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Bees

Bees

It was maintained by certain demonologists that if a sorceress ate a queen bee before being captured, she would be able to sustain her trial and tortures without making a confession. In some parts of Brittany it was claimed that these insects were very sensitive to the fortunes and misfortunes of their master, and would not thrive unless he was careful to tie a piece of black cloth to the hive when a death occurred in the family, and a piece of red cloth when there was any occasion of rejoicing.

The Latin grammarian Gaius Julius Solinus (third centuryC.E.) wrote that there are no bees in Ireland, and even if a little Irish earth be taken to another country and spread about the hives, the bees would abandon the place, so fatal to them is the earth of Ireland. The same story is found in the Origines of Isodore. "Must we seek," says Pierre Lebrun, author of Critical History of Superstitious Practices (1702), "the source of this calumny of Irish earth? No; for it is sufficient to say that it is a fable, and that many bees are to be found in Ireland."

There are many ancient superstitions about bees. In biblical times they were thought to originate in the bodies of dead cattle, hence the riddle by Samson in Judges 14:8, "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." In fact, the skeletonized rib cage skeleton of dead cattle provided a natural beehive. In Egyptian mythology, bees arose from the tears of the sun god Ra, while a Breton superstition said they came from the tears of Christ on the cross. In Hindu mythology, bees formed the bowstring of Kama, the Indian Cupid.

Popular folklore claimed that bee stings aided arthritis and rheumatism sufferers and recently bee venom has been revived as a possible treatment for multiple sclerosis.

In rural districts all over the world, the old custom of "telling the bees" persisted when there was a death in the family or someone left home. In Ireland, the bees also told secrets or advised on new projects. In ancient European folklore, bees were regarded as messengers to the gods, and the custom of "telling the bees" might have been a remnant of the idea of keeping the gods advised of human affairs.

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Bees

BEES

BEES were social gatherings that combined work with pleasure and often competition. They were named specifically for the task around which they centered. Apple-paring, corn-husking, quilting, wool-picking, house-raising, log-rolling, and other sorts of bees served to ease the labor of the individual.

Cooperative work for productivity and pleasure was an English custom that came across the Atlantic with early settlers. In the New England and middle colonies and on the early frontiers, various communal activities formed an important exception to the ordinarily isolated lives of American farm families. The motivation was both economic and social. Log rollings and barn raisings necessitated collective effort; corn-husking and threshing were most efficiently done by common endeavor. Quilting, sewing, and canning bees afforded women the opportunity to discuss family, friends, and community while they worked collectively. The cooperative nature of bees served as a basis for socialization. Bees roused the competitive spirit, making a sport of work. And the feasting, music, dancing, and games that followed the work itself provided courting opportunities for young people.

Machinery and specialized labor largely ended these practices. Some, such as the threshing ring, survive where farms are not large and farming is diversified.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Earle, Alice Morse. Home Life in Colonial Days. 1898. Stock-bridge, Mass.: Berkshire Traveller Press, 1974.

Hawke, David Freeman. Everyday Life in Early America. New York: Harper and Row, 1988.

DeirdreSheets

See alsoToys and Games ; Work .

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Bees

40. Bees

See also 225. INSECTS .

apiarist
a person who tends bees.
apiary
a beehive or collection of beehives. apiarian, adj.
apiculture
the art and science of beekeeping. apiculturist, n.
apimania
an abnormal love of bees.
apiology
a specialty within entomology that studies honeybees. apiologist, n.
apiphobia, apiophobia
an intense fear of bees. Also called melissophobia .
melittology
Rare. apiology. melittologist, n.

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bees

bees
1. See APIDAE; APOCRITA; HYMENOPTERA; SPHECOIDEA.

2. (solitary mining bees) See ANDRENIDAE.

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bees

bees See Hymenoptera.

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