Informing the Bees

Traditional folklore says that when a beekeeper dies, the bees must be told of the death promptly, or else they will either weaken and quit working, or they will flee the hive. This custom is found in far-flung locations around the world.
In China, Beehives are turned a different direction after the death of their keeper, hinting at a superstition that harkens back to a more ancient custom. Details vary, but the essence remains the same – tell the Bees, and quickly. In England circa 1840, a woman inquired if the Bees had been informed of the death of their keeper and upon learning they had not, proceeded to prepare a dish of spice cake and sugar and presented it to the hive while jingling her keys and reciting the following rhyme;

“Honey bees, Honey bees, hear what I say!
Your Master J.A. has passed away.
But his wife now begs you will freely stay,
And still gather honey for many a day.
Bonny bees, Bonny bees, hear what I say.”

The story is but a small part of Andrew Gough's fascinating three-part post on the history of bees and beekeeping. Link -via TYWKIWDBI

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