A saying about bees

ClareBroommaker's picture

Have you heard that if one savors hate around bees, the bees will die? Did Kipling originate this, or was/is the idea widely known?

From a 1921 childrens' book, "Windy Hill" by Cornelia Meigs:

"If I thought that were true," responded his friend gravely, "I should have to ask you never to come here again, not only because I am fond of your cousin myself, but because I value my bees. There is an old superstition that you must not hate where bees are, for they feel it and pine away and die. I cannot have my bees destroyed."

and from Rudyard Kipling's 1906 "Puck of Pook's Hill":

The Bee-Boy's Song

BEES! BEES! Hark to your bees!
"Hide from your neighbours as much as you please,
But all that has happened, to us you must tell,
Or else we will give you no honey to sell!"

A maiden in her glory,
Upon her wedding-day,
Must tell her Bees the story,
Or else they'll fly away.
Fly away - die away -
Dwindle down and leave you!
But if you don't deceive your Bees,
Your Bees will not deceive you.

Marriage, birth or buryin',
News across the seas,
All you're sad or merry in,
You must tell the Bees.
Tell 'em coming in an' out,
Where the Fanners fan,
'Cause the Bees are just about
As curious as a man!

Don't you wait where the trees are,
When the lightnings play,
Nor don't you hate where Bees are,
Or else they'll pine away.
Pine away - dwine away -

Anything to leave you!
But if you never grieve your Bees,
Your Bees'll never grieve you.

David Trammel's picture

The more I garden, the more I experience Nature and the more I volunteer at the pet shelter here, the more I have come to believe we are all interconnected at a level that few people understand. It wouldn't surprise me if communal insects like bees could pick up on the emotions of people around them. I know that cats can tell if you are unhappy when you come near them, and can tell if you are happy too.

“Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.”
― Werner Heisenberg (physicist and cat lover (lol))

Copper's picture

Bees can absolutely pick up on human emotions via how our scent changes much like how they can pick up on what the queen and the rest of the hive feels based on the pheromones they put out and how they move. Stressed beekeepers mean stressed bees. Cool calm beekeepers mean calm bees.

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Blueberry's picture

A honey bee can only sting you once, when they try to remove the stinger the barbs on the stinger stick to your skin and the bee ends up pulling out there guts and dies. Some people just piss the ladies off no matter how much they smoke them. Never wear blue jeans around bees something about the blue dye. One of many good books https://www.amazon.com/Abc-Xyz-Bee-Culture-Honey-Plants/dp/1375782711/re... Check the local library!!!

ClareBroommaker's picture

Yesterday (Feb 13) I found out that it was the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Modomnoc who is a patron saint of beekeepers. That led me to encounter a poem by an American, John Greenleaf Whittier. His poem, "Telling the Bees" describes a man returning to the farm where his beloved Mary lives with her grandfather after a month's absence. As he approaches the house he sees a farmhand, a little girl, setting black pieces (of fabric?) on the hives along the garden wall. There is family news the bees must be told.

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!"

And here are 12 pages of stories about bees and how they interact meaningfully with humans. https://www.ucd.ie/pages/99/articles/chaomh.pdf

Very interesting. I have never heard of those stories. Cool.

ClareBroommaker's picture

We bought this city vacant lot in December and were laying out a planting grid when the neighbors three doors away on the corner came to see what we were doing. We'd already noticed their beehive and told them they could put a hive on our lot. They immediately accepted the offer, telling us that they were expecting the arrival of a new hive box on Saturday and had not yet figured out where to put it. They also need to split their existing hive. The arrangement is beneficial for all of us.

On our other vacant lot, soon to be mini orchard, we intend to ask a different beekeeper if she'd like to set up a hive. We'd previously made an arrangement with her, only to have to the leased land sold out from under us the very next day. So it will be good to be able to make the hive placement offer again.

I'm kind of excited. You might spy me privately talking to the bees this year. :-)

A link to another dimension of the beauty and complexity of our anthophlic friends. I have found that in keeping bees one becomes a servant and guardian in a truly mystical kingdom. Check out The Song of Increase by Jacqueline Freeman for a tour of this ethereal realm. More on our adventures in the coming days.

Copper's picture

Speaking of bees

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