The Adorable Custom of ‘Telling The Bees’ | The Epic History

The bee friend, a painting by Hans Thoma (1839–1924)

There was a time when almost every rural British family who had beekeepers followed a strange tradition. Whenever there was a death in the family, one had to go out for the hives and the bees had to report about the terrible loss that caused the family to suffer. Failure to do so often leads to further loss such as the release of honey bees, or production of enough honey or even death. Traditionally, bees were not only informed about all important family matters including deaths, but also long absence due to birth, marriage and travel. If bees were not told, then all kinds of disasters were thought of. This strange nature is known as "telling the bees".

Humans have always had a special relationship with bees. In medieval Europe, bees were highly prized for their honey and wax. The honey was used as a food, which is the oldest fermented beverage in the world - and in the form of medicine for the treatment of burns, coughs, indigestion and other diseases - to make Mead. Candles made of wax are clean and clean for more wax than other wax candles. Bees were often kept in monasteries and manor houses, where they were given the highest respect and were considered as part of the family or community. It was considered rude, for example, quarreling in front of bees.

The practice of telling the bees can be originated in Celtic mythology, which was the link between the bees and the world of the soul of bees. So if you have a message that you want to pass to someone who has died, all you have to do is tell the bees and they will pass through the message. Be informed that bees were widely reported from England, and from many places throughout Europe. Eventually, the tradition made its way into the Atlantic and North America.

The specific way of telling the bees was for the head of the house, or to go out for the "goodwill of the house" hives, knock down slowly to attract the attention of bees, and then gradually murmur about a serious news. Smaller verses developed in centuries in a particular area. In Nottinghamshire, the deceased's wife was heard singing silently in front of the hive - "The death of the master, but you do not go; Your mistress will be a good mistress for you. "In Germany, a similar couple was heard-" Little bee, our Lord is dead; Do not leave me in my crisis ".

A widow and her son are telling the death of a bee in the family. Painting by Charles Napier Hemi (1841-1917)

Let be told that the bees were common in New England. 19th-century American poet John Greenleaf Whitier described this strange custom in his 1858 poem "Listening to bees".

Before them, under the garden wall,   Forward and back,
Went drearily singing the chore-girl small,   Draping each hive with a shred of black.
Trembling, I listened: the summer sun   Had the chill of snow;
For I knew she was telling the bees of one   Gone on the journey we all must go!
And the song she was singing ever since   In my ear sounds on:—
"Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence!   Mistress Mary is dead and gone!"

In the case of deaths, the beekeeper wrapped the top of the honeycomb with a black cloth or a crepe piece. If there was a marriage in the family, the ancestors were decorated and the pieces of cake were left out so that the bee could also participate in the festival. The newly married couples introduced themselves to the bees of the house, otherwise their married life was bound to be miserable.

If the bees were not "bereaved", then the terrible misfortune family and the person who bought the hive. Victorian biologist Margaret Warner Morley cited a case of Norfolk in his book, The Honey-Makers (1899), where a man bought a bee of bees, which was the man who died. The previous owners had failed to grieve bees when their owner had died, due to which the bees became ill. When the new owner covered the hive with black cloth, the bees recovered their health. In another story, there were seventeen hives of an Oxfordshire family when their protector died. Because no one told them about the death, every bee died. There are many such stories in Morley's book. 

Telling Bees By Albert Fitch Belose About 1882

The intimate relationship between bees and their keepers has given rise to all kinds of folklore. According to one, it was unfortunate to buy or sell hives, because when you sell one, you sell your fate with your bees. Instead, bees were or were given as gifts. If the bees fly in a house, then a stranger will call soon. If they rest on a terrace, then good luck was on its way.

But the relationship between bees and humans is beyond superstition. It is a fact that bees help humans to survive. 70 of the top 100 crop species, 90% of the human population depends on bees for pollination. Without them, these plants will not exist and along with all the animals that eat those plants. This will be a cascading effect which will frighten the food chain horrific. Losing a bee hive is much more than losing the honey supply. The consequences are a threat to life. The task of telling the bees reflects this deep relationship, which people share with insects.

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