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Passion for pollination

Jesse Brown connects beekeeping and faith

By Erica Morman & Becca Eis | Echo

For most, honeybees evoke fear, but for Dean of Students Jesse Brown, the contrary occurs.

Brown began beekeeping in the spring of 2016 after reading a book titled “A Beekeeper’s Lament.” This book covered the stories of various beekeepers, from a large-scale beekeeper to a simple man in his backyard.

(The book) made me realize that beekeeping is alike to spiritual disciplines in the sense that you’re having to steward something,” Brown said. “You are having to create space for it to grow and prosper. The same is required for our spiritual walk. We have to create space for God to work and be patient enough to allow Him to fulfill His will through us.”

Jesse Brown, dean of students, checks on his bees’ development. Brown currently observes two hives of his own. (Photograph provided by Jesse Brown)

Jesse Brown, dean of students, checks on his bees’ development. Brown currently observes two hives of his own. (Photograph provided by Jesse Brown)

He joined a small co-op of people who had bees, rabbits and chickens. They began with one hive, but the bees died by the following winter.

Brown has found fellowship in the community of beekeepers. Beekeepers he encounters are always willing and excited to discuss the hobby and provide any advice they may have to offer.

“(Beekeeping) tends to attract intentional people,” Brown said. “It’s like everybody being a fan of the same obscure band.”

After moving to Upland, Brown obtained another hive, which produces about 12 gallons of honey each season, which he keeps, gives away or sells. Beekeeping is simply a hobby for Brown, not a way to make money.

According to Brown, the most important aspect of checking up on the bees is making sure they are returning to the hive.

“Beekeeping caused me to notice the world around me,” Brown said. “After caring for bees, you realize that you are not the only person on your little piece of property. It is such an observable science. You can just open up the lid and watch as the different stages of development. To see all the honey you’ve watched them make cover a table in little jars is pretty cool. You also get to experience what your yard tastes like.”

Brown noted the observable growth of honeybees aligns with the observable growth of ourselves and those around us when nurtured with tenderness and care. Community does not merely result from conversation and activity, but a conscious decision to press into the souls of those we encounter on a daily basis. Uncovering hidden aspects of people’s stories requires effort. It requires patience. It requires boldness.

According to Brown, approaching a beehive requires courage because of the inherent danger involved. Just as courage is required to approach a hive, courage is required to approach Christ with a willing heart. Both beekeeping and life demand concentration and observation. Failing to exercise either of these attributes results in the failure of a hive, a friendship or even an opportunity. Beekeeping teaches that results do not always reflect the time and effort one put forth; therefore, faith and patience is required.

“Overall, I’ve learned that beekeeping is the art of creating space,” Brown said. “What you fill that space with is what matters.”

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