Dornach, February 3, 1923.
morning, gentlemen! Since our last meeting have you thought of any
question you would like to ask me?
question was asked as to the effects of absinthe, also a question as
to the difference between bees and wasps.)
asking his question the gentleman in the audience, as an expert
bee-master, draws attention to the differences between the life
of the bees and that of the wasps. There is much that is similar
here, and I have recently described the life of the wasps to you.
The life of the bees much resembles it, but, on the other hand,
in the bee-hive there is a very special and remarkable life. How
can we account for this?
You see, this
cannot be fully explained without the faculty of spiritual perception. That
the life of the hive is extraordinarily wisely organised no one who has
ever observed it can deny. Naturally, no one can say that the bees
have the same kind of intelligence that men have, for we certainly
have the instrument of the brain, whereas the bees have nothing of
the kind; thus the universal world wisdom cannot be drawn into their
bodies in the same way. But influences coming from the whole
surrounding universe do, none the less, work with immense power in
the bee-hive. Indeed, one can only arrive at a right
understanding of what the life of the bees truly is, when one takes
into account that the whole environment of the earth has a very great
influence upon the life of the colony. This life within the hive
rests upon the fact that the bees, to a much greater extent than the
ants and wasps, work so completely together, so arranging their whole
activity that everything is in harmony.
If one would
understand how this comes about, one must say: In the life of the bee
everything that in other creatures expresses itself as sexual life is, in
the case of the bees, suppressed, very remarkably suppressed; it is very
much driven into the background. For you see, in the case of
the bees, reproduction is limited to quite a few exceptional female
individuals — the Queen bees — to a very few chosen
individuals, for in the others the sexual life is more or less
But it is
love that is present in the life of sex, and love belongs to the
realm of the soul; and further, through the fact that certain organs of
the body are worked upon by forces of the soul, these organs become able
to reveal, to express love. Thus, because all this is driven into the
background in the nature of the bees, and reserved for the Queen bee
alone, the whole otherwise sexual life of the colony is transformed
into those activities which the bees develop among themselves.
It was for this
reason that in olden times, wise men who had a knowledge of all this quite
different from the knowledge of men today, that these wise men
related the whole wonderful activity within the hive to the life of
love, to that part of life which they connected with the planet
If we describe
the wasps and ants we can say they are creatures which, in a certain sense,
withdraw from the influence of Venus, whereas the bees surrender
themselves entirely to Venus, unfolding a life of love throughout the
whole hive. This life will be filled with wisdom; you can well
imagine how wise it must be!
I have already
told you various things about the reproductive process and the unconscious
wisdom contained in it. This unconscious wisdom is unfolded by the
bees in their external activity. What we only experience when love
arises in our hearts is to be found, as it were, in the whole
bee-hive as substance. The whole hive is in reality permeated with
love. The individual bees renounce love in manifold ways, and thus
develop love throughout the whole hive. One only begins to understand
the life of the bees when one knows that the bee lives in an
atmosphere completely pervaded by love.
On the other
hand the bee is quite especially favoured by the fact that, in its turn,
it feeds upon just those parts of the plants which are also wholly pervaded
by love. The bees suck out their food — which they then turn into
honey — exclusively from those parts of the plants that are
centred in love; they bring, so to speak, the love-life of the
flowers into the hive.
Hence one must
say that the life of the bees must be studied by making use of the soul.
This is much
less necessary when we study the ants and the wasps for we shall see that
here, though they withdraw themselves to some extent, still they do
surrender themselves more to sexual life. With the exception of the
Queen, the bees are actually beings which, as I would like to put it,
say to themselves “We will renounce the individual sexual life
that we make ourselves ‘bearers of love.’” Thus
they have been able to bring what lives in the flowers into the hive;
and when you begin really to think this out rightly, you will reach
the whole mystery of the bee-hive.
The life of
this sprouting, budding love which is in the flowers is there too, within
the honey. You can also study what honey does, when you eat it yourself.
What does the honey do? When honey is eaten it furthers the right
connection in man between the airy and the watery elements. Nothing
is better for man than to add the right proportion of honey to his
food. For in a wonderful way the bees see to it that man learns to
work with his soul upon the organs of his body. In the honey the bee
gives back again to man what he needs to further the activity of his
soul-forces within his body. Thus when man adds some honey to his
food, he wishes so to prepare his soul that it may work rightly
within his body — breathe rightly.
is therefore something that greatly helps to advance our civilisation,
for it makes men strong.
You see, when
one realises that the bees receive very many influences from the starry
worlds, one sees also how they can pass on to man what is fitted for him.
All that is living, when it is rightly combined, works rightly together.
When one stands before a hive of bees one should say quite solemnly
to oneself: “By way of the bee-hive the whole Cosmos enters man
and makes him strong and able.”