Church Fathers, Day One Hundred Twenty-Four: St. Basil wants us to learn the lesson of the bees

Church Fathers, Day One Hundred Twenty-Four: St. Basil wants us to learn the lesson of the bees November 22, 2014

st_basil_3Learn the lesson of the bees

St. Basil points to the bees as an example to all Christians. They work indus­triously with no complaints, their queen leads them by mildness (St. Basil calls it a king, but most of the rest of his entomology is surprisingly accurate), and if they sting they die.

Some of these unreasoning creatures even have a government, if the feature of government is to make the activity of all the individuals serve one common end.

This may be observed in bees. They have a common dwelling place; they fly in the air together, they work at the same work together; and what is still more extraordinary is that they give themselves to these labors under the guidance of a king and supervisor, and that they do not allow themselves to fly to the meadows without seeing if the king is flying at their head.

As to this king, it is not election that gives him this authority; ignorance on the part of the people often puts the worst man in power. It is not fate; the blind decisions of fate often give authority to the most unworthy. It is not heredity that places him on the throne; it is only too common to see the children of kings, cor­rupted by luxury and flattery, living in ignorance of all virtue.

No, it is nature that makes the king of the bees, for nature gives him supe­rior size, beauty, and sweetness of character. He has a sting like the others, but he does not use it to revenge himself. It is a principle of natural and unwritten law, that those who are raised to high office, ought to be lenient in punishing. Even bees who do not follow the example of their king, repent without delay of their imprudence, since they lose their lives with their sting. Listen, Christians, you to whom it is forbidden to “recompense evil for evil” and commanded “to overcome evil with good.”

St. Basil, Hexameron, 8.4


Do I work hard to understand what my place is in civil society as well as in the Church?

Does my way of life work with God’s plan for nature or fight against it?


My God and my King, help me today and every day to submit myself to your governance. May you be at the head of all my choices and actions.

Remember to subscribe to my feed so you will not miss a day! This recurring feature at The Catholic Blogger is possible through the cooperation of author Mike Aquilina and publisher Saint Benedict Press. To get your own copy of this book, click below.

Browse Our Archives