Blessings of the Bees

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Honeybees have always had a special place in the hearts of the men and women who keep them. Here are some prayers, poems and other evidence of the very spiritual connection between bees and mankind.

Please add your own thoughts and examples as you find them. (Be sure to add the attribution to the original author wherever known.)


Blessing of Bees on the Feast of St. Benedict

O Lord, God almighty, who hast created heaven and earth and every animal existing over them and in them for the use of men, and who hast commanded through the ministers of holy Church that candles made from the products of bees be lit in church during the carrying out of the sacred office in which the most holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ thy Son is made present and is received; may thy holy blessing descend upon these bees and these hives, so that they may multiply, be fruitful and be preserved from all ills and that the fruits coming forth from them may be distributed for thy praise and that of thy Son and the holy Spirit and of the most blessed Virgin Mary.

St. Benedict is the patron of beekeepers, and many Catholic beekeepers attach medals of St. Benedict on their hives. St. Benedict's feast was formerly March 21, but is now celebrated on July 11.

Beekeeper's Prayer

Busy little honeybee
Living in your Hive
Working night and day for me
God makes your strive.
Then upon my breakfast table
From you little bee
Comes your honey so delicious
Sticky, golden and yummy!
So for our little worker
Love for her let's send
Do not bother or disturb her
She's our busy friend!

courtesy of Russ Dean via BEE-L

A Beekeeper's Prayer

Dear Lord,

Please Lord, guide that beekeeper, the one so faithful, The one so proud and thankful for that golden honey so tasteful, for Lord, he puts his trust in you and in hives of honey bees, Lord with hopes that a bountiful harvest of honey he soon sees.

Please Lord, send him blessings for his toil, his devotion and his trust because Lord, going to the bee yard each day is a must. And Lord whether you send hot or cold, rain or shine, He, on that day, must trust those bees to be ever so kind.

Please Lord, give him strength and courage in those hard times, for Lord he knows the ladder to success is sometimes hard to climb. And remember Lord, in those hard times he always comes to you with his prayers, Lord, not prayers for himself he dares, but those for whom he cares.

Please Lord, provide him and his bees with all their needs, for Lord, much of the world their labor feeds, for without those bees plants could not produce seeds, and what would we all eat with only fields of weeds.

Please Lord, laden him with knowledge and wisdom, the kind only you provide, Lord, for him to recognize the work and loving support of his bride, Lord, for the joy that she brings just by being on and by his side, and too, Lord, that next to you, she is one reason for his pride.

Please Lord, because life can be burdensome Lord please continue to bless his home. Fill it with laughter of children not to be so lonesome, for Lord, young beekeepers, there is need for some.

Please Lord, not to make this prayer too long, please keep him and all from doing wrong, but like King David fill his heart with joyful song so Lord he won't be kicked out like a drone.

courtesy of Philip Earle via BEE-L

The Beemaster's Prayer

Will there be bees in heavenly places
Will there be bees?
Winging their way through the golden spaces
To fruitify the eternal trees
That yield their sweet life-giving store
Month by month for ever more.
Will soft bee music haunt the stream
Whose waters shine with crystal glow
And will they come where lilies gleam
To sip the eternal nectar flow?
Lord thou didst love our earthly places
Birds and flowers and shady trees-
Let there be Bees in heavenly places
Let there be Bees

Anon. (via BEE-L)

Requiem for the Beekeeper

He is dead, busy bees
He is dead, busy bees; he's dead, busy bees!
Go tell the sad news to the flowers on the leas;
Go tell the sad news over forest and fell,
He's dead, busy bees, who served you so well.

He is dead, busy bees; he's dead, busy bees!
In the stillness of the night his soul found release,
So soft his breath ceased no watcher could tell.
So peaceful his end, who loved you so well.

He is dead, busy bees; he's dead, busy bees!
The winter is coming and soon it will freeze;
Your stores may be low, for I've no means to tell,
Now he's dead, busy bees, who served you so well.

He is dead, busy bees; he's dead, busy bees!
How oft he sat with you and smoked at his ease,
And watched your swift flight as you flew o'er the dell,
Now he's dead, busy bees; who served you so well.

He is dead, busy bees; he's dead, busy bees!
The crepe on your hives is astir in the breeze,
Attune your low notes, as tolls the last bell,
With the song of the hive, as he loved it so well.

R. E. Richardson, 1948

There is an old tradition that when the beekeeper passes away, someone (often the youngest member of the household) must go to the beeyard and tell the bees.

Telling the Bees

Here is the place; right over the hill
Runs the path I took;
You can see the gap in the old wall still,
And the stepping-stones in the shallow brook.

There is the house, with the gate red-barred,
And the poplars tall;
And the barn's brown length, and the cattle-yard,
And the white horns tossing above the wall.

There are the beehives ranged in the sun;
And down by the brink
Of the brook are her poor flowers, weed-o'errun,
Pansy and daffodil, rose and pink.

A year has gone, as the tortoise goes,
Heavy and slow;
And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows,
And the same brook sings of a year ago.

There 's the same sweet clover-smell in the breeze;
And the June sun warm
Tangles his wings of fire in the trees,
Setting, as then, over Fernside farm.

I mind me how with a lover's care
From my Sunday coat
I brushed off the burrs, and smoothed my hair,
And cooled at the brookside my brow and throat.

Since we parted, a month had passed,--
To love, a year;
Down through the beeches I looked at last
On the little red gate and the well-sweep near.

I can see it all now,--the slantwise rain
Of light through the leaves,
The sundown's blaze on her window-pane,
The bloom of her roses under the eaves.

Just the same as a month before,--
The house and the trees,
The barn's brown gable, the vine by the door,--
Nothing changed but the hives of bees.

Before them, under the garden wall,
Forward and back,
Went drearily singing the chore-girl small,
Draping each hive with a shred of black.

Trembling, I listened: the summer sun
Had the chill of snow;
For I knew she was telling the bees of one
Gone on the journey we all must go!

Then I said to myself, "My Mary weeps
For the dead to-day:
Haply her blind old grandsire sleeps
The fret and the pain of his age away."

But her dog whined low; on the doorway sill,
With his cane to his chin,
The old man sat; and the chore-girl still
Sung to the bees stealing out and in.

And the song she was singing ever since
In my ear sounds on:--
"Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence!
Mistress Mary is dead and gone!"

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

Cupid and the Bee

Cupid once upon a bed
Of roses laid his weary head;
Luckless urchin, not to see
Within the leaves a slumbering bee!
The bee awak'd—with anger wild
The bee awak'd, and stung the child.
Loud and piteous are his cries;
To Venus quick he runs, he flies;
"Oh mother!—I am wounded through—
I die with pain—in sooth I do!
Stung by some little angry thing,
Some serpent on a tiny wing—
A bee it was—for once, I know
I heard a rustic call it so."
Thus he spoke, and she the while
Heard him with a soothing smile;
Then said, "My infant, if so much
Thou feel the little wild-bee's touch,
How must the heart, ah, Cupid! be,
The hapless heart that's stung by thee!"

-Thomas Moore
From the book, Myths of Old Greece By William Adams, 1900 (courtesy of Joe Waggle via BEE-L)

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