Bee Meaning and Symbolism
Determining the symbolic meaning of the bee (as with any creature) is best done by observing its behavior, social habits, community and environment. In the case of the bee, we can observe a highly social insect operating within a teamwork-based community with an intricate hierarchy. Their homes (hives) are highly symbolic, as is their physical body characteristics. This page on bee meaning will dive into symbolic highlights of the bee's behavior as a model for lessons we can use for our own lives. Furthermore, this article will offer some insight into bee meaning in history, culture and myth. I hope the following details offer clarity for your personal curiosities about the secret symbolic life of bees. Enjoy!
We can gain clues to bee meaning by observing the hive. A bees home is made of tightly packed cells in the shape of hexagons. These cells are made from beeswax, and the structure as a whole is called honeycomb. The hexagonal cells of the honeycomb stores food, and is also an ideal place for bees to raise their young. I'd like to hone in on the hexagonal symbolism of the beehive/honeycomb. Hexagons are comprised of six sides. The number six is symbolic of love (six is a sacred number for the goddess Venus), communication, balance and union. So, regarding the home (hive), the bee is a symbol of wholesome child-rearing, love within the family, domestic stability, harmony and open communication among family members. When the bee visits us, it's often a message for these family themes...an encouragement to open healthy communications within the family, reevaluate the home, and family. Bees remind us to focus on the nurturing of our family, community and support groups.
Bees continue to be a symbol of unified family when we learn about the queen. Worker bees elect a queen, and take special care of her until she matures. All the members of the hive work together to support the queen. They do this in order for the queen to insure new life, and continuation of the colony. This is symbolic of a family working together for the benefit of the group. It's symbolic of teamwork too. The bee often comes to us when we need reminding that there is no "I" in "teamwork". When the bee pays us a visit, we may need to self-evaluate. Are we more concerned with being "right" or having our own needs met than being concerned for our community? Bees in our awareness might be telling us to sacrifice our own needs or pride for the needs of others in our lives.
Bee meaning is connected with honey. Honey is a bi-product. Bees ingest flower nectar, partially digest it, and then regurgitate it within the comb. Not only is it used to feed baby bees, it's uses in human history are phenomenally diverse. From sweeteners, to anti-bacterial agents to even embalming agents (Egyptian mummies), honey has been a prized product of bees for centuries. Symbolically, honey represents nourishment, reward, sweetness, sensuality and wealth. Honey is associated with gold in many myths and legends. This equates it to reward achieved after an arduous undertaking. As bees are ceaseless in productivity, the lesson translates to mean something like: With hard work, we earn the gold.
Speaking of family, community and nurturing...bee meaning primarily deals with the theme of life. Aside from the unique way they insure continuation of colonies - the bee provides life for a huge faction within nature....Flowers. Bees flit from flower to flower gathering pollen for their purposes. Pollen clings to their fuzzy legs, and when the bee visits another nearby flower, the pollen rubs off - thus pollinating the plant - assuring its continued survival. In this light, the bee asks us what we are doing to insure the growth of our inner gardens. If our heart is a garden, how are we pollinating it? What kinds of beauty can we visit in order to allow growth in our hearts, dreams, minds and emotions? What are we feeding ourselves in order to feed our dreams?
We can learn a lot about symbolic bee meaning by taking a look at their position within history, culture and myth.
In Egypt, the bee was a symbol of royalty and power. This comes from the legend that the bee was born from the tears of Ra, who was an important sun god among ancient Egyptians. Furthermore, the ruler of Lower Egypt was often referred to as "He who belongs to the Bee."
Essene were a communal people who were devout to Judaism; they're known for their role as keepers of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Essene priests were referred to as "bees" because of their integral role within the community, their tireless devotion to God and their faith. In effect, Essene priests were busy as bees keeping the spiritual wisdom within the community available and protected.
As a symbol of love, bee meaning was associated with Cupid during Renaissance paintings. Bees are depicted stinging Cupid, the god of love and desire. The artistic symbolism deals with the blindness of love, and leaping into passion without regard to consequence. Apparently, Cupid is often shown dipping into honey, without thought to potential danger of protective bees. The Reaissance lesson here is "Beware of love's sting."
In Chinese symbology, illustrations of a bee sitting upon a flower represents courtship, marriage and love. Bees on flowers in respect to pollination is symbolic of the purity of maidens, and the potential for fruitfulness (conception and birth) after marriage. The word bee is fu in Chinese. As a homophone (a word that is the same sound, or rhymes with another word), fu rhymes with "happiness". In this light, bee meaning in Chinese iconography deals with happiness, good luck, prosperity and peace.
I hope you have enjoyed these thoughts on bee meaning and symbolism. Be sure to check out my article discussing bee meaning in dreams here. Also, please check out the links listed below for more relevant information. Thanks for reading!