The Quran also praises honey’s healing ability:“And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men’s) habitations; Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colors, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought.” It was the accepted
practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the
wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with
all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because
their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the
honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon. Thanks to fossilisation, Bees over 100 million years old have been discovered in amber, frozen in time, as if immortalised in their own honey. The Greeks called amber Electron, and associated it with the Sun God Elector, who was known as the awakener. Honey, which resembles amber, was also known as an awakener, a regenerative substance that was revered across the ancient world. The resemblance of honey with amber led to the Bees exalted status amongst ancient man and secured its favor over other fossilized insects.Bees accompanied Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and during the mythical Golden Age, honey dripped from trees like rain water. In Egypt, Bees symbolized a stable and obedient society, mantras that would later be adopted by Freemasonry – and the United States of America. The Bee’s ability to pollinate was not lost on prehistoric man and contributed to its reputation as a regenerative, transformative and mystical creature. Indeed, paintings from prehistory confirm that the Bee has been revered for tens of thousands of years.
In the Cave of the Spider near Valencia Spain, a 15,000 year old painting depicts a determined looking figure risking his life to extract honey from a precarious cliff-side Beehive. Honey hunting represents one of man’s earliest domestic pursuits and hints at the genesis of the Bee’s adoration in prehistory.
Veneration of the Bee continued in Neolithic Spain, as the highly stylised rendering of a dancing Bee below illustrates. The image underscores the quandary with Bee symbolism; that is, most of us would be hard pressed to identify the image and others like it, as a Bee. The tradition of the Bee worship in Spain has been preserved to this day, albeit under the rather macabre guise of Bull fighting. The modern day ‘sport’ is actually an extension of Mithraism, the ancient mystery school whose rites included the ritualistic slaughter of bulls. But we are getting ahead of ourselves, for to understand how bulls are related to Bees we must examine the Bee in prehistory still further.
The Bee is the only insect that communicates through dance, yet this largely forgotten trait is one of the reasons why Bee imagery from antiquity is often lost on the untrained eye. In her authoritative and oft quoted book, The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, Marija Gimbutas examines imagery on artefacts from Old Europe, circa 8000 BC, and concludes that they portray the Bee as a manifestation of the Mother Goddess
The Mother Goddess is arguably the oldest deity in the archaeological record and her manifestations are numerous, including likenesses of butterflies, toads, hedgehogs – and dancing Bees. In the ancient world, dancing Bees appear to have been special – the Queen Bee in particular, for she was the Mother Goddess – leader and ruler of the hive, and was often portrayed in the presence of adorning Bee Goddesses and Bee Priestesses.
Also in Anatolia, this time at the Neolithic settlement of Catal Huyuk, rudimentary images of Bees dating to 6540 BC are painted above the head of a Goddess in the form of a halo. Nearby, paintings of Beehive comb cells adorn rock strewn temple walls, recalling the day when such symbolism was widely understood – and important. In Anatolia, Bee veneration continued for thousands of years, as demonstrated by the 18th century BC Hittites, who relied on honey as an important element of their religious rites.