Bee Symbol

According to research by Hans Biedermann, the bee stands out as a particularly deified insect – a symbol of diligence, royalty, nobility, noble values. There is information from ancient times how people collected honey from wild bees, and a little later they understood how to tame them and produce honey for consumption. Honey was used for the preparation of medicines, fermentation, and their wax was used for making candles. In ancient Egypt, where beekeeping has been documented since about 2600 BC, evidence shows that honey was also used in the mummification process. (Article on mummies and mummification here)

Symbolism of the Bee can be found in many cultures and all are of diligence, royalty, nobility, noble values. In Christianity the bee symbolizes Christ’s goodness, in Heraldry it is a symbol of nobility, in all of Europe was concieved as like “Bee Road” of the dead, in America the mayans saw in the bee the god Ah Musen Cab, in Chinese folklore the bee is a symbol of fertility, the Indian gods Vishnu, Krishna and Indra were associated with the bee. Also, the ancient egyptian saw the bee as the product of the tears of Ra.

Christianity

St. John Chrysostom and St. Ambrose were compared, for their sermons, to the sweetness of honey. In Christianity it is seen that the symbolism of honey is a symbolism of Christ’s goodness in combination with Christ’s crown (the Last Judgment). The bee is also a symbol of the Virgin Mary, as the bees did not produce offspring themselves, but collected flowers.

St. Ambrose compared the church to the hive, and the servants of God to the indefatigable industrious bees who gathered grace and shunned sin. Biedermann mentions Bernard de Clervaux, for whom the bee was the personification of the Holy Spirit, and the symbol of purity was in the bee, which fed only on the aroma of flowers, avoiding the sinful world. There is a hypothesis that the inspiration for the French coat of arms of lilies is the stylized bee.

In the medieval books there is the notation “the elegance of honeycombs, symmetrical hexagons of the cells, which the bees surround with hard wax and fill with honey”. It is used for eating, medicine for wounds, as well as the symbolism of “wisdom and love of virtues.”

“Bees diligently collect juice from flowers,
That’s why the wax house is full of honey.
Where harmony unites one’s hearts,
There fruit and benefit are born everywhere. “

Hoberg, 1675

Heraldry

Left: one remaining bee from Napoleon’s coronation robes, gilt wire, 1804. Source: private collection. 
Upper right: detail, Empress Josephine’s Coronation Shoes France, 1804. Source: Les Arts Décoratif, Inventory 15110.
Lower right: Imperial Bee from coronation decorations in Notre-Dame de Paris, 1804, gilt bronze. Source: Musée de l’Armée, Dist. RMN. Photo: Pascal Segrette

You can see the coat of arms of the Bonaparte family – the bee as a symbol is present meaning order, belonging, royalty, nobility. There is a comparison that Upper Egypt was the reed, while Lower Egypt was the bee.

Europe

The German inventories mention the “Bee Road” – wandering dead souls that are like a swarm of bees. In this sense, the soul is just like a bee flying away before death. This is where the “Mary or the Bird of God” comes from, which signifies this flight of the soul.

In Norse myths we find the myth of the poet Kvasir, who was a deity created by all other deities and then killed by his blood, the dwarves made a mead of wisdom. Dwarves, giants, and even Odin wanted mead for themselves, and later in the myth, with the help of mead, the god Bragi was born, who was elevated to the deity of poetry, and his speech was as skilful as honey. (The myth of Kvasir here)

In the Mediterranean, bees are compared to the qualities of courage, chastity, diligence, purity, well-off, family, artistic sense. The Eleusinian mysteries present their priests as bees and were revered as a symbol of the resurrection – because of the bee’s hibernation (death) and their spring awakening (resurrection).

In the mouth of a dead man, if a bee flew in, he would come to life.

America

The god of Mayan mythology, the patron saint of bees and honey, Ah Musen Cab, was described with the body and wings of a bee, a humanoid face. According to another description, it is a huge bee or spirit that protects forests and bees from criminals. He is thought to be the same figure as the “Descending / Diving God”, so he is consistently depicted upside down. The Temple of the Descending God is located in Tulum.

Africa

The legend of Kintu (the Baganda people, Uganda), the first man on earth, had to pass five trials if he wanted to marry the daughter of the deity Ggulu – Nambi. The last test was to recognize Ggulu’s cow from a large number of cattle, and then Nambi, in the incarnation of a bee, came to his aid and whispered in his ear who the cow was.

Asia

China – the word for bee was “fen”, which had the sound of the title of count, the bee was a symbol of ascent in the hierarchy of power. In Chinese fairy tales, the bee is a symbol of fertility and can be seen as “the young lover trying the maiden flowers.” Chinese and European tales are similar in that bees guide and find the most suitable bride.

India – collecting honey brings money and remains a symbol of wealth. In the Rig-Veda, which is the oldest sacred book in India (compiled between the 2-3rd millennium BC), it repeatedly mentions bees as a good omen, a positive symbol and its work as a result – honey (madhu) and mead.

The gods Vishnu, Krishna and Indra were called Madhava (“born with nectar”), and their symbol was the bee. Vishnu is represented as a blue bee (blue is a symbol of Heaven – the deities coming from Heaven/the sky), on a lotus flower – a symbol of life, resurrection, nature; and where Vishnu steps, a spring of mead appears. Krishna is depicted with a blue bee on his forehead, and the god Siva (the Destroyer) has another form called Madheri depicted by an inverted triangle with a bee on top.

The Hindu goddess Bhrami (literally means “Bees”) is a goddess who “resides in the heart chakra” and the vibration of love from her resembles the buzzing of many bees. It is this sound (similar to the purring of cats) that is considered the “sound of the Universe” and is used in mantras and meditations in Hindu and Buddhist practice.

Among the Hindu gods we meet another interesting character, the god of love Kama, whose symbol is the bee, or more precisely: a bow whose string is made of bees. Another symbol with bees is that of the Madhukasa whip, which means “sweet whip,” from which drips honey used by the Ashwini (Lord of Light) twin horsemen. With this whip they even prolong people’s lives and there is a dedicated anthem written especially for him:

“When the copper lash came, giving gifts, there life breathes and there immortality is established. As long as the bees carry honey on honey, so in my man, oh, Ashvini, the luster will be preserved. Oh, Ashvini, lords of Brightness, anoint me with honey to speak a strong speech among the people.”

In the last verse, the belief that honey makes speech “sweeter” is also found outside of ancient India, such as the aforementioned myth of the poets Kvasir and Bragi. In European myths, bees are called “the birds of the muses,” and like Kvasir and Bragi, the poet Kakhsivat is sung to by honey dripping from the copper vat of the Ashvins.

Antiquity

Priestesses who worshiped the goddess Artemis and the goddess Demeter were called “bees” in antiquity. Mycenaean tombs were shaped like beehives, and the Delphic priestess was often referred to as a bee, and Pindar notes that it remained as the “Delphic bee,” long after Apollo usurped the ancient oracle and shrine. Linguist and classical scientist Jane Ellen Harrison adds:

 “The Delphic priestess has historically chewed bay leaves, but when she was a bee, she certainly sought inspiration in the honeycomb.”

Aristeas, the god of beekeeping, inadvertently caused the death of the beautiful Eurydice, which was followed by a snake fleeing from him. The nymphs punished Aristeas by killing all his bees. Proteus then tells the crushed god to sacrifice four bulls and four cows in honor of Eurydice to see the bees emerge from their rotting corpses, which will fill his empty hives again. And so it happened.

Ancient

Hittites / Turkey – The god of agriculture in Hittite mythology, Telipinu, furiously cursed plants and animals to keep them alive and disappeared. Then the goddess Hannahanna sent a bee to find him, stung him and watered him. Telipinu became even more angry until the goddess Kamrusepa intervened and sent his wrath to the Underworld.

Ancient Egypt – According to Egyptian mythology, bees originated from the tears of the sun god Ra when they fell on the sandy surface.

Scientific Data

Everyone knows about the hard-working bee that makes honey by collecting pollen from flowers. In fact, more than half of their bellies are filled with nectar and can carry nectar over long distances with a weight as much as their personal weight. The bee, which collects from the flowers, then transmits the nectar to the bee in the hive and enzymes from their bodies turn the nectar into honey while storing it in the hive and after about 5 days the honey is “finished”. When the process is ready, the honeycomb is sealed with wax, which is also produced by the bodies of the bees and thus preserves the honey for further use.

When a bee comes out of the hive to explore and finds flowers that will be suitable for collecting pollen, the scout returns and begins to “dance” through sudden body movements and sounds. This is a type of mapping the location of the flowers using the Sun as a reference – left, right or directly relative to it.

Of the tens of thousands in the colony, only a hundred are born male, and their main goal is to inseminate the queen, after which the drones die. And when it gets cold and there are still surviving drones, it means that they have not mated with the queen and are pushed out of the hive to certain death.

There are over 16,000 species of bees, but only honey bees species produce honey. They are found all over the world except Antarctica. The ancestor of the bee is the wasp, which feeds on other insects, and the evolution of the bee, which feeds on pollen and nectar, is thought to have come from pollen-eating insects that were prey of the wasp.

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