Lessons from Honeybees


In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Peace be upon you,

Honeybees choose a new home by due consultation, and a process of consensus building that’s quick and effective by God’s design. How effective? They end up making the right choice some 90-95% of the time according to Professor Thomas Seeley.

The process honey bees use to choose their home reminds us of a variety of Quranic principles that God recommends for us in our lives and our decision-making. In Chapter 42 of the Quran (title: Consultation, or Al-Shoora in Arabic), God encourages the believers to decide their affairs by due consultation (Quran 42:38).

For this democratic process to work, we need to uphold the truth and be absolutely equitable when bearing witness (Quran 2:177, 5:8). Another helpful trait, is that scout bees (who are usually elder and more experienced) do not blindly follow what another honey bee is saying—they verify the information for themselves (Quran 17:36). Finally, we see that the bees are not fanatical or egotistical about their viewpoints. Once they have presented the hive and how good they think it is, they are open-minded and willing to accept other viewpoints and be part of forming a consensus with the rest of the hive, even if it is not the opinion they originally presented.

All of these fall into traits God recommends for humans, and important for a successful democracy:

  • truthfulness (3:17)
  • killing one’s ego (2:54)
  • not insisting on our ways despite the proofs (98:1)
  • seeking the truth rather than being wedded to one’s personal opinion (38:26)
  • regarding one’s associates (4:36)

To conclude with a few verses from Quran on bees and consultation.

The Bee

[Quran 16:68-69] And your Lord inspired the bee: build homes in mountains and trees, and in (the hives) they build for you. Then eat from all the fruits, following the design of your Lord, precisely. From their bellies comes a drink of different colors, wherein there is healing for the people. This should be (sufficient) proof for people who reflect.*
*16:69 Besides its recognized nutritive value, honey has been scientifically proven as a healing medicine for certain allergies and other ailments.
[Quran 42:38] They respond to their Lord by observing the Contact Prayers (Salat). Their affairs are decided after due consultation among themselves, and from our provisions to them they give (to charity).


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About masjidtucson

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. "Read, in the name of your Lord, who created.* He created man from an embryo. Read, and your Lord, Most Exalted. Teaches by means of the pen. He teaches man what he never knew." [Quran 96:1-5]
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