Now that spring is upon us and the flowers are blooming which makes the bees buzzing so I thought I would do some research on our little friend. Without the hard work of our friend where would we bee? LOL
Doing the research, it was hard to not find information on the bee without him being connected to the production of honey. I didn't want to focus on the honey aspect or even the mead so I think I found enough to make an interesting posting.
Many ancient cultures respected the bee very much and they have many legends about the insect. There are cave paintings that have been found in Spain dating from 7,000 BC which are the earliest records of bee keeping. Men have been collecting honey from the honey bee for at least 9,000 years. In some ancient cultures the bee were symbolic of sexuality, chasity, fertility, purity and care. They are also considered to be an image of a human soul due to their natural ability to find their way home from great distances.
In the Greek / Roman cultures it was thought that Aristaios was worshipped by the peasants as the guardian of beekeepers. In Greece, it was thought that good souls came back as bees. Zeus and Dionysus was feed by bees when they were babies. It was said that Dionysus to have made the first hives and taught the people how to gather honey. There is a legend that Melissa ( which means bee ) cared for the infant Zeus while he was hidden from his father, Chronos, the king of all the gods. Melissa fed Zeus a diet of honey that she stole from the hives. When she was discovered, she was turned into a lowly form of an insect. Zeus knew she kept him alive so he turned her into a bee. Bees were considered a higher form of an insect. Pan and Priapus protected and kept bees. Mellonia was the Roman goddess of the bees.
The priestesses that worshipped Artemis and Demeter were called 'bees'. The Delphic priestess is often referred to as a bee.
The Greeks believed that a baby whose lips were touched by a bee would become a great poet or speaker.
In the Roman legends it was Jupiter that was fed and protected by bees when he was hidden in a grotto by his mother Rea, on Ida Mountain. The Romans believed that a swarm of bees was bad luck and that they were a divine creature which originated directly from the gods.
The Egyptian culture paid their respects to the bee as well. The bee was the hieroglyphic symbol of the kingdom of Lower Egypt. Bees were thought to be created by the tears of Ra along with the humans. Sometimes the Bees were called the Tears of the Sun. They represented birth, death and resurrection. The Egyptians used the bee venom, in the form of a cream, as an ancient remedy for arthritis and rheumatism. The pharaohs used the honeybee as the royal symbol during the period between 3000 b.c.e. and 350 b.c.e.
The Chinese word for bee is feng. In many Chinese fairy tales the bees help young men to find the right bride. They saw the bee as a fickle insect since it flew from flower to flower.
Vishnu and Krishna, the Hindu gods, are called the Mahhava, the 'nectar born ones' in the Rig Veda. Vishnu was normally depicted as a blue bee sitting on a lotus flower, while Krishna has a blue bee on his forehead. Karma, the Hindu god is portrayed as a bee on a lotus as well. Shiva is shown in scripts as a bee above a triangle. The love god of the Hindu path, Kamadeva, had a bowstring made from honeybees.
The San people of the Kalahari Desert tells of a bee that carried a mantis across a river. The exhausted bee left the mantis on a floating flower but planted a seed on the dying mantis' body. The see grew to be the first human.
To the Mayans and Aztecs the bee was well known and respected. In the Mayan calendar, in the month of Mol ( starting Dec 3rd ) the beekeepers held a festival so that gods might provide flowers for the bees. Also in the month of Tzec ( starting Oct 4th ) the Mayans made offerings to the four chac ( rain ) gods. They put beeswax candles on four separate plates. The plates had a border of figures or glyphs that represented honey. These offerings was to bring abundance of flowers, which was the whole purpose of the ceremony. The festival ended with wine made from honey that the hive owners provided for everyone to drink. Ah Muzencab was the Mayan bee god. They were shown on the tops and bottoms of stone columns at Chichen Itza. There were respresented by aged men with long beards, upraised arms and wearing loins cloth.
The Aztecs had a bee god as well. The honey was their main source of sugar and the honeycombs supplied bee's wax for candle making.
In the Norse Finnish Kalevala it tells how Lemminkainen was restored to life by magic honey from Mehilainen, the bee.
In Ireland and Wales, the bee were thought to come from heaven and brought secrets of wisdom with them. In Celtic mythology the bee is a messenger between our world and the spirit realm. Bees were thought to be the conductors of the soul from this world. In Wales, a bee that was buzzing around a sleeping child meant that the child will have a happy life and a virgin was thought could always walk safely through a swarm of bees.
European settlers introduced the honeybees to North America during the 1600s. Native Americans called the bees the 'white man's flies'. In some areas of New England and the Appalachian Mountains, it was believed that once someone died it was important for the family to 'go tell the bees' of the death. Whoever kept the bees for the family would make sure the bees got the news so that they could spread it around.
Their are many other superstitions in dealing with the bee. If a bee flies into your house it means that someone is coming to visit. If you kill the bee it will bring you bad news. Another one, if a bee lands on your hand it means money is coming your way. Bees were thought to hate the odor of cattle and horses. Bees were also thought to be attracted to the sounds of clanging metal and thus bees were associated with the love of music.
The bee has been a busy worker throughout the world, history and time. Just as our ancient ancestors did let's show them a little respect. I know it's hard to do when we are so scared of them stinging us but consider without them we wouldn't bee here.