I have heard about the old ritual that when a keep dies, another keep should go to his hives and tell them that their master is gone.
Does anyone know more on this subject? Where and when did it start? I find it intriguing!
Kinda hard to understand. You can read the poem at http://www.bloomfieldbeeshoney.com/beepoem.shtml
An exerpt: It is said that when a beekeeper dies, one must go to his hives and whisper to his bees that their master has departed. This honors both bees and beekeepers, and we hope you enjoyed reading this poem.
In Southern Appalachia, those who can "talk to the bees" can foretell death, the bees tell them (so I guess the bees would already know the master is dead?). Novelist Sharyn McCrumb has a recurring character named Nora Bonecutter who "has the sight" and "talks to the bees."
There is much folk culture linking bees and death. Some of it has to do with honey as a burial offering, some with beeswax as candles, some with the hexagonal shape of the cells, some with the inscrutable mystery of a species that is millions of years old and close to eternity.
Another beek coming to do a "pastoral visit" with a dead keeper's bees is probably more comforting to the keepers than the bees... but I still like it.
When a beekeeper dies, the bees must be informed. I learned this tradition a few years ago, while visiting Slovenia’s Apicultural Museum. One of the exhibits was a short film. My mother and I watched as a grandfather trained a lederhosen-wearing boy to be a beekeeper. Shot entirely in golden late afternoon light, it was a bittersweet story, and near the end of the film the grandpa died. A final scene showed the boy hunkered near the hive, his lips moving in a whisper. I knew the boy would have felt the heat of the hive, generated by so many thousands of bees, and that it would have smelled like wax and propolis — a rich ambrosial aroma. The bees whining through the box would have sounded like a wail. How consoling that act would be in the face of death.
I believe the idea of informing bees of things that go one within the keepers house probably goes back much farther. The Celtic people believe that bees were messengers between realms. But I found this: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/osc/osc69.htm
Posted on December 12, 2010 by LaLA Honey
Telling the bees is a tradition dating back to Medieval times, where a designated “beespeaker” visited the apiaries to tell the bees about significant events in the lives of the community. It is still thought by some apiarists that when a beekeeper dies someone must inform the hives of his of her death and introduce them to their new keeper. It has been observed that failure to report the beekeeper’s death will cause the bees to swarm.
I have never heard of this before.
My first reaction was, "Aw c'mon now, beeks never die."
Than came reality, and I felt like saying, "How sad".
Finally came acceptance and I thought, "How nice and respectfully thoughtful."
But all through, it made me feel a bit sad.
A redeeming thought was that it's nice if the informing beek is a child of the deceased and comes to replace the loss of the "master" with a continuing generation.
I read something along the line of this in an old bee keeping magazine. There was also an interesting side story that reported that during the funeral for a very old beekeeper, when the hearse drove past his apiary a swarm issued from one of his hives which then followed the procession to the graveyard and settled in one of the trees at the grave site. When the funeral had ended the swarm then moved on...
From what I've read, to "tell the bees" is to inform the bees of their keeper's death so that they can understand what has happened to him/her and so that they will continue to produce honey.
America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within. - Josef Stalin