Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, July 25, 2020

Thursday morning of this week Shelley and I had paused beside what may be her favorite neighborhood front yard. Its whole lawn space is planted with flowers of many kinds, and the above photo pictures one of them.

There must have been a hundred of these flowers, each this same bright color, and humming amiably around them were more honeybees than I think I’d ever seen working a cluster of flowers before. (By the way, don’t miss Robert Howson’s stupendous bee-themed blog earlier this week. Scroll down to Tuesday.)

Almost every flower had a bee on it. True to form, no bee ever settled down for a rest, but spent a second or two harvesting pollen, then flew to another flower. And after a few minutes of watching and camera-clicking, I finally caught this rare photo. With all those bees buzzing from flower to flower, I wanted to catch two bees on the same flower. But again and again I found that if Bee #1 approached a flower and noticed that Bee #2 was already there, #1 immediately turned away and hunted for an empty flower. But finally I managed to catch two bees together. Take a close look, and you’ll see they’re on opposite sides of the flower’s center, maybe even unaware of each other’s presence.

Shelley told me something that shocked me: the average worker bee lives about 35 days. This is borne out by the link at a “bee health” website. Read this, and then I’ll give you the link:

During the active season, the lifetime of a worker is five to six weeks. Overwintering worker bees may, however, live for four to six months. Whatever their life span, worker bees usually confine themselves to one task at a time, working without pause. If they are field bees, they may be scouts or collectors. Scouts look for sources of nectar and pollen. Once suitable sources are located, the scouts recruit additional foragers.

Nectar collectors, pollen foragers, water gatherers or propolis gatherers work so single-mindedly at their jobs, they will not stop even to collect honey placed before them. During the day, one may see hundreds of spent workers, wings ragged, returning wearily to the hive. Worker bees are aptly named as they literally work themselves to death. Death occurs following approximately 500 miles of flight.
-John Skinner, University of Tennessee

John 9:4: “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”

Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the morning hours;
Work while the dew is sparkling,
Work ’mid springing flow’rs.
Work when the day grows brighter,
Work in the glowing sun;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man’s work is done.

Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the sunny noon;
Fill brightest hours with labor,
Rest comes sure and soon.
Give every flying minute
Something to keep in store;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man works no more.

Work, for the night is coming,
Under the sunset skies;
While their bright tints are glowing,
Work, for daylight flies.
Work till the last beam fadeth,
Fadeth to shine no more;
Work, while the night is dark’ning,
When man’s work is o’er.
— Anna L. Coghill, 1854