“We bring Messages,
Brew Sunshine into Medicine…
Transform Blossom into Stone…
Dance ’neath candled domes…
Create Royalty from common drone…
Serve Maiden, Mother and Crone…
Yellow, as Dawn’s promise,
Inky with Wisdom beyond our years…
to the last
each of our kin!
Hover too near
our chosen site,
and suffer our daggered bite!
All Hail the Queen,
Who Sings Now?
“Many hands make light work.” John Heywood
“No bees, no honey; no work, no money.”
“All the honey a bee gathers during its lifetime doesn’t sweeten its sting.”
“When you shoot an arrow of truth, dip its point in honey.” various proverbs
“Aerodynamically the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it, so it goes on flying anyway.” Mary Kay Ash
There are around 20,000 known species of bees around the world. Belonging to the Order Hymenoptera and the Superfamily Apoidea, which includes bees and their nearest relations, wasps. Bees feed on nectar and pollen rather than insect prey like their wasp cousins, and Honey bees produce, well, honey. There are only about seven species recognized as Honey bees, and while they only represent a small fraction of this family, they will be the main focus here, primarily Apis mellifera the common or European honey bee. This honey bee is not native to the Americas, but is the most commonly known and is the main species used by commercial beekeepers.
Honey bees survive winters by staying within the colony. The queen, who is the only fertile female in the hive, begins egg laying in mid to late winter, to prepare for spring. Queens rarely leave after establishing a hive and laying larvae that reach adulthood. The queen deposits each egg in a cell prepared by the worker bees. The egg hatches into a small larva which is fed by nurse bees, and after a week of being sealed up in their cell they emerge as adults. All workers within the hive are the Queen’s infertile sisters. For the first ten days of their lives, the female worker bees clean the hive and feed the larvae. After this, they begin building comb cells. On days 16 through 20, a worker receives nectar and pollen from older workers and stores it. After the 20th day, a worker leaves the hive and spends the remainder of its life as a forager. The population of a healthy hive in mid-summer can average between 40,000 and 80,000 bees.
Both workers and queens are fed royal jelly during the first three days of the larval stage. Royal jelly is secreted from glands in the heads of young workers and fed directly to potential queens in greater supply than they could consume. Workers are switched to a diet of pollen and nectar or diluted honey, while those intended for queens will continue to receive royal jelly. This causes the larva to develop to the pupa stage more quickly, while being also larger and fully developed sexually. Queens are not raised in the typical horizontal brood cells of the honeycomb either. The typical queen cell is specially constructed, much larger, and has a vertical orientation.
However, should the workers sense that the old queen is weakening, they will produce emergency cells known as supersedure cells. These cells are made from a cell with an egg or very young larva, and protrude from the comb. At pupation the workers cap or seal the cell. As the queen finishes her larval feeding, and pupates, she moves into a head downward position, from which she will later chew her way out of the cell. Just prior to emerging from their cells, young queens can often be heard “piping.” The purpose of this sound is not yet fully understood.
Bumble bees, who also feed on nectar, have fewer individuals than honeybees in the hive, nor do they store mass amounts of honey. Bumble bee nest average around 50 bees per colony where wild honey bees can have as many as 20,000 and domestic hives used for commercial purposes can have as many as 80,000 in a single hive at it’s peak! Bees are one of the few insects that are able to control their body temperature to a certain degree. The queen and her workers can shiver their flight muscles in cold weather to warm up, to raise hive temperature, and be able to operate at lower temperatures than other insects. The bumble bees’ larger size and fuzzy coat help too.
This skill is linked to the control of body, mind and spirit, much like a Yogi master, and those with this totem often have strong links with past lives, can benefit from Yoga, and make good hypno-therapists. Female honey bees have a barbed stinger that often detaches itself when the bee pulls free, which usually results in the bee dying. However, bees can escape intact to sting again! Drone honeybees, the stinger-less males, do not forage for nectar or pollen. In some species, drones are suspected of playing a contributing role in the temperature regulation of the hive, however, the primary purpose of a drone bee is to fertilize a new queen. Multiple drones will mate with any given queen in flight, and each drone will die immediately after mating; the process of insemination requires a lethally convulsive effort. Any drones left at the end of the season are usually turned out of the hive as unnecessary.
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Muhammad Ali
“It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised; the mosquito is swatted.” Marie O’Connor
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
It takes nectar gathered from about 2 million flowers to produce one pound of honey. All bees are productive creatures, as evidenced by common phrases like “busy as a bee” and “humming like a hive”. Bees remind us that while being productive is good, sometimes slowing down and taking the time to smell the roses is the productive activity. This attitude keeps us well balanced and able to “catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”…although what a bee would do with a fly I don’t know! There are many benefits we receive from these remarkable creatures. Honey is an excellent source of vitamin b complexes, carbohydrates, and a much healthier sweetener than cane sugar. White sugar is a crystalline carbohydrate extracted from sugar cane and sugar beets. It is a non-nutritive empty calorie that actually robs the body of vitamins and minerals. Sugar is addicting and perhaps the biggest culprit of ill health in our society today as it is used in everything. I know it was certainly a bad habit for me for years!
Raw honey has been useful as an antimicrobial agent and antioxidant for centuries, and can be directly applied to open wounds! One study in India compared the wound healing effects of honey to a conventional treatment (silver sulfadiazine) in 104 first-degree burn patients. After one week of treatment, 91 percent of honey treated burns were infection free compared with only 7 percent receiving the conventional treatment. Other phytonutrients found both in honey and propolis have been shown to possess cancer-preventing and anti-tumor properties. Between four and ten tablespoons of honey a day, depending on weight, will show a significant rise in a person’s antioxidant levels. Honey is excellent for soothing sore throats, especially with lemon. Honey and Royal jelly are good for the digestive system, keep our moods regular, our skin healthy, ease allergies, and also useful as a burn treatment. Of course, the quality of the honey is only as good as the nectar from which it was made.
Bees are vital pollinators for most plants and trees. Without their many visits to and fro, our crops might never yield! It is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination, most of this accomplished by bees. This is an important thing to remember now that bees are leaving their hives and “mysteriously” abandoning us. Personally, I don’t find it that mysterious when we have lived so many generations directly out of harmony with the World around us. I see this as yet another symptom of just how badly humans have thrown off the natural balance. I believe the current theory for hive failure is the use of pesticides. For those of you who have not already read about this distressing state of affairs, you can read more by searching “hive failure” or “colony collapse disorder”.
Bees have amazing methods of communicating, the two most notable being through pheromones and movement. Workers that have found a good field of nectar will fly back to their hive and “dance” the directions to the other workers for the greater good of the hive. Queens can control the behavior of the hive by releasing pheromones for a wide variety of effects including: mating, alarm, food production and colony recognition. In all things, the hive works together to protect the Queen and the hive, as well as to produce the honey and wax necessary for a healthy hive.
Among almost all cultures, we find many customs and traditions associated with honey. Births, weddings, funerals, all the major events in a lifetime have been touched by Bees. Mead (honey wine) has for centuries been renowned as an ‘aphrodisiac’ and the word Honeymoon is derived from the ancient Viking custom of having newly-weds drink mead for a whole moon (month) in order to increase their fertility and therefore their chances of a happy and fulfilled marriage. Honey has been used to sweeten dispositions, encourage fertility, protect from illness or evil, and to increase creativity and intelligence. Archaeologists have discovered cave drawings in Africa and eastern Spain depicting ancient people harvesting honey, and surrounded unharmed by swarms. It is believed that these images were created around 7000 B.C.! We have long been mightily impressed with this tiny insect!
“Nobody will ever win the Battle of the Sexes. There’s just too much fraternizing with the enemy.” Henry Kissinger
“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” Roseanne Barr
“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.” Anaïs Nin
Bees have been associated with Divine Females for countless ages. Associated with Hera, Isis, Brigid (Bride), Athena, Freya, Demeter, Gaia, Rhea, Cybele, Mellona, Artemis…just about any Goddess of note was said to keep a special hive of bees or have some connection to this Teacher! Being ruled by a Queen does make Bees stand out a bit in the natural world. Healing, order, prosperity, creation/creativity, the storing of power, preservation of knowledge, increase of sensuality, increase of intuition, unity and united efforts are all just as strongly linked to Bees as the concept of powerful feminine energy though. They have also been associated with Shiva, Vishnu, Kama, Re, Apollo, Dionysus, and Pan.
According to ancient Egyptians, honey bees were the tears of Re, thus honey itself was seen as an excellent source of protection from evil things and a symbol of resurrection. Honey and things made from honey, like mead, were used in many ceremonies. Bhramari Devi, who manifests in sound form as a queen bee surrounded by a humming swarm of bees, teaches us to illuminate our chakras through chanting, singing, or humming. She is said to reside within the 12-petaled heart chakra which is said to help build the antibodies that protect us from disease. Bee priestesses in ancient Crete where known as the Melissae, and Melissa which translates as “honey bee” is still used as a common name for girls today. Linked to the Fates through a tale of Apollo gifting Hermes with bee-maidens who were gifted with prophecy, bees are often seen as bringers of order. From Bhramari Devi, also known as the Goddess of the black bees, to Athena, the bee has long been representative of strong, protective and skilled feminine energy.
“You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman.” Jane Galvin Lewis
“Instead of getting hard ourselves and trying to compete, women should try and give their best qualities to men – bring them softness, teach them how to cry.” Joan Baez
Balanced Bee people are happiest when productive. They are drawn to and welling with a sweetness of personality, committed to their “hive”, inventive, gentle, social, co-operative, community minded, and health-conscious individuals. Beware rousing their anger though! Not only might they react with quite a sting, but they can draw others into joining forces with them against a “common enemy”! Bee people also need to be aware of how they are giving out their time and energy as bees will wear themselves out in the service of their hive. Trust your intuition in all things.
Are those you give to appreciative? Do they return the same kind of generous and kind energy to the World around them? If not, perhaps you ought to rethink your position as Bees truly flourish only with a well-balanced give and take between all members of the hive. Don’t be afraid to say no! All too often I’ve been pulled away from something because someone has asked for my help “for a minute” and before I know it the day is gone and my chosen task has been left in the dust! This is an easy trap for Bee people to get stuck in. Bee people also benefit from a study of aromatherapy, the language and uses of flowers, trees and plants. Hypoglycemia and diabetes are common occurrences in those called by Bee, so good nutrition and fitness habits are vital.
Bee people often find that they must put out a large amount of effort in the beginning, but that everyone and everything will come together to aide you as time goes on. Bee people need to connect to the World around them in a wide variety of ways and to share themselves with a network of like-minded folk. Stressful conditions will often cause Bee people to feel the need to simply fly away, like Bees who abandon a hive that has become too crowded. It’s OK to court the need for variety, to try something new, to end old habits in favor of better ones, but beware using any of these things as an excuse to simply fly off the handle.
Bees need to keep a “clean house” for decay will attract predators. Aggression is also dangerous for Bee people as stinging words can bring about an abrupt death in a relationship, whether between friends, family, or lovers. Bee venom has been used in the treatment of diseases such as Arthritis, Rheumatism, Multiple Sclerosis and other painful, aching conditions. Toxic substances have long been known to be extremely powerful healers when used in the right dose or combination with other drugs or substances. So, it’s not always what you say…it’s how you say it, and of course suiting actions to words is always important. It isn’t enough to hum the tune, you gotta dance to share the good in life!
When a balanced Bee person feels driven to sting, it is important for them to remember not to allow the energy that prompted the action to continue within our “hive”. Home is the one place we should always feel safe and at peace. Often times, Bee people will find that they are the ones within a situation to broach a painful topic or state the facts that others have been avoiding, thus keeping themselves progress or healing. Slothfulness, working too hard, excessive seclusion or feelings of “not belonging”, an inability to say no when we should, and an extreme focus on either the best or worst in our lives are all signs of unbalanced Bee energy.
Many people fear bees and rightly so as the bee sting can be deadly to those with intense allergic reactions or diabetes. Yet, we often learn the most from what we fear. Those with a fear of bees should examine their lives and how it relates to this remarkable creature, as it may be a Shadow guide for you. Do you perhaps fear commitment to others, despise orderliness, or your own feminine powers of intuition and sensuality? How do Bees appear in your life?
“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best…” and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called." A.A. Milne
“How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!”
“The goal is to live a full, productive life even with all that ambiguity. No matter what happens, whether the cancer never flares up again or whether you die, the important thing is that the days that you have had you will have lived.” Gilda Radner
Key Concepts: Divine Feminine, Organization/Natural Order, Industry, Sweetness, Fate, Fortune, Fruition, the Soul, Royalty, Community, Purity, Diligence, Natural Magic, Transformation, Healing, Duty, Fertility, Solar energy, dance, hidden wisdom and love
Potential Balancing Energies: Bears, spiders, ants, mites and other insects, flowers like daisy or sunflower, trees like apple or cherry, plants like clover, alfalfa or pitcher plant, various birds like sparrow or black phoebe, earth, air, fire, frog/toad, lizard, raccoon, badger, apes/monkies, bats, honey possum, bull/cattle, horse
Associated with: Ra, Neith, Apollo, Hermes/Mercury, Oghma, Brighid, Lugh Lamfada, Demeter, Rhea, Gaia, Isis, Artemis, Bhramari Devi, Kamadeva, Cerridwen, Henwen, Aristaeus, Vishnu, Krishna, Pan, Austeja, Bubilas, Mellonia, Zosim, St. Ambrose, various Pharoahs including Tutenkaman, Napoleon, Virgil, Sophocles, Plato, Alexander the Great, Asclepias, The Muses, The Fates
Each Who Sings Now? poem is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; tree, stone, animal, plant, etc. All Our Relations are still willing to teach anyone willing to gratefully listen. Nothing is ever truly lost as long as there is still someone willing to look for it.