na deyam nopabhogyam ca
lubdhair yad duhkha-sañcitam
bhunkte tad api tac canyo
A greedy person accumulates a large quantity of money with great struggle and pain, but the person who has struggled so much to acquire this wealth is not always allowed to enjoy it himself or give it in charity to others. The greedy man is like the bee who struggles to produce a large quantity of honey, which is then stolen by a man who will enjoy it personally or sell it to others. No matter how carefully one hides his hard-earned wealth or tries to protect it, there are those who are expert in detecting the whereabouts of valuable things, and they will steal it.
One may argue that a wealthy man may conceal his money so expertly, by investing it in banks, stocks, properties, and so on, that there is no danger of theft. Only foolish people actually hide money by burying it in the ground or placing it under a mattress. But despite the fact that the majority of the world’s wealth has been accumulated in highly developed capitalistic countries, these countries are being severely challenged by many enemies who threaten at any moment to overrun the capitalists and steal their wealth. Similarly, we often find that the children of wealthy people are kidnapped, and then their parents must pay huge ransoms. Sometimes the parents themselves may also be kidnapped. Furthermore, there are so-called investment counselors who are expert in stealing the money of rich people; and in the modern age governments have also become expert in stealing money by taxation. Thus, the word artha-vit indicates one who by hook or by crook is expert in stealing the hard-earned wealth of other people. The bees work frantically to produce honey, but they will not enjoy their honey. As Lord Krsna states, mrtyuh sarva-haras caham: “I will come as death personified and steal everything.” (Bg. 10.34) Somehow or other one’s hard-earned material opulence will be stolen, and therefore, as mentioned in this verse, one should not work uselessly like the foolish honeybee.