The Goddess of the Bees

The bees are busy pollinating the flowers in the garden, the orchards and the fields, and I am reminded that we are reliant on this precious insect for all our crops. Without the bee, a great many (though not all) plants and crops could not be pollinated, and would die out, affecting great swathes of eco systems and agriculture alike. The ancients understood this, and associated the bee with the Mother Goddess herself, the queen bee who rules the hive. She streams with honey, the sweetest substance in the world at the time, [1] which the Greeks believed was the food of the gods themselves.  [2] Many goddesses were associated with the bee, including Artemis, Aphrodite, Demeter, Cybele, Diana, Rhea and Aphrodite, the nymph-goddess of summer, who was served by priestesses called Melissae, or bees.

Bees and honey have been important throughout history, the only source of sweetness, and required for making beer, wine and mead, before sugar was known, as well as cakes and desserts. Bees have collected a great deal of myth and folklore. One of the most charming is the custom of telling the bees, whereby a beekeeper must keep his hives informed of important news, such as a death in the family, a wedding, or someone leaving home. If the beekeeper failed in this duty, the bees would find out about it anyways, and go into mourning and might leave their hive, stop the production of honey, or die. [3]

[1] Hilda Ransome, The Sacred Bee, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1937

[2] Hilda Ransome, The Sacred Bee, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1937

[3] Steve Roud, The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland, Penguin Books Ltd., London, 2003


Author: annafranklinblog

Anna Franklin is the High Priestess of the Hearth of Arianrhod, which runs teaching circles, a working coven, and the annual Mercian Gathering, a Pagan camp which raises money for charity. She regularly speaks at conferences, moots and workshops around the country. She is the author of many books on witchcraft and Paganism, including the popular Pagan Ways Tarot, Sacred Circle Tarot, The Fairy Ring, Herb Craft, Magical Incenses and Oils, Personal Power, A Romantic Guide to Handfasting, Familiars, The Oracle of the Goddess, Hearth Witch, The Path of the Shaman and The Hearth Witch’s Compendium. Anna’s books have been translated into nine languages.

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