To mark World Bee Day, Year 7 Rookwood House at St Mary’s School Ascot prepared a memorable assembly. The whole school was in attendance and pupils and staff were given some thought-provoking material.
This year, World Bee Day highlighted that one-third of the UK’s bee population has disappeared over the past decade and 24% of Europe’s bumblebees are now threatened with extinction. “If the bee disappeared off the face of the planet, humankind would only have four years left to live.” Attributed to Albert Einstein this is a serious wake-up call and should give us all cause for concern.
There are 20,000 known species of bees globally with 270 species recorded in the UK. Only 1 of these is the famous honeybee which is kept by beekeepers in colonies of managed hives. The rest of the bees are wild and play a major role for our stable, healthy food supply. These bees are key to the varied, colourful nutritious diet we need and have come to expect. Bees have adapted to pollinate, helping plants grow, breed and produce food. They do so by transferring pollen between flowering plants and so keep the cycle of life turning. Without bees, we would risk losing many meat and dairy products too because we feed animals with food that is made from pollinated plants. Bees also pollinate wildflowers, so our countryside would be far less interesting and beautiful without them.
But bees are in trouble and there is growing concern all over the world at their decline. This is caused by the overuse of pesticides; by loss of habitat; by climate change; and by disease. Although not yet definitively proven, scientists suspect that growing radiation used by communication towers for mobile phones can interfere with the bees’ ability to navigate through their antennae.
It is extremely serious that bees are disappearing at such a fast rate. They are a marvellous part of God’s creation that can teach us much about the spiritual life. Monks and nuns have been beekeepers for thousands of years, and through their first-hand experience, they recognised the spiritual value of this small creature. Like in a monastery, bees cannot survive on their own but depend upon the division for labour in the hive. Each bee is given a specific task, whether it is building the comb, foraging for nectar, scouting the area, or tending to the developing bees. They all work together in unison for the good of the hive under the leadership of the queen.
Secondly, the bee is associated with wisdom. Bees collect nectar from a flower and then return to the hive to transform it into honey.
Last of all, bees are an example of perfect discipleship. They diligently follow the orders of the queen and will even die for her sake.
We hope that our assembly has helped to appreciate bees more and to remind us that it is our responsibility to care for our world and the creatures within it.