The Honey Guide

September 16

They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. Jeremiah 4:22, NKJV

The honey guide is a bird that gets its name from leading ani­mals and people to bee nests. When the bird finds such a nest, it will go in search of someone strong enough to rip open the nest. Usually this is the ratel, a member of the weasel family that likes the honey and has strong claws to open the nest for both itself and the honey guide. When a honey guide can’t find a ratel, it will try to lead another animal, such as a baboon or even a person, to the honey source.

As a child I always thought the honey guide would be a great bird to have around. But as I learned more about the bird I liked it less and less. In fact, it now seems to me to be a rather de­testable creature.

I had thought that the honey guide liked honey and just needed some help to get to it. As it turns out, it likes the wax instead of the honey. And what it is really after are the baby bees, which it eats with relish.

The honey guide is a member of the woodpecker family. Woodpeckers eat grubs, and baby bees look just like grubs. So I could understand the habit, even though I didn’t like it. But really it was something else that turned me against the honey guide. The mother honey guide lays her eggs in the nests of woodpeckers, to which she is related. When a baby honey guide hatches, it has two sharp hooks on its bill. It uses these to kill the other babies in the nest so that it will have all the attention of its foster parents. The foster woodpecker parents continue to slave away bringing in food to raise their uninvited guest.

Even though I know the honey guide is being natural, I don’t like what it does. But often, when someone does something we don’t like, our dislike is fastened on the person as well as, or in­stead of, the deed. This is not the way Jesus is. He loves us even though we sin.

Windows on God’s World – James Tucker