Peacebuilding is like making honey.
Today, while visiting my friend Landis Spickerman at Hermit Creek Farm in Highbridge, Wisconsin, I learned that during the entire life time of a honey bee (which is between 60-90 days) a single bee will make one-eighth of a teaspoon of honey. ONE EIGHTH! Are you kidding me! I can dip a tablespoon in a jar of honey and lick it up faster than you can jump over a candlestick.
As I walked down the driveway Landis greeted me with two questions, “Are you allergic to or afraid of bees?” “No,” I said as we continued down the driveway past the hoop houses. Just past the hoop houses I noticed a stack of white boxes and what seemed to be a thousand bees flying all over the place.
The white drawer like boxes are the Supers. An easy way to explain a super is to imagine a kitchen cupboard sans cans…and instead copious amounts of sweet, sticky honey stored in the unit. These supers just had the honey extracted from them and were in the process of being re-instated back to the colony. In the meantime the honey bees decided to stop by for a ‘bee potluck.’ As I walked into the honey bees I have to admit I was a little tense, however, I did trust that the bees were very focused on the task at hand.
Landis and I stood there watching the honey bees buzz around the supers. I was impressed by the fact that they had little concern for us and intense focus on the pure enjoyment of eating the honey clean off of the boxes. The whole thing had me suspended in absolute amazement. Landis admired how a colony of bees working together are able to create this small morsel of sweet beauty during their collective lifetimes.
Standing there I began to think about how the process of the honey bees making honey was not unlike the process of peacebuilders building peace, one small fleck at a time. While I do not know how many trips a honey bee makes between the flower and the hive, nor do I know how many flecks of pollen it takes to make an eighth of a teaspoon of honey, I do know that the focused and loving work of many creates something wonderful. The honey bees at Hermit Creek Farm are a reminder to me that my journey to becoming a peacebuilder will be a journey throughout my lifetime. And an intentional focus each day to step out and create a space for listening and meaningful dialogue are the first ingredients. The hope is that each conversation will be like each fleck of pollen that is carried back to the hive, eventually together we will create an entire jar of peace.