Honeybees are fascinating and it’s amazing how much we can learn from a tiny insect! In fact, there is a whole surah in the Qur’an called An-Nahl (The Bee), where Allah says:
“And your Lord inspired to the bee, “Take for yourself among the mountains, houses, and among the trees and [in] that which they construct. Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down [for you].” There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.” [Qur’an: Chapter 16, Verses 68-69].
In an effort to be among those who ‘give thought’, we will discuss together in this article some lessons that we can learn, ponder upon and implement in our lives, In sha Allah, all inspired by honeybees.
Lesson 1: Honeybees inspire us to reflect and gain knowledge
I’ve always wondered how bees make honey. After doing some research, I found out that bees start making honey, their food, by visiting flowers. They collect a sugary juice called nectar from the blossom by sucking it out with their tongues. They store it in what’s called their ‘honey stomach’, which is exactly what Allah mentions in the aforementioned surah. The color and flavor of honey they produce differs depending on the nectar source.
To really appreciate this surah, go online and watch a video about how bees make honey. It’s a real-life example you can share with others when explaining that the Qur’an could have only been revealed by Allah . If you have kids in your family, watch it with them and help them understand the wisdom and lessons in the surah.
Lesson 2: Honeybees inspire us to work together
When they have a full load, the bees fly back to the hive. There, they pass the nectar on through their mouths to other worker bees who chew it. It’s passed from one bee to the other, until it gradually turns into honey. Then the bees store the honey in honeycomb cells, which are like tiny jars made of wax. The honey is still a bit wet, so they fan it with their wings to dry it out until it becomes stickier. When it’s ready, they seal the cell with a wax lid to keep it clean. Teamwork is the secret to their success.
Being part of a team makes us all feel special and our family is the first ‘team’ we join. Whether you’re a dad, mum or child, we can all contribute to the success of our family. This also teaches us humility. The goal of a humble honeybee is to play its part in producing honey, while the ultimate goal for a Muslim family is to achieve Allah’s pleasure and attain jannah. Just like a tiny bee, our individual role is crucial in our family; if mum decides to let her kids play on the laptop for hours or dad chooses to spend more time at the gym than with his kids, then everyone in the family will suffer, because the main role is not being played or sought after.
Think about your attitude towards your family. It’s a question only you can answer: how am I contributing to the success of my team?
Lesson 3: Honeybees teach us to thrive through obeying Allah
I was surprised by how much effort bees put into producing honey. However, what fascinated me more was that Allah divinely inspires honeybees! Allah commands bees to make homes in mountains, trees and hives that people construct. As a direct result of that command, we are able to have bee farms and can harvest and enjoy honey. In effect, Allah has placed bees at our service! Subhan Allah!
I envy honeybees for the simple yet extremely productive life they lead: they are highly organized, focused and produce amazing results as a team, all through obeying Allah’s command!
Let’s aim to live productive and meaningful lives through obeying Allah : by decreasing the bad habits in our lives like listening to lewd music, watching vulgar TV shows and un-Islamic socializing. Let us also replace those with better habits like reading Qur’an, watching beneficial videos, surrounding ourselves with good people, or simply going to the park with our family and appreciating Allah’s magnificent creation!
Lesson 4: Honeybees teach us to seek pure ‘rizq’
Bees only eat nectar from fresh and clean flowers that no other bee has eaten from. So, their sustenance (rizq) is from a pure source.
On the subject of rizq, Imam Malik was reported to have said:
Our rizq is guaranteed by Allah . It’s up to us to decide how to attain it.
Nowadays, obtaining our rizq in a haram way is sometimes easier than the halal option. Serving alcohol in your ‘halal’ restaurant will make you more money. Buying properties with an interest-based mortgage and renting them out is very lucrative. Selling small quantities of marijuana to your friends is a quicker way to earn money than stacking shelves.
We can all make excuses to make ourselves feel better, such as: “I’m doing it out of necessity” or “I’m doing it for my kids’ future”, but the bottom line is you will receive no blessings from your haram earnings and your dua will not be accepted.
The Messenger of Allah said:
“Allah the Almighty is Good and accepts only that which is good. And verily Allah has commanded the believers to do that which He has commanded the Messengers. So the Almighty has said: “O (you) Messengers! Eat of the tayyibat [all kinds of halal (legal) foods], and perform righteous deeds.” [23:51] and the Almighty has said: “O you who believe! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you.” [2:172]” Then he mentioned [the case] of a man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty, and who spreads out his hands to the sky saying “O Lord! O Lord!,” while his food is haram (unlawful), his drink is haram, his clothing is haram, and he has been nourished with haram, so how can [his supplication] be answered? [Muslim]
Take the time out to review your finances and make sure the rizq you pursue, not just your food but also your job or business, is pure and clean.
Lesson 5: Honeybees teach us efficiency
We have all heard someone describing his/herself by saying they’re ‘busy as a bee’. This description sums up the life of honeybees: they’re extremely efficient. A large beehive can house up to 60,000 bees and they may collectively travel 55,000 miles and visit two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just a pound of honey!
Let’s take inspiration from honeybees and work not just hard but efficiently to achieve the best results in whatever actions we do.
A simple way to increase your efficiency is by changing your sleep pattern. Gradually begin to go to bed earlier and start waking up earlier just by 30 minutes. Late at night, we don’t really get much done, but in the morning, our body and mind are much more alert. In fact, the Prophet specifically prayed for barakah (blessings) in the morning hours:
“O Allah, bless my nation in their early mornings (i.e., what they do early in the morning).” [Ibn Majah]
Lesson 6: Honeybees provide key relationship advice
Did you ever think you could get a relationship tip from a bee? Well, think again! Bees have amazing symbiotic relationships with plants; they are neither greedy nor selfish. In the process of gathering nectar, a bee gives back more to the flower: it transfers pollen grains from one flower to another, hence pollinating the flower for essential fertilization and reproduction to take place.
In our relationships, we should try and give more, just like the honeybee does. It’s good to be generous with our love, attention and time. In addition, while the bee is drinking nectar, it doesn’t harm the delicate petals of the flower.
Our parents, spouses and children also deserve to be treated with kindness and consideration. Once a week, choose someone you will do something extra special for, like making dinner for your mum, hiring a cleaner to give your wife a break from chores, or playing football with your son. The opportunities for being considerate and generous are endless!
Lesson 7: Honeybees teach us to care about our communities
Bees live together in well-organized hives where every bee has a role to play in its community. The queen bee lays the eggs while worker bees clean the hive and keep the hive’s temperature cool. Some bees protect the hive from intruders while others fly for miles to collect nectar. When a bee returns to its hive, Allah taught it to do a little dance (it’s called the bee dance) to show the other bees the coordinates of the flowers so they can go and feed. A bee cannot survive or make honey on its own; it has to cooperate with its fellow bees.
People are exactly the same: we need to take care of our responsibilities and work with others to create harmonious and productive societies.
Unfortunately in this day and age, the pursuit of wealth and being individualistic and selfish is paramount. Many multinational companies exploit their workers and the environment and only care about profit. As Muslims, we must do our best to resist these harmful ideas and just like the honeybee, share our good fortune, be helpful and look after others.
When honeybees work together they produce more honey then they need, and people can benefit from its healing properties. When Muslims work together for the sake of Allah we too can help humanity by engaging in da’wah, building masjids, setting up Islamic schools and doing charity work.
Ask your local masjid if you can help out and contact weekend Islamic schools to see if you can volunteer there. If there are no Islamic circles in your area, then get together with like-minded people to see if you can start up a project from scratch. If your circumstances don’t allow you to leave home, look for online opportunities through which you can contribute to your community and the ummah.
What other amazing life lessons can you extract from the lives of honeybees? Share your thoughts in a comment below!