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Normandy author shares life from a hive

M.J. Miller is SWC speaker

By DAWN HANKINS - dhankins@t-g.com
Posted 5/21/22

Mary Jane (M.J.) Miller of Normandy was guest speaker during the May meeting of Shelbyville Woman’s Club, sharing thoughts from her Christian walk and first book, “Life Lessons from the …

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Normandy author shares life from a hive

M.J. Miller is SWC speaker

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Mary Jane (M.J.) Miller of Normandy was guest speaker during the May meeting of Shelbyville Woman’s Club, sharing thoughts from her Christian walk and first book, “Life Lessons from the Hive.” She dedicated the book in 2017 to “her two families: Christ-followers and beekeepers.”  

Miller brought a sample of a nuc, which was a model of a regular beehive. This was her illustration for a day, though the audience had to imagine the bee colony, for obvious reasons.  

“I want to ask you to imagine that it’s the middle of the afternoon and we’re watching the entrance to the hive.” She also asked that they envision hundreds of bees soon to walk on the platform. 

 She discussed the ritual of the bees. She said the bees first smell the wood and memorize every nuance. Soon, they will take off into the air. Yet, they examine the hive from the air first. They will go through another memorization ritual.  

“What they’re doing is they’re learning the look and feel of home. Even when hives are standing right next to one another, the bees don’t get confused, because they’re learned which hive is theirs.”  

The bees then survey the neighborhood, where they begin to catalog the look of trees and bushes. Then, they take their first solo flight.  

“Even though the bee flies out on her own, the truth is, a honey bee can’t survive alone. She must stay connected to her hive.”  

Miller advised how she and a missionary friend, Susan “Suki” Brannan, who was in attendance, started beekeeping together upon the advisement from a friend.  

A piece of cake right? Wrong, explained Miller.  

“We went to a beekeepers’ supply place . . piled it into the back of our friend’s truck. We looked like the “Beverly Hillbillies” coming home. It was teetering and tottering as we worked our way home.”  

Miller said soon, they realized they had a lot to learn about bees. So, she watched. “I would sit by the hives and I would watch them in the mornings. I would take my coffee . . . . In the evenings, I would take my sweet tea, because I’m a southern girl, and watch them. What happened was, God began to talk to me. He began to talk to me about how the bees operate and how the Kingdom of God operates and the parallels that come with that.”  

M.J., as she’s affectionately known, soon authored her first book. She said she’s learned so much in the process about the value of a bee. Polls show, she said, that 27% of Americans are afraid of insects, including bees. She said bees are also fifth on the fear list, behind snakes and public speaking.  

“So here I am, a public speaking missionary and beekeeper. But I can promise you I’m not going to be handling any snakes today, that’s for sure.” She talked about how the hive is made up of a community. Bottom line, she said everyone can learn a lot from bees.  

“A worker bee only lives about 5 to 6 weeks. She literally works herself to death.”  

She said honeybees are a critical part of God’s Creation. “Proof of it as well, to me, flowers need pollination in order to reproduce. And bees need pollen and nectar from the flowers in order to survive. So either they evolved at the same rate and time or God created them. Even a simple person like me can understand that one, right?”  

She said it takes over 770 bees—those flying about 55,000 miles—to make one pound of honey. That’s about one and a half times around the world. She referred to how King Solomon likened the health benefits of honey. She said scientists have proven that honey has over 180 vitamins, minerals and enzymes. But, she said give credit, where credit is due.  

“Each bee and her hive has a job to do. Each job is important. They don’t argue about it. They work together for the good of the colony, just as you work together for the good of the community or as Christ’s followers work together as a body.”  

She said guard bees protect the hive. “Others often die in field trying to bring in one last bit of pollen. “God gave the honeybee such a strong sense of community that every bee lives sacrificially for the family. Wouldn’t it be nice if we did?”  

Forager bees know where home is, the beekeeper explained. Miller has studied the parallels of bees and life as they relate to the Kingdom of God.  

“Today, more than ever, we must know where home is. We need a solid foundation. In this new normal that we’re living in, thanks to COVID and some other things, we can’t be swayed . . . we have to know the truth and keep watch over it, at home, and in our community. We’re all on different paths through the flower garden of life. We all have different spheres of influence. But as we mature, God has an assignment for all of us—as individuals and as communities.”  

The missionary talked about the Great Commission in Matthew 28, where Jesus told his disciples to “Go and disciple the nations.” In other words, teach them the truth, Miller advised.  

“According to Jesus, we’re not called to isolate ourselves from one another or the world. We’re called to connect, just like you’re connecting here today.”  

She said everyone is connected to at least one tribe or sphere of influence. She said the world needs to be connected to “the truth.”  

“What is the truth?” the missionary asked. “Jesus gives us the answer. He says ‘I am the Truth.’” 

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