9 comments on “Devoted Bees. 1953.

  1. Gawd … if this is true then..Greyfriars Bobby move over. The fact that there used to be a custom of telling the bees of a death inclines me to think a) this might be true and b) we know a lot less about the hive mind than we think.
    ! Just did a quick google and apparently this custom is well known amongst beekeepers in the UK !
    Folklore is like an encyclopedia of oral ? knowledge passed on from generation to generation and is often based in something pragmatic that works. My my 😀

  2. Blimey, for a minute there you turned a perfectly harmless story into something akin Stephen King’s ‘The Swarm’. If you think that each bee might have a slight percentage of the complexity of the human brain, what could ten thousand of the little beggars have when humming together ( apart from a choir of course).
    The custom is that you must tell the bees of any illness and impending death in the house and then must announce the death to the hive when it happens. That’s any death, not just the owners.But who’s to say they’re not devoted little characters and that there was no one to announce the death. Wouldn’t you want to see for yourself? And if they can sniff out a bit of pollen then surely they wouldn’t have a problem smelling us out. One of your sons has certainly been lending himself to the task recently hasn’t he?
    I love bees, why only last year one of them committed suicide trying to help my arthritis by stinging me. Such a noble death. Made a mess of my newspaper though !
    Seriously, if pets become attached to their masters and mattresses ( you mentioned Greyfriars Bobby acflory) how do we know bees don’t as well?

    • I just imagined all of those bees with tiny little tissues making a sad trip to say their final farewells to a kindly keeper.

      I love that custom of telling the bees, I think that it shows how important they were to people in the past, maybe we should appreciate them a little more these days too.

      I don’t know if bees become attached to their keepers, perhaps Emma, one of my other regular readers who just happens to be a bee keeper, can help us with that!

      • I love this story! It could be just a happy coincidence, although…

        Bees are known to have preferences for different beekeepers. Our bees like Emily and me, and a couple of others at the apiary, but when they see a bearded beekeeper they get quite stingy!

        Colonies have (rarely) been known to abscond from hives when they get a new beekeeper, perhaps to find somewhere better. But bees are mostly female, so what else can you expect? 😉

        • It is a great story, but I think of it as a coincidence too. A pity, I would love it to be true 🙂

          I didn’t know that bees had preferences for different keepers, I wonder what you have to do to upset a hive and get on the bad books of those thousands of little minds!

          I wonder what makes the colony decide to leave a new keeper? I can just imagine the bees gossiping with each other about the new keepers shifty eyes, bad hair, or the way they spray their smoker not being right… 😉

          Thanks for sharing!

          • When you put it like that it certainly seems a feat to upset ‘thousands of little minds’! 🙂 The colony tends to think as one and it might be a smell they don’t like or, more than likely, the way they are handled. I’ve visited ‘nasty’ hives to find they are ‘quite nice’ when handled gently, so I’m not surprised commercial beekeepers find their colonies have absconded after seeing how roughly they handle them. The bees probably get fed up of being rolled and bashed about.

            I hope my bees don’t gossip about me! 😉

          • My brain always thinks along the lines of Muppets and Looney Tunes so no matter the reality of the world I imagine the situation evolving in the silliest way possible!

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