Bees, Beehives, and You

By Annette Murray Wells and Stephen A. Wells

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How much are your everyday actions like a bee’s? Probably more than you think.

Because our family has kept hives of bees for five years and because we also care for beehives that belong to others, I am occasionally asked to talk about beehives, especially how they relate to the gospel. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I’ve learned a few things.

First of all, women do all the work in the hive. All of the bees that pollinate, collect nectar from flowers, and make honey are girls. So, a beehive is like a colony of young women all working together toward a common goal. It’s a fitting representation for the young women of the Church. Because a bee is so small and her lifespan so short (about 30 days) each bee produces only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. It takes the lifetime of at least two dozen bees just so I can enjoy a little honey on a slice of toast in the morning.

When my family moved to Idaho from Hawaii (after only one year of managing 20 beehives), we brought with us 1,000 pounds (454 kg) of honey, which is just over 83 gallons (314 L). This gives you an idea of what so many can accomplish when they work together: 1/12 of a teaspoon per bee isn’t much, but it adds up quickly.

Be a Part of Something Big

Ardeth G. Kapp, a former Young Women general president, was assigned to attend a national leadership task force in Washington, D.C. Their purpose was to protect the family and society. She reported that, “After an opening prayer, one of the women rose from her seat to make this significant, brief observation, which was felt by everyone present. ‘One woman … is helpful; ten women are influential; one hundred are powerful; one thousand are invincible’” (Better Than You Think You Are [2005], 8).

The Personal Progress book says, “As you participate in Personal Progress, you join with thousands of other young women who are striving to come unto Christ and ‘stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places’ (Mosiah 18:9)” (Young Women Personal Progress [2009], 1). You may think, “What’s the point? I have so many things to do right now. Personal Progress won’t make that much of a difference in the long run.” But when you do Personal Progress, you are part of an invincible witness of God, standing for the world to see. It will make a difference because you are a part of something larger than yourself.

Bees are always busy collecting nectar, processing it into honey, storing it in the hive, and preparing for the storm they know will come. Personal Progress will help you weather the storms in your own life. You can turn to Personal Progress to help nourish your testimony of Jesus Christ as you learn His teachings and apply them.

Young Women general president Elaine S. Dalton said this about Personal Progress: “If you do one experience each month and two projects each year, you will be finished by the time you are a Laurel. Then you will have the privilege and opportunity to mentor other young women who are working on their Personal Progress. When you do this, you may earn an Honor Bee, which symbolizes going the extra distance in serving others. The honor bee can be worn with your Young Women medallion” (“What’s New in Personal Progress?” New Era, Jan. 2010, 32–34). The symbol of the beehive “is a reminder of harmony, cooperation, and work” (32).

Not only are you a necessary part of the whole, but Personal Progress will also make a difference in your life personally. Each personal scripture study session, each prayer, each meeting attended, and each good decision you make are all small and simple things that add up to the whole of your testimony. Each of these things may seem like only 1/12 of a teaspoon compared to 83 gallons, but each is a part of the whole, and each is important.

What Are You Becoming?

Another product of beekeeping is beeswax. New beeswax comb is white and clean. Older comb that has been heavily used is stained dark and is impure. We can melt it and filter it to remove the impurities, but the only way to turn it white again is in the light of the sun.

We come to this earth as children of our Heavenly Father, worthy to be in His presence. Over time we become stained by sin and the impurities that surround us. The only way to become white again is in the light of the Son! He died to take upon Himself our sins so that we can be pure again and return to the presence of our Father.

You may have heard of President Gordon B. Hinckley’s (1910–2008) six B’s: be grateful, be smart, be clean, be true, be humble, be prayerful (see “A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth,” New Era, Jan. 2001, 7). Maybe we could add another: becoming. What are you becoming? There is a big difference between doing and being. Perhaps that’s why President Hinckley talked about the six B’s and not the six to-dos. Personal Progress challenges you to do a lot of things, but the important thing is not so much what you’re doing; it’s the kind of person you’re becoming. I hope you’re becoming kind, talented, full of testimony, and like the Savior.

In a beehive there is one queen and between 40,000 and 80,000 bees. All of those bees are offspring of the queen. As young women, we are royalty, the daughters of a King. Sister Dalton said, “Remember who you are! See yourself as our Heavenly Father sees you. You are elect. You are of noble birth. Don’t compromise your divine inheritance. You were born to be a queen. Live so you are worthy to enter the temple and there receive ‘all that [the] Father hath’ (D&C 84:38)” (“Remember Who You Are!” Ensign, May 2010, 122).

On the doorknobs of the Salt Lake Temple you’ll find the symbol of the beehive (see lower right). To Brigham Young, the beehive represented industry or diligence.

Young women, you can become a queen. Your Heavenly Father can be and wants to be a part of your life right now, and you can return to live with and become like Him when your mission on earth is done. If you don’t have a testimony of that, get one. When you understand your divine potential, the day-to-day decisions are so much easier to make.

1/12 of a teaspoon of honey

enough for a slice of toast

Photo illustrations by Christina Smith