The Incredible Honey Bee…A Mythical Creature
Egyptian legend has it that the honey bee was part of the creation story. Ra the sun god cried tears of honey. When those tears hit the ground they became honey bees. These bees formed the first hives. Honey is considered fit only for those that were of royalty because it was originally formed by the supreme god.
Certain legends relate that when one sees a honey bee fly it is the fleeting of a soul of a human who has just died. If you have ever seen the Christmas Classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart the angel Clarence explains to him that every time you hear a bell sound an angel “gets his wings”. Similarly, If you die in the presence of a honey bee it will carry your soul. Another depiction of this is in the recently popular TV show “The Ghost Whisperer.” In the opening credits you can see a bee flying to a lady whose dress is made of bees. This first bee lands as part of the dress and another takes off signifying the departure of the soul.
Honey bees were symbolic of royalty and god-like. Several gods, Vishnu, Pan, Aphrodite, are depicted as honey bees on a flower. There were actual royal bee keepers whose only existence was to provide the royalty with honey. Napoleon made sure honey bees were part of his coronation robes and was also found in some of his tapestries. Pharaohs also used the honey bee as a symbol of royalty in official seals and jewelry. In the tomb of Childeric I three hundred golden honey bees were found.
Bees were thought to be a link between life and the afterlife. One Greek myth tells how the bee carried the doomed soul to Hades in the underworld. Honey was used for embalming and has been found covering the dead. Honey was found in the tomb of King Tut in a food jar. A tradition of the hill people in the American Appalachian region was to go tell the bees when someone had died in the family so the bees could spread the news.
One legend tells of how the patron saint of beekeepers is St. Ambrose as supposedly found by his father covered with honey bees as a baby. Later in life he would be referred to as the Honey Tongued Doctor because of his sweet preaching and speech. This goes along with the belief that if a bee lands on the lips of a child that they will become a great speaker.
Bees have long been symbolic as the perfect society. Many societies use the honey bee as basis for a monarchy. One ruler with many subjects working in harmony and in unison. It would seem that the honey bee herself is oblivious to all the attention given her over the centuries and she just keeps on doing what God designed her for…the preservation of the hive and a producer of that “Sweet Insect Syrup” known as honey.