18 July 2008
As early as 2006, an alarm began sounding across the World with countries like the US, China, Argentina, Kenya and Africa recording a loss in the numbers of their bee populations. The bees are not dying off as there are not any visible carcasses, but they are simply vanishing into thin air. Scientists blame it on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is when bees desert their colonies never to be seen again. The theory behind CCD is that some outside factor is driving the bees away. Perhaps it is pollution, loss of habitat due to construction projects by humans and some have even blamed it on cell-phones. Apparently, the bee becomes confused and is unable to find its' way back to the hive. Since 2006, it is estimated that 1/3 of the total population of bees in the US alone has disappeared.
So, what's wrong with a few bugs disappearing, or perhaps dying, here and there? A lot. The humble honeybee is an integral part of our ecosystem. Bees provide wholesome honey that nourishes our bodies and acts as a medicament for a slew of illnesses. A recent study in China proved that honey contains the highest concentration of vitamins, minerals and vital hormones to man than any other food on the face of the Earth.
The bee is also the hardest and most efficient worker in all of Allah's Creation. The bee does not even take a day off and is continuously producing honey, building amazing hexagonal hives or pollinating. Without the bee's pollination efforts all the different species of plants and trees would eventually die off. The food chain would come to a screeching and deadly halt. Without bees, vegetation cannot grow as fast or efficiently. And without vegetation for fodder, animals will die. There will be nothing left for humans to eat. Life, on this Earth, would end.
The bee, for those who open their eyes, is a mercy to humankind straight from Allah, the Almighty, who says in the Holy Quran: "And has subjected to you all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth; it is all as a favour and kindness from Him. Verily, in it are signs for a people who think deeply."(45:13)
Scientists have dissected every part of the bee's life. And evidence proves that the bee, instead of the dog, is man's best friend. Bees produce more honey than they could ever use or need. Yet they continue to work day in and day out as if they know they are providing fuel for another living being. It takes a whopping 17,000 honeybees to produce 450 gms of honey. The bees must visit approximately 10 million flowers to collect the nectar to produce the sticky sweet treat. The honeybee often flies great distances to visit so many flowers. And all the while he is pollinating the Earth as the sticky pollen sticks to the bee's hind legs and the vibration of his wings makes it fall all over the landscape of the Earth. The bee finds his way back home to the hive every time where other workers maintain the fine balance of the honeycomb to ensure that the honey is well preserved and perfect. Inside the hive, there are 'ventilator' bees that thump themselves against the hive to ensure that the hexagon hubs of the honeycomb remain cool. The constant 'fanning' of the bees ensures that the taste and concentration of the honey is not altered by humidity. There are also female bees responsible for the 'housekeeping'. The females remove any debris or dead insects that may have flown into the hive. And in the event that the foreign object is too heavy for her to remove, she coats it with a substance made by her own body called Propolis, which comes out of her feet. This substance has anti-bacterial properties so that a dead bug in a hive of honey cannot infect the entire hive thus rendering the honey harmful for consumption. So, with all of these painstaking measures taken by the humble honeybee, we can easily use honey to our benefit and acquiring it (at least for now) is as easy as making a trip to the local supermarket.
As I mentioned before, it is as if the bees know that their job is vital to mankind. And the Holy Quran reveals that the bees do indeed know what their purpose is.
Allah, the Almighty, says in the Holy Quran:
"And your Lord inspired the bee, saying: 'Take your habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. Then, eat of all fruits, and follow the ways of your Lord made easy (for you).' There comes forth from their bellies, a drink of varying coluor wherein is healing for men. Verily, in this is indeed a sign for people who think."(16:68-69)
Even before Scientists could unravel all the mysteries of honey, the health benefits and all the toil it's tiny manufacturer goes through, Allah revealed the mystery to man in the Holy Quran. There are innumerable instances in the Holy Quran where Allah tells us all about His Creation. All we have to do is be willing to open the Quran and read all about it!
Sumayyah Meehan is a Kuwait-based American writer who embraced Islam. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org