it stings to give up a bad habit or attitude because we don’t know who we are without it. Perhaps it may hurt to face that someone has injured us and decide that it’s time to forgive. After going through the pain, however, we feel so much better.

I think honey & butter on hot waffles, with a side of sausage, is as good as it gets. All of the ingredients, however, cost someone something. Thank God for beekeepers, cowboys, and farmers; for clients and their therapists, all of whom give up something to get to the sweet stuff.

Robert Cooke
June 13, 2016

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