In early traditions bees were believed to have originated in paradise and were known as “little servants of Gods”. In Celtic lore bees have a secret wisdom derived from the Otherworld.
It was considered bad luck to kill one.
In Wales a bee buzzing around a sleeping child means the child will have a happy life and a virgin can always walk safely through a swarm of bees.
The Romans believed a swarm of bees was bad luck and that they were divine creatures which originated directly from the gods.
According to legend the first beekeeper was Bahus (god of wine), who domesticated them during his travels in Frakia.
Jupiter was said to have been fed and protected by bees when he was hidden in a grotto by his mother Rea, on Ida Mountain.
Bees are symbolic of sexuality, chastity, fertility, purity and care. They are also considered to be an image of a human soul due to their natural ability to find their way home from great distances.
In ancient times it was believed that bees were attracted to the sounds of clanging metal and thus bees were associated with the love of music.
The Hindu gods Vishnu, Krishna and Indra were referred to as “nectar born ones” (Madhava) and were often represented as bees perched on a lotus flower.
The Egyptian sun god Re was believed to have created bees and humans from his tears. Burying the nobility in honey was a common practice in Eygpt as a form of embalming the dead. The Eygptians also placed bees and honey in tombs as offerings to spirits of the dead.
Mead or honey wine is one of the oldest alcolholic beverages in the world and was drunk in countries such as Ireland, Ethiopia, India, Germany and Greece. Because mead was believed to be the drink of immortality, bees were legally protected in Ireland.
A long believed myth about bees is that they do not sting at night, which in fact is incorrect ,they will sting at anytime for protection.
Bees, supposedly being capable of “virgin births” , became symbolic of the Virgin Mary.
St Ambrose of Milan is the patron saint of beekeepers and it was said that as a child, his father found the sleeping boy covered in a swarm of bees.