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To Bee Or Not To Bee

I had just finished sharing the gospel of the day when I felt this thing on my left hand and figured it was just a pesky fly. So I swatted it with my right hand only to feel a sharp sting and then realized that I had been victimized by a bee which somehow had found sanctuary in the sanctuary of St. Francis Church. All I could do was to pluck the stinger from my hand and continue celebrating the daily Mass. Some few weeks later this sequence was repeated when another bee struck in the same area of the same hand. I hadn’t known that I was that sweet to warrant a second bee attack. Perhaps the Lord had sent them to shock me awake at six o clock in the morning. These little creatures had sacrificed their lives and my body for the cause.
These little creatures have made a considerable impression here in Kalaupapa. At any time they are likely to find sanctuary in some area of our township. Just a couple of years ago a swarm found refuge over the entrance to the Sisters’ chapel next to the Manor House at Bishop Home. There they hovered for several months until some professionals came to remove and relocate them. Then there was the swarm of bees in a tree on the edge of the lawn behind the rectory. They may have chased the lawn mowers from that immediate area because I subsequently noticed that the grass grew rather long in that proximity. Such is the threat of a bee sting. Come get them, Paul Holsten.
Since my personal encounters with these little creatures, I have more respect for these flying insects and have taken more interest in them, though I admit I have not taken any particular caution to avoid their barbs. After all they are God’s creatures and do serve an important role in our food chain. Not only do they produce honey, they keep our crops and plants alive by their pollination, ensuring the reproduction of one third of our global food supply. We would have much less to eat without their efforts. So we must ask the question, “To bee or not to bee? “
Bees are under threat because they are not completely appreciated for their tireless work and sometimes are intentionally exterminated or destroyed by accident. So there has been a decline in their numbers and as a result a decline in the plants that depend on their pollination. They are a vital resource for agriculture and in many regions the importance of bees is of much more value than honey or wax production.
While I have no desire to take another sting from a bee, wasp, scorpion or centipede, I am now more appreciative of the bee and am willing to accept an occasional sting if it means that the bee family still thrives and continues to provide for us as it does. As the Beetles once sung, “Let it be, let it be.” Aloha

Fr. Pat Killilea
St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa, Hawaii.

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