Bees are considered extremely auspicious throughout the world. They have played an important part in symbolism since Ancient times.
The list of virtues of the bee is very long. They have been considered to be messengers carrying news to the spirit world in many cultures.
Bees represent wisdom and immortality.
Bees symbolize love and also fidelity and virginity. They represent industry.
Bees were believed to have knowledge of the future and secret matters.
Bees as a Wealth Symbol
Bees are bringers of good luck and prosperity. Charms in the shape of a honey bee are especially good for attracting wealth. The same goes for coins with a honey bee symbol. If they are gold they are even more powerful. These charms and coins obviously are lucky for success in business.
Bees are magnificent as far as productivity and industry is concerned. They produce beeswax and honey which are golden. Gold and the golden color have always been related to wealth. They certainly know how to sting to protect their wealth.
If a bee lands on your hand, you are very lucky indeed! Sit quietly and don’t frighten the bee. A bee on your hand is a sure sign that money is on its way to you!
If a bee lands on you head, you can expect to be congratulated. You are going to have great success!
Similarly if a bee flies into your home it is considered very good luck. Success is on its way.
Just remember to leave a window open so that the bee can fly out again after showering you with good fortune. If you try to force the bee out your luck will vanish.
Never ever quarrel in the presence of bees, nor should you use any foul language near the beehives. It is bad luck and the bees may leave the beehive. Anyone who uses bad language around bees is sure to be stung.
You should always inform the bees about all important events such as weddings, births or if someone in the household has died. If they are not told the bees will get angry and start stinging all of you.
The spiritual bond between the bees and the beekeepers has been considered very strong.
If the master of the beehive dies it is very important to immediately inform the bees and tie a black ribbon on the hive as a sign of mourning. The bees also need to be informed about who their new master is.
The Bee in Ancient Egypt
In Egypt the bee was the emblem of Lower Egypt. The bee was a symbol of the giver of life; birth, death and resurrection.
It was believed the tears of Ra became the first working bees. Ra was the Sun god and Egypt’s most important deity.
Bees in the Ancient Greece
Bees were strongly connected to the nymphs in Ancient Greece. Wild bees inhabited caves and hollow tree-trunks. Those were the same places it was thought that the nymphs had taken residence.
Bees were thought of as supporters of eloquence and songs; they were sometimes called the “birds of the Muses”.
The goddess Demeter of agriculture was known as “The Pure Mother Bee”.
Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty. One of her symbols was a honeycomb.
Priestesses of goddesses were often referred to as “Melissae” meaning bees. Many believed the bees were the souls of priestesses who had served a goddess.
Melissa is a Greek name that means “Queen Bee”.
A nymph named Melissa was said to be the first to find the honeycomb. She tasted it and mixed the honey with a little water and served it as a beverage.
The nymphs of Peloponnese were also called Melissai. They were credited with teaching man to eat the fruit of the trees and stop eating human flesh. Melissa is considered the Queen Bee goddess.
Zeus and the Bees
Zeus was the main god in Greek mythology. He was the son of the Titans Cronos and Rhea. Cronos was a tyrant who devoured his children. When Zeus was born his mother handed Cronos a rock inside a blanket instead of the baby.
She hid the baby in a cave on Crete. In some stories (among them “Hymn to Zeus” by Callimachus) Zeus is kept alive by bees.
One of Zeus’s many names was “Melissaios which means “Bee-man”.
Zeus had many affaires. One affaire he had was with a beautiful nymph named Othreis. She gave birth to a boy.
Hera was the wife of Zeus. She was extremely jealous and had a bad temper. The nymph hid the baby in the woods. The baby survived by being fed honey.
A shepherd named Phagros found the baby and named him Meliteus. Meliteus became a hero and founded a town name Melita, which means Honey town.
Bees in Christianity
It was quite common to compare the Christian monastic communities with a beehive.
The bees had all the virtues that were important in a monastery; unselfishness, cleanliness, courage, sociability, wisdom, chastity, administrative skills and spirituality.
The name Deborah means “bee”. Deborah was a prophet in the Bible. She was a judge in Israel and many refer to her as the mother of Israel. Her story can be read in the Book of Judges chapter 4 and 5.
Pope Urban VIII (1568-1644) had three bees in his Coat of Arms. He golden bees were chosen because they represented loyalty and diligence.
Patron Saints of Bees and Beekeepers
Saint Ambrose (339 – 397 A.D.)– Patron Saint of Bees, Beekeepers, Candle makers and Wax Refiners
His feast day is December 7th. Ambrose was a bishop and a statesman in Italy. He was a brilliant preacher and defender of orthodox Catholicism against Arianism. He was the one who baptized Augustine in 387.
Legend has it that a swarm of bees landed on Ambrose when he was an infant. This was interpreted as a sure sign of this future articulateness and greatness.
Saint Bernhard of Clairvau (1090 – 1153) – Patron Saint of Beekeepers and Wax-Melters
His feast day is August 20th.
Saint Bernhard was a French abbot and advisor to spiritual leaders. His love of the Virgin Mary was immense. His work “On the Song of Songs” is considered a classic work. Pope Pius VIII named him “Doctor of the Church” in 1830.
He was nick-named “Doctor Mellifluous” because he was considered an excellent speaker. One may wonder why he is patron saint of beekeepers as he never worked with bees.
The reason is simple. During the Middle Ages bees were the ultimate symbol of eloquence. Saint Bernard also claimed the bee to be symbol of the Holy Ghost.
Saint Valentine (176-273) Patron Saint of Beekeepers
Saint Valentine is widely recognized as the patron saint of love, engaged couples and happy marriages. His feat day is as we all know February 14th.
He is also patron saint against fainting, the plague, epilepsy and beekeepers. Being named patron saint of beekeepers tells us loads about his influential speaking.
Bees symbolize eloquence.
In Judges Chapter 14 you will find the story of Samson and his riddle.
The riddle goes like this:
“Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet” Judges 14:14
Samson had enormous strength. He had an encounter with a roaring lion when he was on his way to propose to a Philistine woman in Timnah. He killed the lion with his bare hands and ripped the animal open.
Later when he was going to his wedding party Samson saw the remains of the lion. He observed that bees had nested in the carcass and made honey. He ate some of the honey.
At the wedding party he told the riddle to the thirty groomsmen who were all Philistines. If they could solve it within seven days, he would give them thirty pieces of fine linen and garments, but if they could not solve it; they would give him thirty pieces of fine linen and garments.
Samson was very confident they would not be able to solve the riddle because he never had told anyone about the lion.
The groomsmen got desperate and secretly threatened his bride. They told her they would burn her and her father’s house if she did not provide the answer to the riddle.
She did manage to get Samson to reveal the answer which she passed on to the Philistines. On the seventh day they came with the answer: “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?” Judges 14:18