Circumdederunt me sicut apes
You may have noticed the swarm of bees on the side of the Oratory House last Sunday. A member of the Oxfordshire Beekeepers' Association was able to come in the evening, when the bees were sleepy:
He managed to scoop up most of the swarm, together with the Queen, and put them into a box. When the bees on top of the box performed the waggle dance, showing that the Queen was in there, the remaining bees were anxious to join them. Here is the waggle dance:
Bees are in greatly reduced numbers at present, so it is good that this particular swarm was able successfully to be rehoused.
St Francis de Sales, an Oratorian at Thonon in France, and later Bishop of Geneva, draws this spiritual lesson from bees: "Look at the bees upon the thyme; they find there a very bitter juice but in sucking it they turn it into honey."
And again: "When the young bees first begin to live they are mere grubs, unable to hover over flowers, or to fly to the mountains, or even to the little hills where they might gather honey; but they are fed for a time with the honey laid up by their predecessors, and by degrees the grubs put forth their wings and grow strong, until they fly abroad and gather their harvest from all the country round. Now we are yet but as grubs in devotion, unable to fly at will, and attain the desired aim of Christian perfection; but if we begin to take shape through our desires and resolutions, our wings will gradually grow, and we may hope one day to become spiritual bees, able to fly. Meanwhile let us feed upon the honey left us in the teaching of so many holy men of old, praying God that He would grant us doves’ wings, so that we may not only fly during this life, but find an abiding resting-place in Eternity."