What Do Bees Symbolize? True Meaning of Bee Symbolism

Have you seen a beehive up close? If you have, you might have found it fascinating. Because it is!

Bees divide themselves into hierarchical groups to get work done for their homes. Before I get into bee symbolism, let’s talk about how there are three elements in every bee home/society/hive:

  1. workers, who look after the collection of food outside the hive and the cleaning of the nest
  2. queen bees, who are responsible for laying eggs, and
  3. colony male bees, who fertilize the female bees.

You must be wondering, “How is this connected to bee symbolism?”

Well, bees majorly symbolize industry. It’s evident in the way they organize themselves to ensure their hive thrives!

True Meaning of Bee Symbolism
The True Meaning of Bee Symbolism
Image source: pixabay.com

9 Ideas That Bees Symbolize

Now that we’ve talked about industry, know that bees also symbolise:

1. Team Work

Bees cooperate with each other to get work done. Their societies could definitely spark envy among urban planners!

How do they manage to work as a team? 

  1. They clearly assign roles at the very beginning
  2. They all work towards a common goal: to protect the hive and their queen. That’s why they’re all so busy. (Ever heard of the term “busy as a bee?”)
  3. They are all equally competent and understand each other’s uniqueness

We surely have a thing or two (more like three!) to learn from these bees.

2. Loyalty

Loyalty is an important aspect of honey bee symbolism. 

Bees are loyal and fiercely protective of their home and their queen. They equally distribute work among themselves to ensure each feels important.

3. Ancient Greeks

Zeus, the King of Gods, was assisted by the bees when he was smuggled into a secret cave. While he hid away from his father, Kronos, who wanted to destroy him, the bees in the cave fed him and helped him survive. These bees were believed to even defend the cave from intruders.

Similarly, the god Dionysus was also raised in a cave and fed honey by the bees.

As we can see, honey was considered to be a beloved food of the gods. And, consuming nectar and ambrosia (foods that taste very similar to honey) was even believed to grant the gods immortality.

Did you know that bees were also believed to be members of the underworld? This was because their hives were located in cracks in walls. These cracks in walls were thought to be entrances to the underworld.

Another interesting fact: bees and honey were important to the economy of Greece. So much so, that the Ephesians even printed currency notes with images of bees on them.

And one more thing. Bees were also closely associated with children. This is because Zeus called upon bees to feed his children. Bees were also associated with childbirth, because the protector of women, Artemis, would look upon mothers with her faithful honey bees.

This shows that honey bee symbolism/bumblebee symbolism isn’t solely linked to gods and mythology, but also to human life.

Learn more about “The Sacred Bee” here!

4. Divinity

In several traditions, bees are associated with heaven, the soul, and the divine.

For instance, as per the Saxons and the Celts, bees were thought of as winged messengers between worlds.

Similarly, as per an Egyptian myth, when God Re cried, his tears morphed into bees to deliver messages to human beings.

5. Wealth, Good Luck, Prosperity and Spirituality

In addition to bee mythology, there’s a superstitious belief that bees bring great luck. Additionally, the color gold that honey possesses is associated with money & wealth. There’s even a spiritual meaning of bees landing on you! For these reasons, people believe that they’re lucky if a bee lands on their head, or even sits on their hand.

Remember, to prevent nasty stings, it’s best to not frighten them away! Once they’re frightened, they feel threatened. And that’s not going to go down very well.

6. Matriarchy

The Queen Bee is the ultimate symbol of matriarchy. She heads the bee society and gives orderly instructions, ensuring that everyone is provided for and protected.

However, the idea of a woman being in a powerful position wasn’t entirely accepted by patriarchal society. They even changed the name from “Queen Bee” to “King Bee”.

I know you’re rolling your eyes. I am too.

Learn about the curious feminist history of queen bees.

7. Happiness

Native Americans used to dance with bee masks on. To make their masks look like bees, they would paint them black and gold. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Well, beyond dancing around, they would also touch other dancers with their “stingers”. The stung dancers would receive gifts as compensation.

People dance when they’re happy. And when the Native Americans danced, they would make sure to dress up as bees. This demonstrates that bee symbolism is linked with happiness.

8. Bee Symbolism in Christianity

There are many bible verses about bees. 

What is the prophetic meaning of bees? The honey represents Jesus Christ’s sweet and gentle nature. And as for bee sting symbolism? It represents the cross and justice of Christ. Additionally, even the wisdom, diligence, and strength of bees symbolize that of Jesus.

9. Gratitude

Bee symbolism is closely associated with gratitude. Have you noticed how bees stop to suck the nectar out of flowers?

This could mean that we must take time out to enjoy the little things in life. No matter what, we must be grateful and appreciate the beauty of nature and life. 

And, What Do Dead Bees Symbolize?

Wondered what seeing a dead bee could possibly mean? Commonly, it could symbolize bad luck, a disease, peace, or a looming threat. It could also mean you’re overworking yourself since bees, afterall, are very hard working!

Representation of Bees in Western Art

Most artists used to use bees as a symbol in most of their works.

Artists studied that the honey bee was adapted from the symbol of fertility during the Renaissance in Europe. The bees were also associated with cult rituals, and eventually became a symbol of eloquence in Christianity.

By using bees as symbols in their works, artists aimed to understand the connection between bees and humanity.

They also found that it was believed that bees possess mystical abilities. After all, bees could create a lot of sweet honey just from simple pollen dust!

Want to do in-depth research on the representation of bees in Western Art? Read this.

Why Are Bees Crucial For Human Life?

Now that I’ve covered bee symbolism, let’s talk about why they are important.

They Pollinate Food Crops & Plants

If bees disappeared, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy delicious foods like cherries, lemons, apples, and cucumbers. Bees travel great distances to pollinate food crops and plants.

Bees also create “genetic variety” because they distribute various kinds of genes throughout different flowers and plants.

They Produce Honey

Duh! This is the obvious benefit.

Honey in itself has several benefits too. It reduces coughs, fights bacteria, and even heals wounds. And not to forget, it tastes delicious!

Read here: Why Do Bees Make Honey

Why do bees make honey?
What Do Bees Symbolize

Honey Products

Through honeybees, we can produce other products like bee pollen and bee wax.

With bee pollen, one can reduce cholesterol and energize the body. This is because it contains beneficial carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and enzymes.

And as for bee wax, it’s beneficial because it can be used in candles, skincare products, and furniture polish.

I hope you now feel more aware of bee symbolism! These “winged messengers” definitely inspire human beings to be the best version of themselves.