Telling The Bees ~ Den Bienen Erzählen

Discussion in 'Ancient, Indigenous, & Tribal Calendars' started by CULCULCAN, Nov 13, 2020.


    CULCULCAN The Final Synthesis - isbn 978-0-9939480-0-8 Staff Member

    Art: The Bee Friend / DER BIENENFREUND
    a painting by Hans Thoma (1839–1924)

    There was a time when almost every rural family
    who kept bees followed a strange tradition.

    Whenever there was a death in the family,
    someone had to go out to the hives
    and tell the bees of the terrible loss
    that had befallen the family.

    Failing to do so often resulted in further losses
    such as the bees leaving the hive,
    or not producing enough honey or even dying.

    Traditionally, the bees were kept abreast
    of not only deaths but all important family matters
    including births, marriages,
    and long absence due to journeys.

    If the bees were not told,
    all sorts of calamities were thought to happen.

    This peculiar custom is known as “telling the bees”.

    The practice of telling the bees
    may have its origins in Celtic mythology
    that held that bees were the link
    Between our world and the spirit world.

    So if you had any message that you wished
    to pass to someone who was dead,
    all you had to do was tell the bees
    and they would pass along the message.

    The typical way to tell the bees
    was for the head of the household,
    or “goodwife of the house”
    to go out to the hives,
    knock gently to get the attention of the bees,
    and then softly murmur in a doleful tune the solemn news.

    Little rhymes developed over the centuries
    specific to a particular region.

    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.”

    In Germany, a similar couplet was heard,
    “Little bee, our lord is dead;
    Leave me not in my distress”.

    But the relationship between bees and humans
    goes beyond superstition.

    It’s a fact, that bees help humans survive.

    70 of the top 100 crop species that feed 90%
    of the human population rely on bees for pollination.

    Without them, these plants would cease
    to exist and with it all animals that eat those plants.

    This can have a cascading effect that would ripple
    catastrophically up the food chain.

    Losing a beehive is much worse than losing a supply of honey.

    The consequences are life threatening.

    The act of telling the bees emphasizes
    this deep connection humans share with the insect.

    Art: The Bee Friend,
    a painting by Hans Thoma (1839–1924)

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