Bee Superstitions

bee superstitions

Weather Predictions by Bees

Bees have long been regarded as nature’s prophets, providing insights into weather patterns through their behavior. A prevalent belief suggests that the flight patterns of bees can offer clues about upcoming weather conditions. According to an ancient proverb, “When bees to distance wing their flight, days are warm and skies are bright; But when their flight ends near their home, stormy weather is sure to come.”

Another weather-related superstition states that the presence or absence of bees from their hives can indicate the likelihood of rain. The saying goes, “If bees stay at home, rain will soon come. If they fly away, fine will be the day.” These proverbs reflect a deep connection between these tiny creatures and the natural elements, with people closely observing their movements for predictive insights.

Bee Encounters: Signs and Omens

Entering Your Home

Encountering a bee within the confines of your home is believed to carry significant omens. The presence of a bee is considered a sign that a visitor will soon arrive. However, the interpretation of this omen hinges on the actions taken. If the bee is allowed to stay or exits the premises of its own accord, it signifies good luck. Killing the bee is thought to bring bad luck or forewarn of an unpleasant visitor.

Swarming Bees

A particularly ominous superstition warns that a swarm of bees settling on a roof is an omen that the house will burn down. This belief likely stems from historical incidents where bees nesting on thatched roofs posed fire risks. The fear associated with such swarms reflects a deep-seated concern for the safety of the household. Others believed If they rested on a roof, good luck was on its way.

Swarming bees were a cause for attentiveness. If they clustered around a dead branch, a human death was imminent. If they flew into a house, a stranger would soon call. If there was discord within the resident human community, the bees would stop producing honey, die, or fly away.

Giving Away a Hive

In the realm of beekeeping, there is some contradiction about whether you should give away or sell a hive. Some consider it bad luck to give away a hive. The prevailing belief is that bees must be sold for a fair price commensurate with their worth. This superstition underscores the value placed on these industrious insects and the importance of equitable exchanges.

Others feel you invite bad luck if money changes hands when procuring a hive because of the intimate and sacred relationship between bees and their keepers. Bees should be bartered for or given as gifts.

An old country tradition states that bees should not be purchased for money, as bought bees will never prosper. It is acceptable to barter goods of the same value in exchange for bees, and in some districts gold was an acceptable form of payment. A borrowed swarm or one given freely is more likely to do well; a stock of bees was often started from a borrowed swarm on the understanding that it would be returned if the giver was ever in need of it.

Moving Bees

Moving bees from one location to another is a task laden with superstition. According to tradition, bees should never be relocated without informing them beforehand. This belief emphasizes a sense of respect for the creatures and a recognition of their connection to their environment.

Lazy Bees and Disaster

There exists a belief that disaster looms when bees exhibit signs of laziness. The notion that the industriousness of bees correlates with the well-being of their keepers underscores the interconnectedness perceived between these insects and human fortunes.

Bee Behavior and Human Life: Symbolism and Wisdom

Bee Landing on Someone’s Hand or Head

The landing of a bee on someone’s hand is believed to foretell an influx of money. Moreover, if a bee settles on someone’s head, it is seen as a sign that the person will rise to greatness. These positive omens further reflect the intricate relationship between bees and human destiny.

Bee-Stings and Folk Medicine

In folk medicine, bee-stings were once thought to prevent rheumatism. Additionally, in some locales, a bee-sting was believed to cure rheumatism. These beliefs highlight the historical intertwining of bee-related practices with health and well-being.

Bee Intelligence and Moral Judgments

Historically, bees were considered wise and even holy insects, possessing foreknowledge and knowledge of secret matters. They were divine messengers, and their constant humming was believed to be a hymn of praise. Due to their esteemed status, it is still considered unlucky in some places to kill a bee.

There is believed to be a very strong link between bees and their keepers; bees cannot prosper in an atmosphere of anger or hatred, and will either pine away and die, or fly away.

They were once considered to deliberately sting those who swore in front of them, and also to attack an adulterer or unchaste person.

Virginity and Bees

A curious belief suggests that bees can discern a girl’s purity. It was once held to be a sure sign that a girl was a virgin if she could walk through a swarm of bees without being stung.

Additionally, a girl with a family hive who is about to be married should inform the bees of her impending union. By whispering to the hive, she seeks their blessing for a long and happy marriage.

She must go to the hive and whisper quietly, ‘Little Brownies, little Brownies, your mistress is to be wed.’ If she wants to make doubly sure of their blessing, she will leave a piece of wedding cake outside the hive for their enjoyment.

The Cultural Significance of Bees

Bees have held a special place in various cultures throughout history, particularly in Medieval Europe. Beyond their practical contributions of honey and wax, bees were considered wise beings with a special intelligence regarding the mysterious unfolding of the universe. In this context, swarming bees were seen as omens, with their behavior interpreted to predict events such as human deaths, stranger visits, and strokes of good luck.

The relationship between beekeepers and their bees was considered sacred. The tradition of “telling the bees” was closely adhered to where bees were informed of significant events in their keepers’ lives, including long journeys, births, marriages, and deaths.

Bees would also be “put into mourning” after being informed of a death. From England to Germany, bees were put into mourning and the hives were draped with black crepe fabric. A piece of the funeral bread would be left nearby, while gently singing to the bees to tell them what had happened. If not, it was believed they might fail to thrive or leave their hives. These doleful little rhymes were recorded and eventually made their way to the United States.

The superstitions surrounding bees not only reflect the practical concerns of beekeepers but also highlight the intricate and symbolic connections woven between these industrious insects and human life.

Telling the Bees
Here is the place; right over the hill
Runs the path I took;
You can see the gap in the old wall still,
And the stepping-stones in the shallow brook.

There is the house, with the gate red-barred,
And the poplars tall;
And the barn’s brown length, and the cattle-yard,
And the white horns tossing above the wall.

There are the beehives ranged in the sun;
And down by the brink
Of the brook are her poor flowers, weed-o’errun,
Pansy and daffodil, rose and pink.

A year has gone, as the tortoise goes,
Heavy and slow;
And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows,
And the same brook sings of a year ago.

There ’s the same sweet clover-smell in the breeze;
And the June sun warm
Tangles his wings of fire in the trees,
Setting, as then, over Fernside farm.

I mind me how with a lover’s care
From my Sunday coat
I brushed off the burrs, and smoothed my hair,
And cooled at the brookside my brow and throat.

Since we parted, a month had passed,—
To love, a year;
Down through the beeches I looked at last
On the little red gate and the well-sweep near.

I can see it all now,—the slantwise rain
Of light through the leaves,
The sundown’s blaze on her window-pane,
The bloom of her roses under the eaves.

Just the same as a month before,—
The house and the trees,
The barn’s brown gable, the vine by the door,—
Nothing changed but the hives of 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!

Then I said to myself, “My Mary weeps
For the dead to-day:
Haply her blind old grandsire sleeps
The fret and the pain of his age away.”

But her dog whined low; on the doorway sill,
With his cane to his chin,
The old man sat; and the chore-girl still
Sung to the bees stealing out and in.

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!”

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