Despite their humble appearance and the occasional sting, bees have many lessons to share. Being the makers of honey, a central ingredient in mead and honeyed wine, bees have an association with the gods as well as a long standing place in magic and non-magical society. They add sweetness to our lives and rituals and remind us not to work so hard that we forget to taste the 'honey' in our own lives. They tell us that the things of which we dream can be accomplished through perseverance, every day just by flying these wee creatures accomplish a seemingly impossible task.
Bees are most often associated with the qualities of hard work, focus, productivity, cooperation and wealth due to the way that they work in their hive. All aspects of the hive must function properly in order for it to continue to prosper and each individual bee becomes single-minded and sharp focused when performing a task. Due to their instinctive nature to fearlessly defend their home they are also associated with devotion to friends and family. Travel, messages from the gods, connection between the here and the Otherworld, life and death, sexuality and fertility are other traits and phenomena that are sometimes associated with the bee.
In spite of all that, the most important lesson of the bees is a simple one: Don't just take, give back as well. As they gather nectar and travel from flower to flower they help to pollinate the plants thereby giving them the ability to create more flowers or to bear fruit. A healthy population of bees is a gardeners best friend, regardless of the size of their plot. It is this departure from selfishly taking without thought of giving that makes this lesson one which is vitally important to take to heart. Humans seem to have forgotten this cycle, the bees have not.
If bees begin to appear in your life, and not just because it's Spring, take a few moments to sit and think about where your life is at the moment. Are you working so hard that you're forgetting to savor the fruits of your labor? Perhaps you've been in some sort of slump and your time has been anything but productive. What dreams have you been neglecting? Maybe you asked the Universe or the Gods something and the wee winged ones hold the answer you seek. Don't only take to heart the associations listed here; go out and really observe the bees that are around you, for their lessons may differ from these. Be silent and listen.
If you find that the bees move you or you just want to help out a creature that is dwindling despite its significant role in our ecosystems and agriculture, consider doing something for them. Plant a bee garden, filled with plants that are particularly attractive to them. Keep it organic so they don't slurp down chemicals at each meal. If you have a large yard and you won't miss having a chunk of it mowed and clipped allow it to grow tall and sow it with wildflowers and herbs, effectively creating your own mini meadow. Not only will the bees thank you, but birds and other small critters will appreciate it as well.
If you have the money, the space and the patience, consider taking up beekeeping. Yes, you will undoubtedly get stung at some point, but to equalize the hurt you'll have honey, wax and the knowledge that you're helping a thriving bee colony grow.
In nature and in spirituality, bees are truly magical creatures.