Bees figure largely in folklore although these days people are mostly uninterested in the old stories of how bees are an important part of our society.
The Egyptian Sun God Ra was supposed to create bees and humans from his tears.
In the Scottish Highlands you could go and ask the bees what the Druids knew because the bees knew everything.
Country folk had a deep respect for bees, recognising that without them there would be no life as no flower would be pollinated to create seed for life to continue.
The respect for bees continued for thousands of years, and as recently as the death of George V1 of England it was reported that beekeepers went, scarf on head for respect to inform the bees of his death.
Because Telling the Bees was the most important act of all.
I started keeping bees about 25 years ago and knew nothing about it, but that didn’t halt my enthusiasm.
Shortly thereafter I read in an old folklore book about Telling the Bees.This means that you must tell the bees the significant events, births deaths and marriages that occur within the family or suffer a consequence when the bees become hurt by neglect.
I didn’t take it seriously, but remember very well when on returning from my mother’s funeral I found my bees had swarmed and the hives were empty.
A friend gave me more bees,( You must not buy them according to folklore),and I set up the hives again, and this time the father of another friend came to rob the hives for me.
We continued this practice for some years because he had excellent equipment for robbing the hives and we traded wax and honey and queens with each other.
Then he became ill and over a period of a few months his health deteriorated and he died.I was very shocked at his death and busied myself with my friend preparing for his funeral.
A day after the funeral I found my hives empty again, the bees had swarmed.
The husband of another friend came to help and he became my bee-partner for a couple of years and then died suddenly in his sleep.
I had now read that as well as informing bees of deaths and births in the family, the beekeeper was also very important to them and they would be devastated if they did not hear of his death.
I decided I would tell them but time got away from me and a couple of days after the funeral I found all my bees in a swarm on the fence post.I lost them.
By now I was convinced that there there is a definite connection between everything that is alive on this earth and we must treat the bees with the respect they deserve as the bringers of life.
But what happened next convinced me like nothing else ever could.
A dear friend lost her 3yr old son very suddenly from a deadly virus and the family was distraught, specially the 5yr old sister of the little boy.
It was a tragic funeral with people weeping and the coffin covered with flowers,the family of the child stunned with grief.
Suddenly as the service was coming to an end a bee flew into the church.It flew to the coffin placed in full view of the mourners in the church.
For a couple of minutes it buzzed around the flowers, and the mourners, one by one, focused their attention on it.
Everyone watched as the bee made larger circles and then slowly, very slowly, flew over to the bereaved family.
It circled the heads of the three family members and hovered for a couple of seconds over the young girl’s head.
She looked up at it unafraid and it flew to about a foot beyond her face and hovered again.
She watched it happen as if hypnotised.The bee then flew out of the church.
Some cultures in olden days said that bees were a young person’s soul and they flew from the mouth of the deceased upon his death.
All cultures treated them with respect and awe and in some cases worshipped them.
I know I love bees and miss them now I no longer live in the country.
One wonders though what JK Rowling was thinking when she named the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Dumbledore.
Dumbledore is an old English name for a bee.