San Isidro, or St. Isidore, lived in Spain in the late 11th/early 12th century. He is the patron saint of farmworkers, and of agriculture in general. His feast day is May 15th.
The Spanish word labrador refers to someone who works the land, not a laborer in the more general sense of a worker. Isidro was a farm worker–not a landowner. He labored in the fields of others. The most famous story of him tells of the other farm workers resenting Isidro because he showed up late to the fields every morning, having stopped to attend Mass first. They complain to the landowner, who comes to check at day’s end and finds that Isidro has accomplished as much, or more, work as the others. Puzzled, he returns earlier the next day, and finds that Isidro is accomplishing more because there is an Angel plowing alongside him.
Isidro was said to be able to bring water forth from dry ground. In another story, he sees wood pigeons scrabbling for food on the hard winter ground. Taking pity, he feed them half of his master’s grain, which he was taking to be ground at the mill. Observers mock him for foolishly throwing away the grain, but when the remaining grain is run through the mill, it produces twice as much flour as expected.
The worker bee is both Isidro and the angel. Any one bee, like any one farm worker, may seem inconsequential, but without them, there is far less food. Not just our survival, but all our accomplishments, depend on forces greater than and beyond ourselves.