Do not act like the spider, who represents the proud; but imitate the bee, who is the symbol of the humble soul. The spider spins its web where everyone can see it, and never in secret. It spins in orchards, going from tree to tree, in houses, on windows, on floors—in short, before the eyes of all. In this it resembles the vain and hypocritical who do everything to be seen and admired by others. Their works are in fact only spiders’ webs, fit to be cast into the fires of Hell. But the bees are wiser and more prudent, for they prepare their honey in the hive where no one can see them. Besides that, they build little cells where they continue their work in secret. This represents very well the humble soul, who is always withdrawn within herself, without seeking any glory or praise for her actions. Rather, she keeps her intention hidden, being content that God sees and knows what she does.
Saint Francis de Sales, sermon for Ash Wednesday, given February 9, 1622
Numbers, organizations, unwearied toil and discipline would all make the bee no more than the ant — the symbol of masses doomed to endure their fate — were it not that it has wings and a song, and distills immortal honey from the delicate scent of flowers. (Dictionary of Symbols)