Yesterday's post about news bees brought up other bee folklore-specifically honey bee folklore like this:
*If a bee owner dies, the bees must be told of the death and moved or they will leave the hive.
Pap never had bees when I was growing up-but since I've been grown I've wished more than once that I did-and I hope to fulfill my dream of being a bee keeper someday.
I was familiar with the tradition of telling bees their owner had died before Sheryl mentioned it yesterday-I'm positive I read it in a book.
I jumped over to The Frank C. Brown Collection of NC Folklore to see what it had to say about honey bee folklore. In addition to the one above the book also had these tidbits:
*The success of swarming bees can be told in the following verse: Swarm in May worth a load of hay; Swarm in June worth a silver spoon; Swarm in July not worth a fly.
*Rob your bees during the new of the moon and they'll produce more honey next time.
*Its bad luck to sell bees. (maybe this means someone will give me theirs!)
*If you sell your bees and receive payment into your hand you have sold your luck with your bees. To sell bees you must have the buyer lay the payment on a rock and refrain from picking up the money until the bees are gone with their new owner.
*When a member of the family dies the bee hives must be draped in black cloth to make sure they don't leave.
*If you fail to move your bees when a family member dies-all the bees will die as well.
A few other pieces of bee folklore I've heard:
*If a bee flies in and out of the house-it brings good luck.
*Bees should be told of any major change in the owner's family-weddings, births, etc. or they will leave.
Going back to the first piece of folklore mentioned-I found a wonderful old poem about telling the bees:
Telling The Bees written by John Greenleaf Whittier 1894
Here is the place; right over the hill
You can go here: The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore to read an excerpt about the ritual of telling the bees being wide spread throughout the British Isles. The page also tells that honey bees will not do well in a quarrelsome family-nor do honey bees like to hear bad language-they prefer to be talked to politely and quietly.
Seems the bee folklore is like much of the other folklore from Appalachia-it came across the big pond with those first settlers so long ago.