Here are 10 interesting facts about beekeeping that you probably didn't know!
Mythology claims that bees were given to Aristaeus, son of Apollo, by nymphs in return for four dead bulls and four dead heifers. The bees were said to have emerged from the carcasses of these bovine and for centuries the idea that bees were born from dead animals persisted.
Bees were once thought to be representative of a perfect society - loyal to their queen and working together for the good of the commonwealth.
Shakespeare uses a fable of bees in Henry V to illustrate what a commonwealth during a time of war should look like. The first use of bee society as a lesson was in Seneca's De Clementia - written for his pupil Nero. Leo Tolstoy was an avid beekeeper, and in his novel War and Peace he compares Moscow, lacking inhabitants after its capture by Napoleon, to a "queenless hive."
Bernard Mandeville, a Dutch philosopher, wrote a poetic, political satire titled The Fable of the Bees: or Private Vices, Publik Benefits in which he compares a corrupt hive to one that conducts its affairs "honestly," ultimately declaring that "private vices" are necessary to produce "public benefits." This satire was very influential for both Adam Smith and Karl Marx.
The Freemasons, the oldest fraternal organization in the world which includes notable people from George Washington to Ludwig van Beethoven to Arnold Palmer, use the beehive as a symbol in all official documents and drawings. They believe the beehive symbolizes thrift and industry as well as orderliness and stability.
The bee was used as a sacred emblem of royalty in Egyptian society and was also adopted by Napoleon as his personal badge.
In mythology, when Zeus was a baby, his mother Rhea used bees to protect the future king of the gods against Kronos - who would eat all of his children.
In ancient societies, honey was used as a preservative. Honey is both hygroscopic (absorbs water) and antimicrobial which makes it perfect for embalming.
The name "Melissa" translates to "honeybee" in Greek. The word "mellifluous" comes from the Latin mel, honey, + fluere, to flow: pleasingly smooth and musical to the ear.
Beekeeping is said to be the second-oldest profession. In Africa, people will use the Indicator indicator bird or "Greater Honeyguide" to find beehives. The relationship between the people and this bird is symbiotic, as both benefit - the bird leads them to the honey and the people open the hive to share the spoils.
If you found these facts interesting, let me know if you would like to hear more about bees, beekeeping, and its history!