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Telling the Bees

When you see a bee this year, what news will you whisper?

in England and across Europe there is a rich historical practice of ’telling the bees’ about significant life events. Bees would be sought out and informed of big moments in people’s lives, like pregnancy, birth of a new child, marriages and the passing of people too. The custom was taken so seriously people believed the bees would leave their hives or stop making honey if not kept up to date!

Whilst the origin of ‘Telling the Bees’ is unknown, humans have long had a rooted connection with them. Honey would make prized mead and medicine to treat ailment. Candles made from beeswax would burn bright and help us through the long winter nights.

It is not surprising then that bees were given great respect and it was even considered bad manners to behave poorly in front of them. We have seen our black and yellow friends as symbols of fertility, their honey as a symbol of the divine too and in some cultures, bees have the important role of carrying souls to the afterlife.

So next time you see a busy bee, buzzing from flower to flower, have your stories ready to tell! That little bee friend will take your important tales back home to the hive.

Words: Dr Selina Ellis-Gray

Photos: Cheryl-Samantha Ellis

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