In discoursing upon bees, Steiner harkened back to long traditions of finding spiritual meaning
or at least symbolism in bees and beehives. Here are a few indications of these traditions:
"In [ancient] Egypt, the bee was associated with the sun and regarded as a symbol of the soul. — In Greece, it was regarded as a priestly animal ... The bee, which seems to die in the winter and return in the spring, is also occasionally encountered as a symbol for death and resurrection ... In Christianity, [the bee's] tireless work also led it to become a symbol for hope ... [H]oney represents Christ's gentleness and compassions, whereas the stinger represents Christ as judge of the world. — Since, according to ancient tradition, bees do not produce their own offspring...they were regarded in the Middle Ages as a symbol of the Immaculate Conception." — Udo Becker, THE CONTINUUM ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SYMBOLS (Continuum, 2000), p. 38.
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"In Ancient Egypt [the bee] was associated with a lightning. It was said that bees were born from the tears of the solar God Ra. In Greek religion a bee was a symbol of soul and was identified with Demeter, the goddess of the harvest and the fertility. The ideal organisation of society was declared to be monarchy and bees were the best example of that. In Christian symbolism [the bee] represents the immortality of soul and signifies the resurrection. During three months of winter it seems to disappear as Christ was dead for three days before his resurrection. The bee’s sting was associated with the Judgment Day. It is also a sign of wisdom. The beehive is a symbol in the third degree of Freemasonry." — "Bees", SYMBOLS (http://symbols.ehibou.com/bee/).
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"[Various] schools of esoteric thought provide insight into the Bee [sic], or have incorporated it into their ideological framework, such as Freemasonry, the secret Sufi Society, the Priory of Sion and the Cercle Saint Dagobert II, to recall a few. But perhaps none are as infamous as the Order of the Illuminati, a ‘secret’ society founded by the German philosopher Johann Adam Weishaupt on 1 May, 1776. Curiously, Weishaupt had considered naming his order ‘Bees’ – not ‘Order of the Illuminati’. This was, in all likelihood, due to his strong Masonic affiliations and appreciation of the Greek mysteries, which of course are heavily laden with Bee symbolism. In any event, the goal of the order was nothing less than world domination and consisted of a complicated network of spies acting anonymously in what has been described as a 'cell-like' structure, complete with matrix reporting to unknown superiors." — "The Bee in Esoteric Studies", ANDREW GOUGH'S ARCADIA (http://www.andrewgough.co.uk/bee3_2.html).
"[I]t may seem curious that an occult aspirant should choose the seemingly lowly and unaspiring bee as a symbol of his chosen study. To those who have examined the aims and precepts of occultism more closely, the obvious connection is summarized well by a statement of St. John Chrysostom in his twelfth homily: 'The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.' Indeed, the bee works unceasingly for the common good of the hive, and obeys without question what sometimes appears to be an inequitable hierarchy. So, too, does the occultist aim to serve the common good of humanity. He does so in two ways — by first developing himself to be a fit vessel for the spiritual forces that he makes use of in his work, and secondly, by directing those spiritual forces to aid in correcting the imbalances in the knowledge or circumstances of those that come to him for assistance." — "Symbolism of the Bee", POLARIS (http://www.polarissite.net/home.html).
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"Bees are believed to have originated in Paradise and they are traditionally known as the 'little servants of God' or 'divine messengers.' The belief, in ancient times, was that they had knowledge of the future and of all secrets. It is often still felt to be very unlucky to kill one ... Beekeepers in the past would communicate regularly with the bees; some visiting the bee hives each evening to tell of the day's events. It was particularly important to inform the bees of a death in the family ... There remains [sic] many superstitions regarding bees. If a bee lands on a person's hand, this suggests money is on its way. If a bee lands on someone's head, they will be successful in life. Good luck or the arrival of a stranger should be expected should a bee fly into the home ... A bride should inform the bees of her marriage otherwise they will leave the hive and not return. It is also customary to leave a piece of bridal or funeral cake for the bees to feed on. The familiar humming of the bees was felt to be a hymn of praise ... [T]he bee's sting is said to be a good cure for rheumatism!" — Carole Somerville, "Bees and Omens and Superstitions", YAHOO VOICES (http://voices.yahoo.com/bees-omens-superstitions-6312268.html).
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"The beehive is found in Masonry as a reminder that in diligence and labor for a common good true happiness and prosperity are found. The bee is a symbol of wisdom, for as this tiny insect collects pollen from the flowers, so men may extract wisdom from the experiences of daily life. The bee is sacred to the goddess Venus and, according to mystics, it is one of several forms of life which came to the earth from the planet Venus millions of years ago. Wheat and bananas are said to be of similar origin. This is the reason why the origin of these three forms of life cannot be traced. The fact that bees are ruled by queens is one reason why this insect is considered a sacred feminine symbol." — Manly P. Hall, THE SECRET TEACHINGS OF ALL AGES (Dover Publications, 2010), p. 222.
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We began with a remarkable statement of Steiner's,
in which he says that the beehive
is more highly evolved than the human being;
indeed, the beehive represents a level of development
that the human being will attain only
in a future evolutionary stage,
which Steiner called Future Venus.
This is worth mulling over.
This is Steiner's vision.
Do you find it attractive?
Do you find it sensible?
"On" Venus, we will be as evolved as beehives.
Consider what sort of picture this creates for our future.
Consider what this tells us about Steiner's vision.
(Do you aspire to a life analogous to a beehive?)
I'll leave it at that.
(Here is the statement again, fleshed out.
I have also included a couple of other remarks Steiner made
on the same theme.)
“The group soul of a beehive is a very high level being, higher than that of ants. It is of such a high development that you might almost say it is cosmically precocious. It has attained a level of evolutionary development that human beings will later reach in the Venus cycle, which follows the completion of the present Earth cycle. We must view it as we would a precocious child; it stands apart from lines of the normal evolutionary progress that most animals have followed. This is also true of the group soul of ants, except that it is at a lower level. The group soul of corals, however, is on a still higher plane than both." 
•• ◊ ••
"This is the bee. When you study the whole hive, you have something totally different from the single bee. The whole beehive has a spiritual life that in some ways corresponds to life on Saturn on a lower stage, and that will be reached on Venus on a higher level. The body of the bee, however, has stayed on the old Saturn level. We must indeed distinguish the soul of the whole beehive as no ordinary group soul but a being in itself, and the single bee as having preserved the form that the human body passed through on Saturn. Because the bee is retarded as outer being, it could win a higher spiritual consciousness. Hence the wonderful social composition of the beehive! The bee is the symbol of the spiritual man who does not know mortality. When man was of such spirituality, our planet was in a fiery state. When, as Venus, it will again be quite fiery, man will again be a spiritual being. Thus, in the bee you have the being that is the fire being for the occultist." 
•• ◊ ••
"In the way a beehive functions one experiences something which is outside our earthly existence, something which is not found anywhere else on earth. What takes place on the other planets cannot be discovered merely by thinking. One cannot for example experience what is taking place on the Sun or Venus if one is unable to transfer one's consciousness into the life and functioning of a colony of bees. The bee has not gone through the whole course of evolution as we have. From the outset it has not been connected with the same evolutionary sequence as the other animals and man. The consciousness of the beehive, not of the single bee, is immensely lofty. The wisdom of this consciousness will only be attained by man in the Venus existence. Then he will have the consciousness which is necessary in order to build with a substance which he creates out of his own being. The ants build the ant heap out of all sorts of things, but as yet build no cells. The building of cells is on higher planes something absolutely different. Through transferring one's consciousness into the beehive, through taking on the Venus consciousness, one learns something entirely different from anything else on earth, the complete recession of the element of sex. With the bees what is sexual is vested only in the one queen. The kama-sexuality is almost entirely eliminated; the drones are killed. Here we have the prototype of something which will actually be accomplished in a future humanity, when work is the highest principle. It is only through the impulse of the spirit that one gains the faculty of transferring oneself into the community of the bees." 
 Rudolf Steiner, BEES (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 176.
 Ibid., p. 173.
 Ibid., p. 176. The same passage can be found in THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES AND THE PHYSICAL WORLD, REALITY AND ILLUSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1996).
According to Steiner, group souls are the souls shared by entire species or by groupings within species. They are distinct from individual souls. [See, e.g., "Four Group Souls"]. By "Venus," Steiner means Future Venus, a coming stage of human/cosmic evolution. [See "Future Stages"]. Steiner taught that we began our evolution in a period called Old Saturn. We proceeded to Old Sun and Old Moon. We now exist on the planet Earth in the evolutionary stage called Present Earth. In the future, we will evolve to stages called Future Jupiter, then Future Venus (!), and then Future Vulcan (!!). [See "Matters of Form".]
 Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), lecture 2, GA 101.
Consider "the wonderful social composition of the beehive!"
By "occultist," Steiner means people such as himself who possess (or claim to possess) occult secrets of existence. [See "Occultism".]
 Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 4, GA 93a.
"Kama" is Sanskrit for desire. According to Steiner's teachings, derived from Theosophy, creatures possessing astral bodies are motivated, in part, by an impelling force called kama. (Astral bodies are the second of three invisible bodies that incarnate during the first 21 years of human life on Earth. Astral bodies incarnate at about age 14. [See "Incarnation".])
Consider the future described, "when work [will be] the highest principle."
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