“Some have affirmed that bees possess a share Of the divine mind and drink ethereal draughts; For God, they say, pervades the whole of creation.”             Virgil, The Georgics

I took this photo today of a particular bee that caught my attention.

This time of year I love to walk past my bee hive. It is the very picture of contented busyness. With orderly ease and purpose, legions of bees criss-cross each other coming and going from the entrance to the hive. It is as though the same fifty bees are ceaselessly descending and taking off. The activity on the outside is a mere intimation of the activity on the inside. One can feel the energy of the countless motions in and around the brood and the honey cells.

Today I noticed this lone bee. Standing at an opening on the outside corner of my (unacceptably) weather-worn box, her wings were beating a consistent pattern. Her body was motionless other than that steady beating. Cooling the hive. Once the temperature within the hive gets above a certain temperature on a hot day, certain worker bees–bidden by who knows what call–take up the job of cooling the hive by providing ever so slight a breeze. By their own labor.

It is perhaps no wonder that, as Virgil notes, some have thought that bees have a unique share in the divine mind. They pass their days in almost uninterrupted labor, each doing its own part, with seeming unconcern whether anyone notices. Today I noticed this little, faithful bee. I will try to remember her, and to drink of the ethereal draughts of which she has drunk.

Virgil (70-19 B.C.) is the great Roman poet, author of The Aeneid and The Georgics. In the Divine Comedy Virgil appears as Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory.

Originally posted at Bacon from Acorns

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John A. Cuddeback is a professor and chairman of the Philosophy Department at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, where he has taught since 1995. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America under the direction of F. Russell Hittinger. He has lectured on various topics including virtue, culture, natural law, friendship, and household. His book Friendship: The Art of Happiness was republished in 2010 as True Friendship: Where Virtue Becomes Happiness. His writings have appeared in Nova et Vetera, The Thomist, and The Review of Metaphysics, as well as in several volumes published by the American Maritain Association. Though raised in what he calls an ‘archetypical suburb,’ Columbia, Maryland, he and his wife Sofia consider themselves blessed to be raising their six children in the shadow of the Blue Ridge on the banks of the Shenandoah. At the material center of their homesteading projects are heritage breed pigs, which like the pigs of Eumaeus are fattened on acorns, yielding a bacon that too few people ever enjoy. His website dedicated to the philosophy of family and household is baconfromacorns.com.

2 COMMENTS

  1. All creation condensed:

    “To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee
    One clover, and a bee.
    And revery.
    The revery alone will do,
    If bees are few.”

    — E. Dickinson

  2. Beautiful. Also – from Pope Pius XII’s “Address to Bee Keepers” 27 Nov, 1948:
    “Let them [men] learn therefore to enter with respect, trust, and charity into the minds and hearts of their fellow men discreetly but deeply; then they like the bees will know how to discover in the humblest souls the perfume of nobility and of eminent virtue, sometimes unknown even to those who possess it. They will learn to discern in the depths of the most obtuse intelligence, of the most uneducated persons, in the depths even of the minds of their enemies, at least some trace of healthy judgment, some glimmer of truth and goodness.”

    https://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/P12BEES.HTM

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