(This article was originally published in Ownit Magazine, Issue #3)
The Texas heat was oppressive the afternoon I stepped into a surprising mess on the garage floor of our new home. It was a glowing, golden pool of stickiness that caught me completely off guard. My eyes followed the amber-colored puddle to thick, yellow lines on the cement wall leading to where the drywall met the foundation. “What on earth?!” I blurted out in total confusion. I pressed my finger to the steady stream of sticky mess and brought it hesitantly to my nose, reluctantly placing my tongue to my finger to confirm what I suspected. It was honey. A stream of honey dripping down through the walls puddling on the garage floor.
I had just moved from England with my family to this new frontier in Texas, and had already been quite unsettled by cockroaches, scorpions, and pests completely different from the polite spiders and occasional gnats of the rainy climate to which I had been accustomed. Now, I was faced with an unfortunately-placed beehive and a honey-bee invasion!
Upon entering our home hoping to locate the source of this unusual puddle, the circumstances became even worse. There were honey bees every where, flying in from the ductwork, drawn to the light of the windows and crawling on the carpet. We quickly packed the children into the car, gathered a few essentials and drove away to a temporary hotel so we could call pest control and get the bees and honey figured out.
It turned out that several months before we had moved into the home, a swarm of well-meaning honey bees had determined to take up residence in the eaves of the roof line, in between the interior and exterior walls, two stories up. They had reached a critical mass and were getting lost in the air vents, dropping into the bedrooms upstairs. This particularly hot day had melted the honeycomb so much that the excess ran like a river down the walls, flowing through two stories of insulation and framing, and resulting in the puddle I found that afternoon on the garage floor. After much searching, we found a honey-bee removal service and watched in amazement as the professional suited up, climbed the ladder, cut a hole into the exterior wall, and pulled out enough dripping honeycomb to fill a large garbage bag. It was like nothing I had ever seen before!
After a few days, the bees left entirely. The pungent smell of hundreds of bees that had died filled the air. We had much work to do in cleaning up, repairing the exterior wall, removing interior walls to clean and restore, and then patching and repainting.
During the days we we lived in a hotel, waiting for it to be safe to return home, I learned a lot about the simple honey bee and its highly organized hive. In an article entitled “Be Anxiously Engaged”, M. Russell Ballard explained that “honeybees are driven to pollinate, gather nectar, and condense the nectar into honey. It is their magnificent obsession imprinted into their genetic makeup. It is estimated that to produce just one pound (0.45 kg) of honey, the average hive of 20,000 to 60,000 bees must collectively visit millions of flowers and travel the equivalent of two times around the world.”
I collected the puddle of honey full of dirt I had found on the garage floor, and have often considered the lessons and applications to my life and business from this extraordinary experience.
I truly mourned watching the sweet honeycomb being pulled from the roofline and thrown away. It was something that could have been so useful and beneficial, all going to waste. Those thousands of bees had worked so diligently, following their instinct, but had done so in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Consider your life’s purpose. Why are you here, doing the things that you are doing? Are you just spinning your wheels with your tasks each day, quickly responding and reacting without ensuring that your best efforts are going to the most important actions and tasks? Are your best talents being used up in places and ways that are not contributing to the improvement of yourself and those around you? Are you an influence for good? Are you fulfilling your life’s purpose with intent and passion?
Know this—Your contribution matters. How you spend your time matters. You may think your sphere of influence is small, or insignificant. Or, perhaps you are in a position of power—power to affect change—and you can be an influence for good for many people. Whatever your sphere is, own it! Make absolutely certain that your best efforts are taking care of the most important people and tasks first. Do not build your life around things that do not matter. Recognize your potential to continue to grow and progress. There is no person so perfect that growth is not needed, no person so complete that they cannot learn and benefit from the strength of others. When our efforts are in the right place, with the right people, at the right time, there is no limit to the power that is within us.