People can learn a lot about how to live from bees, both for themselves and for their “hives.”

The individual contribution of a single bee is minuscule; an average honeybee makes only 1/12 teaspoons of honey in its entire life. But a hive can collectively produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey a year. To make even one pound of honey requires an immense effort; an entire hive must fly approximately 55,000 miles to visit 2 million flowers. If that isn’t a spectacular example of the power of collective effort then I don’t know what is.

I see bees as something of an ideal organism; they live and die for their hive, they never harm unless in defense of themselves or their community, and simply through existing as they are, bees improve the world and the lives of all creatures, big and small, around them. Bees are also largely non-aggressive. Sure, lack of resources, unseasonable weather, or attacks from predators can contribute to crankiness in bees. But, unlike most other organisms, hives generally won’t compete–two different species of bees could float right next to each other and pollinate the same flower. Moreover, when honeybees have flown too far from their hive and need shelter, they have been observed to provide “offerings” of regurgitated nectar to other hives to gain entry.

While I could drone on (ha.) endlessly about bees, let’s talk about hives, and how we can contribute to our respective hives. We all have a multitude of hives, whether you realize it or not.

I have one hive with my family, another with my friends, and another with my colleagues.

I have a hive of fellow hikers, lovers of the outdoors, and any who make an effort to admire, respect, and advocate for the protection of public trails and outdoor spaces.

I have a hive of fellow first-generation Asian-American folks who grapple with the difficulties of wanting to call the motherland “home,” without fully knowing or understanding her.

I have a hive with fellow women and women of color.

I have my LGBTQ hive, and within that hive is many other, smaller hives, each with distinct identities and unique struggles.

I have a hive of fellow journalists, writers, artists, and creatives.

I have a hive of those who care about social justice and consider themselves activists or advocates.

I have a hive of those interested in legal issues and who utilize their knowledge to improve accessibility and equity in all regards.

I have endless hives. And so do you. I discover new hives to call my own and to work with everyday. While I may not immediately know what hive I share with each new person I become acquainted with, I know we must share at least one.

I believe all people could benefit to think about their lives and their communities through the lens of a humble honeybee: work hard, do your best for your community, exist authentically without feeling the need to harm anyone else on your journey, and if you want to join a new hive, then put in the work to genuinely contribute to that hive.

My purpose is to pour all of my effort and energy into the survival and betterment of my hives.

What’s yours?