Humans have worshipped the bee and given it pride of place in our pantheons of gods and goddesses, in popular songs, sayings, artworks and products. Bees are hard not to love, for everything they do to bring life to the world. Especially true these days with our rare and wee friends dying off at alarming rates because of pesticides and pollutants and invasive species, it’s hard not to feel sad about the precious bee, the life giver to other plants and animals.
“Busy as a bee” is a phrase we’ve all heard, but bees are more than simply hard working. Bees literally create life and allow seasonal flowering of countless plants, trees and even crops. Bees are also amazing communicators, using scent and their own bodies to signal very specific things to keep the pollen coming to the hive day after day. Bees even help the Trappist monks stay in the mead, which as any Trappist monk might tell you, is a tremendously good thing.
The bee has been a profound symbol of healing power and life since ancient times. From Wikipedia:
“According to Greek mythology, perhaps reflecting Minoan culture, making her the daughter of a Cretan king Melisseus, whose -issos ending is Pre-Greek, Melissa was a nymph who discovered and taught the use of honey and from whom bees were believed to have received their name. She was one of the nymph nurses of Zeus, sister to Amaltheia, but rather than feeding the baby milk, Melissa, appropriately for her name, fed him honey. Or, alternatively, the bees brought honey straight to his mouth. Because of her, Melissa became the name of all the nymphs who cared for the patriarch god as a baby.”
Bees have been associated with the gods and goddesses across cultures, from the Mayans to Hindu mythology to the Greeks and Romans. One of the Mayan gods of bees and honey was called Ah-Muzen-Cab, “The Diving God”, and is depicted flying upside down. In Egyptian mythology, “bees grew from the tears of the sun god Ra when they landed on the desert sand.” And in Hindu mythology, “the bowstring on Hindu love god Kamadeva‘s bow is made of sugarcane, covered in bees.”
Mankind has worshipped the powerful and life-giving bee for thousands of years. As far back as there are pictures and stories you will find bees bringing life to mankind from the gods, or as gods themselves.
These days, too few people think about the importance of the bee. In the power they hold over the human story. In the way we see ourselves and our world in the small and mighty bee. It’s been this way for thousands of years. Our best qualities we see in the bee, industriousness, reliability, teamwork, working daily to provide for the winter, spreading the seeds that makes success, and the world, possible.
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