In this six-part series of articles we will take a journey through time looking at the significance of bees throughout history from different perspectives.
We’ll start by looking at the origins of bees by exploring our scientific understanding of when bees first emerged in history and how they have changed over time. In particular, we’ll see how certain species became extinct due to climatic changes leading to the emergence of the modern day western honey bee, Apis mellifera.
The impact of bees in mythology and folklore will be explored in the second article. From early civilisations we’ll learn about the evidence of honey hunting skills from rock art in Spain, India and Africa. We will also look at different mythological representations of the bee.
In the next two articles we’ll explore the fascinating roles of bees in Ancient Egypt, as well as Greek and Roman history.
Bees played an incredibly important role in Egyptian history not only being kept at home (with written beekeeping activity in existence from as early as 2422BC) but also having a major symbolic role. We’ll see how bees were kept in upturned straw baskets, the discovery of golden bees in the tomb of Childeric, and how, even after 5000 years honey in tombs is still edible!
In Greek History, we will discover the role of Aristaeus who was the patron god of beekeeping as well as hunting and husbandry. We’ll also find out about Aristotle’s observations about bees. Then we’ll learn about beekeeping and the qualities of bees as mentioned by Roman writers such as Vergil (Publius Vergilius Maro was an ancient Roman poet).
In the fifth article we’ll look at role of bees in different religions. In particular, we’ll focus on scriptural references from the monotheistic faiths of Judaisim, Christianity, and Islam. We’ll look at the numerous mentions of bees and honey in the Bible such as ‘My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the dripping of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste’ Proverbs 24:13 (English Standard Version). We’ll discover that the Quran, the holy book of Muslims, an entire chapter is called ‘The Bee’ which mentions that ‘… your Lord inspired the bee, saying ‘Build yourselves houses in the mountains and trees and what people construct. Then feed on all kinds of fruit and follow the ways made easy for you by your Lord.’ From their bellies comes a drink of different colours in which there is healing for people. There truly is a sign in this for those who think.’ The Bee 16:68. We’ll also look at the role of bees in other religions.
In the final article in the series, we’ll look at bees in the modern world. Starting from the 17th centurywith the spread of bees across the world, aided by human migration. In the 19th century we’ll learn about the invention of the smoker and moveable frames with foundation. We’ll finish in the 21st century looking at the role of bees today and our vital role in securing their future.
…download the eBook on Amazon to read the full series!