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Author Topic: Telling of the Bees  (Read 1732 times)
reinbeau
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« on: December 15, 2008, 04:59:58 PM »

The thread reporting the death of EOHenry (A Beekeeper Passes...) brought up the superstition of telling the bees of the beekeeper's passing.  I know there was an article in one of the bee magazines about it, but I couldn't find it, so I wandered around the web in search of the legend.  I found a website for The Museum of Jurassic Technology, and they sold a little booklet called Tell the Bees....Belief, Knowedge & Hypersymbolic Cognition.  This little booklet contains many superstitions, including the story of Telling the Bees.  I had it sent to me.  What was a little disconcerting was the misspelling of Dadant on the first plate in the booklet, it's a picture of the Dadant queening room, courtesy of Dadant & Sons, hopefully the rest of the booklet is a little bit more accurate!  I haven't gone through the whole thing, but zeroed right in on the story we were interested in.

Excerpted below:

Quote
Of the practices associated with insects, probably no practice is o widely held as that of Telling the Bees and, although it varies somewhat among peoples, it is invariably a most elaborate ceremonial.  If a member of a family marries, the bees should be told, or they will leave the hive and not return.  If a member of the family dies, the bees in their hives must be told, or they will die.  The procedure is that as soon as the master or mistress has breathed his or her last, a younger member of the household, often a child, is told to visit the hives and rattling a chain of small keys taps on the hive and whispers three times (*)

            Little Brownies, little brownies, your mistress (master) is dead
            Little Brownies, little brownies, your mistress (master) is dead
            Little Brownies, little brownies, your mistress (master) is dead

Silence is then observed for a few moments.  If the bees begin to hum, they have consented to continue living.  A piece of funeral crepe is then tied to the hive and later sweet drink or a piece of funeral cake is brought to the hives for the bees to feed upon.  In addition, the bees are often invited to the funeral.  The letter to them is written 9in the same hand and terms as that to relatives of the deceased:  "You are invited to the funeral of _____ which is to take place at _____, &c, &c."

There are many corollary practices associated with the telling of the bees, one of the most important being the 'heaving up' of the hives.  This practice requires that on the day of the funeral as the funeral party is preparing to leave the house the hive and coffin are both 'heaved' or lifted at the same moment.  It has also been noticed that bees dislike 'bad behavior' and menstruous women.  Care must also be taken that no one uses bad language near the hives, as it disturbs and annoys the bees.


There's also a 'Transmigration of Souls' that is also attributed to the honeybee, if anyone is interested I'll post that in another thread.  This little booklet is very interesting, I'll have to read it through and see what other lore interests us beeks!


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- Ann, A Gardening Beek -  ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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Keith13
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« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2008, 05:19:17 PM »

The bad language part I believe. Everytime I get popped I might mutter son of a *****
Next thing you know I'm getting hit again grin grin

Keith
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Sean Kelly
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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2008, 06:40:03 PM »

Have you read, "Letters From the Hive"?  It goes into great detail about this.  Seems it was a pretty common practice with ancient Mayan beekeepers.  Fascinating book, highly recommend it.

Sean Kelly
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annette
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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2008, 08:18:19 PM »

Have you read, "Letters From the Hive"?  It goes into great detail about this.  Seems it was a pretty common practice with ancient Mayan beekeepers.  Fascinating book, highly recommend it.

Sean Kelly

Sean, Tell me more about this book. Who is it by.
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annette
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2008, 08:20:06 PM »

Reinbeau

This is pretty interesting stuff.What year is that book??  I would like to read more,please post more.

Thanks
annette
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Pond Creek Farm
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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2008, 08:42:53 PM »

Letters from the Hive by Stephen Buchmann with Banning Reppler.
Bantam Books
ISBN 0-553-80375-1

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« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2008, 08:46:57 PM »

Thanks, I printed this information out. Will try to purchase this book.

Annette
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reinbeau
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« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2008, 08:21:26 AM »

Yes, Sean, thank you, I will get that book.

Annette, this is a little booklet is from a museum, it isn't really a book, although it is officially published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Information Press, which is the publishing arm of The Museum of Jurassic Technology.  This society is rather intriguing.  The little booklet cost $3.00 and it was delivered via First Class mail.  I think I ordered it on Saturday, I had it on Monday!  Here is a direct link to the booklet.
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- Ann, A Gardening Beek -  ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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annette
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« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2008, 04:16:45 PM »

Yes, Sean, thank you, I will get that book.

Annette, this is a little booklet is from a museum, it isn't really a book, although it is officially published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Information Press, which is the publishing arm of The Museum of Jurassic Technology.  This society is rather intriguing.  The little booklet cost $3.00 and it was delivered via First Class mail.  I think I ordered it on Saturday, I had it on Monday!  Here is a direct link to the booklet.



Thanks I ordered it. Very cheap just $3.25 total including shipping.
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Cindi
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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2008, 10:29:15 PM »

Ann, oh you have started a most wonderful and beautiful thread.  I have no clue why some things strike me as they do.  But every time I see the title of this post "Telling of the Bees", I am compelled to read the comments, I am compelled by the title to do so.  I don't know what it is about me, but I am that strange one, and the oddest things strike my fancy, and I must speak these thoughts.  So, I ramble......when I go, I know that my family will carry on this tradition, they will tell my bees -- and if anything most wonderful will come of it, my progeny will tend my bees that I will have left in their care.  Have that most beautiful and most wonderful life, day, health, and so many other things of beauty.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
hongsi
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« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2008, 02:39:49 AM »

  Telling the bees is still practiced in UK .  Bees are duly informed of all major events in the beekeepers life, births, deaths and marriages etc.  the hives are hung with bunting and a bottle of beer set on the hive with other edible offerings. The bees are then told of the event.  Those that tell bees will also insist a pint of beer must be consumed prior to collecting a swarm.  Its a must.                                       
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There will be a time when the old shall be new again  ovid
Cindi
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« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2008, 10:35:51 AM »

Hongsi, nice to have you join the forum, another fellow Canadian, may I add, across the Fraser River from me, we are practically neighbours.  If you have the desire or time,go to the greetings forum and tell us a little about yourself, we love to have new members come here.  Have that great and wonderful day, health.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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