Saturday, 2 January 2021

Bee Folklore and Customs

A beautiful painted white beehive next to green shubbery

There is an abundance of folklore surrounding bees. Charms with bees in were hung in the best room of the house to bring health, happiness and good fortune to the home. It was said that if bees flew into a house, a stranger would soon call. If they rested on a roof, good luck was on its way.

Bees appeared in Mycenaean tomb decorations, with some tombs shaped like beehives, speculating the view that bees may have been seen as psychopomps or messengers of the dead, or even that the human soul transmuted into bee form after death.

Once upon a time almost every British family who kept bees had a custom called “telling the bees.” The bees were kept abreast of all important family matters; births, marriages, important journeys, absences, but especially deaths.

Usually the “goodwife” of the household would go to the hives, and knock gently to get the bees’ attention. She would then gently and solemnly tell the bees the news. In Nottinghamshire, the wife of the dead was heard singing quietly in front of the hive—“The master's dead, but don't you go; Your mistress will be a good mistress to you.”

Failure to update the bees brought a fear of catastrophe. Failing to put the bees in to mourning meant all sorts of calamities might ensue; the bees might leave the hive, or not produce enough honey, or even die.

In my county, whenever there was a death the top of the hive was wrapped with a piece of black fabric or crepe by the beekeeper, otherwise it was feared that the bees would not thrive. Whenever there was a wedding the hives were decorated and pieces of cake were left out so that the bees could share in the festivities.

🐝🐝 Bee Correspondences 🐝🐝
Fertility, joy, feminine power, teamwork, growth, competent leadership, hard work, obedience, industriousness, prophecy, the sweetness of life.

© Original content; repost with clear, written credits. @the_cemetery_witch

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