“Telling the bees” is a tradition in many European countries, and while they may vary a little, the tradition involves informing the bees about significant life changes, like deaths, births, and marriages. Starting in the mid-1800s, many families followed the strange tradition of telling the bees. They believed that bees were the link between the physical and spiritual worlds, and negative things would occur if they didn’t inform the bees of significant events, such as deaths and marriages. Dive deeper into the interesting tradition of “telling the bees.”
Relationship Between Bees and Humans
Although the relationship between bees and their keepers has led to plenty of folklore, the link goes beyond superstition. In fact, humans rely on bees to pollinate a majority of the most popular crops. Without bees, there would be a catastrophic domino effect of extinction up the food chain.
The consequences of losing a beehive are much deeper than a lack of honey; they may be life-threatening (but there are ways to save a failing beehive). The belief in “telling the bees” further emphasizes the deep connection between humans and this particular insect and is one of the many reasons to become a beekeeper.
“Telling the Bees”
The interesting tradition of “telling the bees” may originate in Celtic mythology. There were reports of the practice all across Europe before eventually traveling across the Atlantic to North America.
Beekeepers were to inform the bees of any marriage in the family, and they even gave some wedding cake to the bees. Sometimes they even decorated the beehives with flowers to celebrate the new union and bring good luck to the couple. The newlyweds had to introduce themselves to the colony, or else their marriage was destined for unhappiness.
Someone had to inform the bees whenever there was a death in the family. They would go out to the hive, knock to get the bees’ attention, and speak or sing softly of the solemn news. It was also common for beekeepers to put black fabric on the hive as a sign of mourning. The Celtic custom of telling the bees has another twist—they believed the departed person’s soul would manifest as a bee.
Failing to put the bees into mourning following a death often resulted in reduced honey production, bees leaving the hive, or bees dying.
While this practice seems trivial to many, there are several documented cases of misfortune for families who didn’t adhere to the tradition.
If you’re interested in beekeeping, The B Farm has a great selection of honey bee nucs for sale. Then, consider telling your new bee colony of all the significant events you and your family experience for a touch of good luck. Learn more about beginning your own beehive by exploring our other blogs.