'Be the bee': The beehive as a metaphor for life in Christian community

Martin Marklin examines one of his 150 beehives near his liturgical candlemaking business in Contoocook, New Hampshire.  Photo courtesy of Casey Atkins

When liturgical candle maker Martin Marklin became curious about the creatures making the wax he used in his business, he found his life and work transformed. In this 5-minute video, Marklin explains what bees can teach us about living as Christians.

The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.

-- St. John Chrysostom

Martin Marklin took up beekeeping as a sideline to his main business producing thousands of handcarved liturgical candles each year at the Marklin Candle workshop in Contoocook, New Hampshire. Beekeeping became its own vocation, however, and the more Marklin learned about the life of bees, the more he saw the ways in which the beehive reflects the early church.

Questions to consider

  • Martin Marklin says he became interested in beekeeping when he realized he “had no idea how the bees did what they did.” What aspects of your work are you curious about? How might exploring those areas open up your imagination? Is there any anxiety you need to overcome to do this?
  • Marklin says the bee community “is reflective of how the early church was.” Do you see powerful metaphors for the church around you?
  • In what ways do you “labor for others”? Is that a useful mindset in your organization?
  • As a candle maker, Marklin derives joy from knowing that the work of his hands becomes “the light of Christ in the world.” Do you see your work in that way? Could you?
  • Markin urges everyone to “be the bee” -- to find beauty and transform it into something even more beautiful. Are there places in your life and work where you can do that?