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Three years ago, Yuri started to take an interest in bees. He wanted to be able to offer his family pure, quality honey, a precious commodity today. Having recently moved to Strasbourg, he had the chance to settle in a house and decided to start the beekeeping adventure.
He was quickly joined by two friends, and soon three hives were set up in his garden. Yuri and his friends received help and advice from a friend who is both a priest and a beekeeper, who has many years of experience. He introduced them to the Warre hive, a kind of beehive invented by a French priest, Émile Warré, author of Beekeeping for All.
The principle of the common good
Anyone can start beekeeping, says Yuri, because it doesn’t require much time and it isn’t too technical, especially with the Warré hive, which doesn’t require very sophisticated equipment. However, he points out, bees are living beings for which you become responsible.
The main activity of beekeepers is to observe their hives. That’s why, says Gregor (one of Yuri’s friends), beekeeping develops in us a contemplative spirit and opens us to a spiritual dimension in the perception of nature. Gradually, you become fascinated by the mysterious world of bees.
In a beehive, there are two levels of existence: a collective level, the swarm, and an individual level, the thousands of bees that compose it. One has the impression that the swarm has its own consciousness. Sometimes it starts to act, but we don’t understand where the impulse that pushes it comes from. As Fr. Warré writes, the life of the bee within the colony is the most accomplished example of the concrete application of the principle of the common good: The bees are entirely dedicated to the colony, from the queen to the young worker.
The passion of contemplation
Bees always remain wild creatures, even if people offer them shelter and care. In exchange for this protection, they offer their caretaker the surplus of their honey production. Thus, with beekeeping, we relinquish the first place that we often tend to attribute to ourselves. We become the servants of a small insect that has an immense wealth: its capacity to elaborate one of the best natural products.
For those who embark on this adventure, beekeeping becomes a passion that undoubtedly finds its origin in the endless contemplation of an unfathomable mystery. But it’s not a sterile or selfish passion. On the contrary, it’s a passion that brings us out of ourselves, because beekeepers, by putting themselves at the service of the bees, feel powerfully how we fully participate in Creation.