What Do Bees Symbolize?

What do bees symbolize? Since hundreds of years, people associate bees with various symbols, meanings, and also deities. From ancient Greece to modern-day America, the bee holds a variety of meanings and symbolisms. Therefore its symbol is found on numerous coins, jewelry, pots, and statues. 


The honeybee was sacred across all cultures in ancient mythology and is a universal symbol of ethical virtues, such as cleanliness, creativity, diligence, purity, sociability, and wisdom. Many cultures believe bees are a connection between the living world and the underworld. The earliest known symbolization of bees is from Ancient Greece.

Greek Mythology

Greek mythology has numerous gods associated with bees and honey. The gods considered bees as their servants. Bees symbolize health, knowledge, and power in Greek mythology. They worshipped honey, the ‘nectar of the gods´, for its healing properties, and used it as a balm for gods to transfer immortality. Historians believe that ambrosia was honey or mead, the food of the immortals of Mt Olympus. Commonly used for healing and preservation, honey became symbolic of health and prosperity.

According to mythology, the Greek god Apollo received his gift of prophecy from 3 bee-maidens, while his son Aristaeus is known as the god of beekeeping. Bees taught the Greek goddess Melissa how to use honey, hence her title Melissa, goddess of the bees. Artemis, the patroness of bees is the goddess of nature and the hunt, forests, hills, rocks, and rivers. She protected the home territory of wild bees, while Pan was the god of beekeeping.

A carved stone representing the omphalos (navel) or centre of the earth and symbol of Apollo (c. 330 BCE), Delphi Archaeological Museum, Greece. Photo Courtesy of Mark Cartwright

The famous Delphi oracle (Omphalos) is a carved stone in the shape of a beehive and is said to have been constructed by bees. As can be seen, it is covered in bee-like images linked in a beautiful pattern. Phythia, the chief priestess of Delphi, known as ‘The Delphic Bee´, and her priestesses the Queen Bees used honey to enter states of spiritual trance.

Celtic Mythology

Image by Hans from Pixabay

According to Celtic myth, bees were able to see both the future and the past. They had great wisdom and were messengers between the living and the other world, bringing back messages from the gods. Equally, they were a symbol of rebirth and new beginnings because they represented the soul of a person who passed away.

Artwork of Bridgit, the Celtic goddess of fire, healing and smith-craft often depicts her with a bee on her head. Brigid owned an apple orchard in the Other world and bees would bring her nectar to the earth. Celtic legends says that she turned humans into bees as a punishment for their crimes. The Welsh goddess Rhiannon was said to have been transformed into a bee after she died.

Roman Mythology

According to the Romans, Jupiter gave the bee its sting so it could defend its honey. Legends says that Juno, his wife saw the

as a valuable weapon and insisted the bees repay Jupiter in some way. That’s why bees die when they sting you.

Egyptian Mythology

Photo by Alejandro Quintanar: https://www.pexels.com/photo/hieroglyphs-in-stone-4448564/

The bee was the emblem of lower Egypt, also known then as ´place of the bee´ in ancient times. It´s King, Menes, was known as ´The Beekeeper´. Bees were symbolic for the giver of life, birth, death and resurrection. According to Egyptian myths, the sun god Ra´s tears transformed into honeybees when they touched the desert after falling from the sky. Therefore the Egyptians saw the bees as the dogs messengers that delivered messages from the heavens.

Spiritual Meaning

People have considered bees a sacred symbol of the divine for centuries. Their ability to create order out of chaos, to pollinate and bring forth fruit and their instinctual way of living has always been seen as a metaphor for the spiritual path.

Honey is thought to help the individual achieve spiritual growth. In some traditions, it is used in rituals to help the individual connect with the divine. Often seen as a symbol of peace, purity, and joy, bees also symbolize creation and fertility.

To this day people worldwide use bees in rituals and ceremonies. In India, people often perform a honey ceremony when someone is transitioning into a new phase of life to receive guidance and support from the divine. They believe it contains the wisdom and secrets of the universe.

Bee symbols are common in spiritual traditions around the world. Some traditions see a bee also symbolic of death and rebirth. This may be because bees die every winter and are reborn each spring.

Ultimately, bees represent the mystery of life and its many transformations. They remind us that even in times of chaos and difficulty, there is always something to be found that can bring order and healing.

Bees are also often seen as a symbol of resurrection and rebirth. This is because they make honey from flowers, which die in the winter but come back to life in the spring.

The bee is also a symbol of hard work and industry. This is because they work tirelessly to make honey and build their hives. In some cultures, bees are even seen as a symbol of royalty or power.

Religious Meaning

In many cultures, bees symbolize the soul. Hindus associate the bee with Krishna, the god of love, while for Christians bees symbolize chastity and celibacy. In Islam, bees symbolize wisdom and knowledge. For Mormons the beehive was a symbol of harmony, cooperation, and work for the early pioneers of the Church.

Cultural Meaning

Bees have a long history of being used in art and literature. They were often used in pottery and mosaics In ancient Greece.

During the Middle Ages, bees were often used as a symbol of Christianity. In Renaissance art, they were often used to represent purity and chastity. Today, bees are still used in art and literature. They are often used to symbolize nature, industry, and hard work.

Bees are also a popular motif in tattoos, symbolizing strength, courage, and determination. Bees are also used as a symbol of political power. In Napoleon’s France, for example, the bee was seen as a symbol of the French Empire.

Today, bees are still used as symbols by a variety of organizations and groups. The most famous example is probably the United States National Park Service, which uses a bee in its logo to represent pollinators. The Freemasons teach that the beehive is emblematic of industry and that all created beings should live by the virtues that bees represent.

In Native American culture, bees symbolize sweetness and hard work. They associate bees with communication and community, while some tribes consider them healers.

The Maori people of New Zealand believe that bees are the link between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Australian Aborigines believe that bees are the spirits of their ancestors.

Some African cultures believe that a visitation by a swarm of bees is a message from the ancestors who would like the family to do something for them. Other tribes see a swarm of bees in the yard as a symbol of the ancestors bringing luck to the family.

Bee Sayings Explained

To make a beeline for something” – This phrase describes going straight towards something, probably because  bees always fly in a straight line when they are going back to their hive.

Bee’s knees” – This phrase means that something is the best. It likely comes from the fact that bees are essential for making honey, which is very sweet and delicious food.

Sting like a bee” – This phrase means to hit someone with all of your strength. It likely comes from the fact that bees can sting people, and their stings can be quite painful.

Busy as a bee” – This phrase means that someone is very busy. It likely comes from the fact that bees are always busy working to make honey and build their hives.

To have a bee in your bonnet” – This phrase means to be obsessed with something or to have an idea that won’t go away. It likely comes from the fact that bees are always buzzing around, and they can be quite annoying.

To put the bee on someone” – This phrase means to ask someone for money. It likely comes from the fact that bees make honey, which is a sweet food that people enjoy eating.

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