It was World Bee Day yesterday (May 20th) and I thought I would write a little about this fascinating creature which features so prominently in The Emberjar series. "Go to the bee, thou poet; consider her ways and be wise." (George Bernard Shaw)
This quotation has been something which inspired me along the way of writing my series. Bees are found all over the world, in every continent except Antarctica - unsurprising since they need pollinating plant life to survive. Honey is enjoyed and treasured by all peoples, and has been since the time of early humans. It also enjoyed by many other creatures including bears, honey badgers and great apes like chimpanzees who have developed tools made of sticks to access the honey form the hive safely. There are many different types of man made hives around the world made of a variety of materials from tree branches to clay to basket work and wooden varieties.
In Flammeus, we are introduced to the idea of the BeeGuard whose job it is to look after the bees and to safely remove the much sought after honey. In Oramia, honey is eaten, often on flatbreads or dried fruit, but it is also used in medicines and salves, and the beeswax is used for waterproofing. The hives of Oramia are simple hollow log hives which are hoisted up into the trees on ropes and then lowered when the honey is removed. We learn that many of the BeeGuards in Oramia use soporific herbs to burn to smoke out the bees before they remove the honey, but some BeeGuards like Talla can freely access the hives. Some BeeGuards like Maren calm the bees with gentle, resonant humming.
In Kashiq, the beekeeping is a little different. Kashiq is a land with fewer large trees, and where growing is limited to along the rivers or in the settlements which are all based around underground springs which irrigate them and the plants they grow. Apricots and oranges both grow well in the climate of Kashiq, and the beehives there are grouped in the orchards to ensure that good fruit d formed by the pollination. The beehives of Kashiq are made of clay pipes which are sealed at either end, one with a removable disc so that the BeeGuard can access the honey, and the front of the hive is sealed with a decorated clay disc featuring a glazed design or pattern and a central aperture, through which the bees enter their hive. several of the stories in Finzari's Tales of the Trees have bees in them too.
People have been fascinated for hundreds of years with bees and their social community living. Their social organisation and their designated jobs have provoked much interest. Bees have been seen as messengers from the other world from a range of peoples ranging from the Ancient Egyptians to the Greeks to the Celts. Ancient Greek myth tells of the Thriae who were a trio of bee goddesses or naiads who had the heads of maidens and the bodies of bees. They possessed the skills of divinity and in Crete many of the Minoan priestesses were known as bees.
Happy World Bee Day!