Mythology Surrounding Bees

Bees in ancient mythology

When people think about insects and animals from mythology, they normally do not think about bees. A lot of people do not know that bees hold a very strong presence in ancient societies and within mythology. They appear throughout history in various civilizations.

In Aegean and Ancient Near East cultures, bees held a special place in the pagan religions. They were thought to be the sacred insect that was able to bridge between the underworld and the natural world. In the Mycenaean culture, the Mycenaean tholos actually had their tombs shaped like beehives, and bees were often used as decorations throughout these tombs as well.

Back in the Mayan culture, there was even a God known as the Bee God, and his name was Ah-Muzen-Cab. In cities that were designated to produce honey, bee motifs would be seen throughout the ruins, and these motifs lead historians to believe that honey was considered to be the food of the gods.

Ah-Muzen-Cab picture

Ah-Muzen-Cab, the Mayan god of bees and honey

Some of the other mythological gods that had a connection to bees are Apollo, Kamadeva, Ra, and Aristaeus. Aristaeus comes from Greek Mythology, and he is actually known as the god of bee-keeping. Kamadeva is a Hindu love god, and the bowstring to her bow is actually made out of honeybees. Ra from Egyptian mythology also has a connection to bees. It is said in mythology that when Ra the sun god would shed tears and they landed on the desert sand bees would actually grow from the spots where the tears landed. Last but not least, Apollo’s gift of prophecy was said to have come to him from three bee maidens.

The symbolism of bees also runs strong throughout many different civilizations and mythology. Back in ancient Egypt, particularly within Lower Egypt, bees were an insignia of kinship that was used, and even after the Lower and Upper Egypt were unified, the presence of the symbolism of bees was still there.

The Merovingians were known to use the honey bee for their royal emblem, and it signified both resurrection and immortality. After the Merovingians, Napoleon actually revived this emblem using it as his own. The old saying ‘busy as a bee’ actually comes from heraldry because of it symbolizing indefatigable efforts and diligence.

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