Weekly Reflection – A Sting in the Tail?

19 April 2024

The other day I came across a news article about bumblebees. Researchers in Canada had been studying queen bumblebees in their dormant state but, in a laboratory experiment gone wrong, they had accidentally drowned them. But far from being a terminal act they were astonished to discover that the sleeping bees were still alive. Most people at this juncture might have been kind and simply noted this as an intriguing anomaly. But no. The researchers decided to conduct a second experiment specifically to determine whether this was a one-off event and, if not, how long bumblebees could survive under water. So, they set up test tubes: one set as a control with a dry but sleepy bee; another with the test tube flooded and the bee floating on the top of the water; and a third set with a plunger keeping the poor bee submerged. They then checked in on the bees at intervals. What they found was that nine out of ten bees survived the experience, which was certainly good news for the bees concerned, though how angry those bees were when woken is not recorded. It’s not clear how the bees survived drowning but one theory is that they are able to trap a bubble of air over their breathing holes which is enough to sustain their reduced metabolism whilst dormant.

In this season of Easter when we continue to rejoice in the resurrection of Christ, the story of the bees is a good metaphor for what God has done for us. We were drowning in the waters of sin, but Christ’s victory over death sustains us and gives us life. We are like sleepers waking into the new light of the resurrection. As St Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians says, ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ Let us therefore celebrate the fact that Christ has overcome the sting of death! Alleluia!

In Christ,
Canon Kathryn

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