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Light in Darkness


Author Erin Gray shares insights into the work of bees as metaphor for the spirituality of parenting.

My morning routine starts with a cup of coffee and a 5 gallon bucket converted into a makeshift chair. I sit in the sifting sunlight and watch my bees begin their day of foraging. The crisp morning air, warm coffee, and humming of bees is the most sacred of moments, and one that I treasure. As a fourth generation beekeeper, I was taught the secret of keeping bees by my granddaddy, and his daddy taught him. Some of my fondest childhood memories take place in the hive yard on a warm summer’s day.

A honeybee completes a fascinating task. They bring light into darkness. The hive, the home of the bees, is in constant darkness. Nurse bees and house cleaning bees will rarely see the sunlight—the queen, only once on her mating flight.

Honey is the collection of nectar from a variety of floral sources, carried by the bee to the hive and stored in the honeycomb cells. Honey is the essence of light, the absorption of water, air, and nutrients from plants through the process of photosynthesis. The bees store this essence of light in pure darkness.

Honey bees work together as one body even though a colony may hold thousands of individual bees. If the hive has a need, the bees fulfill that need without fail. It is a family, a cohesive unit.

As parents, are we so different from the honey bee? We have this beautiful responsibility to shed light in a world of darkness—to nurture our children and raise them in a safe environment. The simple act of teaching me to keep bees was a gift my granddaddy shared with me. Yet, he taught me so much more—to listen and respect nature, to find beauty in the smallest of God’s creations, and to love simply. I strive each day to be a light in the darkness for my children as my granddaddy was for me, as the honey is for the comb.


Erin S. Gray writes historical fiction for adults and young adults. She backpacks through the very mountains about which she writesand was inspired to begin her novel, Moonshine Murder, after stumbling across an abandoned cabin during a trek deep in the San Juan Mountains. Erin is the 2013 president of Women Writing the West and an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. A graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in English, she lives in southwest Colorado with her husband and two young sons. For more information about the author, visit To learn more about her beekeeping adventures, visit High Desert Honey on Facebook.

Images courtesy Erin Gray

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