Although honey bees are the most commonly referred to species when bees are mentioned, there are many species, worth mentioning. There were no honey bees in North America before Europeans arrived. There were, and remain, many other species of bees (carpenter bees, mason bees, blueberry bees, bumble bees) and other Native American pollinators such as flies and wasps which efficiently pollinate Native American crops, like tomatoes, eggplants, blueberries, cranberries, squashes and melons, but the European honeybee, brought by early European settlers, is a handy pollinator of many imported food crops upon which the US has come to rely, including many important fruit trees. The domestic honeybee has been bred for thousands of years to be gentle and prolific.
In addition to the valuable pollination services bees provide farmers, honeybees also provide honey, a natural sweetener, beeswax, useful for making high-quality candles, and propolis, bee pollen and royal jelly used by holistic healers. Mead, a liquor brewed from honey, is an important ritual beverage for many Heathen paths.
Social bees are ruled by a queen. They communicate via pheromones and use elaborate dances to communicate locations. Bees are sensitive to electromagnetic fields, which helps them predict and react to weather changes and to navigate.
The white noise (noise that cancels out other sounds) that beehives make may have applications for Chaos Magic.
Many bee species are facing crises at the moment. Colony Collapse Disorder is causing the death of honey bees across the United States. Varroa mites and chemicals are decreasing the number of many species of bees. Those of us who love bees can help by refusing to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides in our gardens, by planting a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers that bloom at different times of year and by planting gardens instead of lawns as well as keeping abreast of ongoing research
Bee Symbolism and Correspondences
Bees have fascinated humans since time immemorial and have long been associated with fertility, joy, feminine power, teamwork, growth, industriousness and the sweetness of life.
In ancient Egypt, bees symbolized the lower Kingdom of Egypt and in later times the united kingdoms of Egypt. It is said that the first bees were formed from the tears of Ra as they fell upon the desert sand.
In ancient Greece, bees symbolized industry, hard work and obedience to competent leadership as well as prophecy. Bees appeared in Mycenaean tomb decorations, and some tombs were shaped like beehives, leading one to speculate that bees may have been viewed as psychopomps or messengers of the dead, or even that the human soul transmuted into bee form after death.
The Oracle of Delphi is referred to as the Delphic Bee in Pindar’s 4th Pythian Ode and there is a story that the temple at Delphi was built by bees. Here we see the bee again viewed as both hard workers and messengers between the realms of God and man. The Homeric Hymn to Hermes Apollo suggests Hermes seek out the gift of prophecy from bees, described as … certain holy ones, sisters born —three virgins gifted with wings: their heads are besprinkled with white meal…These are teachers of divination… From their home they fly now here, now there, feeding on honey-comb and bringing all things to pass. And when they are inspired through eating yellow honey, they are willing to speak truth; but if they be deprived of the gods’ sweet food, then they speak falsely, as they swarm in and out together.
Bees also symbolize gifts given with a punishment hidden inside for those who don’t appreciate them. The bee’s honey is sweet, but if you do not approach her with respect, her sting is painful.
In heraldry, the bee symbolizes tireless effort and diligence.
Bees in Magick
The symbol of a bee can seal a spell with sweetness for allies and those who appreciate goodwill and a sting for thieves and cheaters.
If you wish to use the body of a bee in your magic spell, seek them out in the autumn as the weather cools as many bees meet their natural end during this time. You will find them on the ground near their hives and favorite foraging spots but take care. Some bees may appear to be dead because the temperature is too cold for them to move but will come to life as soon as it warms up. Bees resting on plants and flowers are probably just sleeping, while bees on the ground are more likely dead.
According to some modern word-of-mouth: bees are closely associated with the fae and their presence in your garden indicates the blessings of the fae. Encouraging bees, by putting up bee houses, hives, planting bee-friendly plants and waterers and not using pesticides, encourages the blessings of the fae, while harming bees can incur their wrath.
Honey is used often in magick to sweeten a situation. The Honey Jar spell is an example. Anointing your lips with honey will make your words sound sweeter.
- Sighting a single bee is lucky.
- A swarm foretells bereavement. (If you are a beekeeper who happens to have an empty hive, it foretells free honey.)
- If a honeybee lands on you, it’s a good thing. On your hand, you’ve got money coming in; On your head, success.
- Bees buzzing around a child’s head foretells a happy, successful life. If it lands on the child’s mouth or face, he will be a great poet.
- A bee flying into your house is lucky, as long as you let it fly out under its own power. Alternatively, it means a guest is coming. If you kill it, the guest will bring you dire news.
Dreaming of Bees
If you are dreaming of bees, you may be receiving a good omen as detailed above. Bee dreams are almost always about relationships and interactions with other people.
Or the bees in your dreams may be telling you to take a look at your social networks. They may be pointing toward a desire for more harmonious and functional relationships or celebrating the ones you have. (Only you can know this for sure, take a look at your life.)
A visit from a bee in a dream may also be putting you on noticed that some beloved friend or family member is in need of communication from you. You will know as this person will also pop into your mind somehow. This dream indicates that you should call them or perhaps, that you will hear from them soon.
Dreaming of a beehive usually relates to the home and family or your business and coworkers. A happy, buzzing hive means a happy, buzzing home. It may foretell incoming abundance and fruitful times ahead. If the bees are swarming around the hive, rather than working in it, proceed with caution. There is a lack of harmony that is interfering with productivity.
A swarm of bees may indicate that you feel that a group of people upon whose cooperation you rely (family, coworkers, coven) is becoming chaotic and out of control, or perhaps your need to balance your own interaction with your different business and social groups for your own sanity.
Gods associated with bees and honey:
Aphrodite, Cybele, Freya, Odin, Pan, Ra, Thor, Vishnu, Neith, Amun, and Min, Potnia, Artemis, Demeter, Kamadeva, Aristaeus
More Information Online
Bee Symbolism from Universe of Symbolism
Bumblebee Spiritual Meaning from Auntyflo.com
“10 Best North American Trees for Bees” at Insects.about.com
“Honey Could Help Fight Cancer” at BBC News
How Can You Help the Bees at PBS.org
The Buzz on Honeybees from the Witches Almanac
The Witch and the Bee from Witch of the Wood at Patheos.com
Legends and Lore of Bees from Learnreligions.com