Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bees and the Birds (Api e Uccelli)

Do you ever stop and think about bees?

I don't usually but I was prompted to as I was doing a bit of late night sleep-inducing reading through 'Georgics', a relatively new bestseller* by Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil).

*relatively, in geological time

Whilst he was busy making his 2000 year old points about how weather can affect a hive, I started thinking about how hot it gets here in the Texas summers. Do their wax cells give way and the bees all ride out in a tsunami of hot honey and melted wax? Is this one reason there seem to be fewer bees now? Does 'hot honey and melted wax' sound like an adult film title?

These and other questions were now keeping me awake, thoroughly counteracting the tranquilizing effect the book had on me just moments before.

I guess people have been using the fruits of bee labor for a while now. After artisans of thousands of years ago painted fresco walls, Vitruvius recommended using wax mixed with olive oil over it. I do this for all my pompeii style frescoes.
Wax seemed to have many uses back in antiquity, as an adhesive additive, flavorless and odor free chewing gum, a disinfectant, a carving medium for bronze casting, the list goes on.

I like to eat honey, particularly over Greek style yogurt for breakfast, what about you guys? Greek legend said that Pythagoras (the triangle dude for the geometrically challenged) ate only honey.

The symbolism of bees is ever present through history, sometimes at the highest levels. Napoleon used it on his coat of arms, and before him the Merovingian (French) monarchs going way back to mid fifth century. Even the Egyptians used the bee symbol as a hieroglyph and to indicate lower Egypt.

The ancient Greeks at Delphi had a beehive shaped stone that the priestess sat in front of as she alledgedly divined the future (some scholars indicated she was refered to as the 'bee of Pythia'). To digress, I've actually seen that stone. Not the original one, which hasn't been seen in years, but the replacement ordered from the Omphalos Store (tm).

Near Valencia in Spain a cave drawing made before recorded history was found with remarkable detail, especially for back then without Photoshop or Etch-a-Sketches or anything.

For more interesting esoteric bee-and-honey-in-antiquity knowledge and postulations, check out Andrew Gough. He draws an interesting link between bulls, bees, and stars, and there's even a Latin lesson in there somewhere.

While you are doing all of that, I might go have a Michelob Honey Wheat or two, you know, like Pythagoras would have done. But if I'm in a hurry, maybe a Mickey's?

ps - Is it just me or is there a resemblance between beer and honey?


  1. Wow, things I have not given much attention to at all. I'd sure love to ride a tsunami of hot honey and melted wax. That sounds freaking awesome.

  2. So, bees actually maintain the inside of the hive at a constant temperature (37 deg C, like our bodies, I bee-lieve). No matter how hot it gets in Texas, the bees will actually die before they let the hive temperatures change. of the main characters in my big, fancy, epic book has a symbol of three bees, and the motto of their house is "Beware my Sting". They were one of my favorite families to flesh out their history, which, given what happens to them...*sighs*

  3. The only time i think about bees is when I start to worry about the world ending and how the existence of this teeny tiny creature is important to all of us.

    big game this weekend, huh? Hook 'em Horns!!! (the only time i make the downwards bevo (sp?) symbol is when they play my OSU Cowboys...)

  4. Cheeseboy,
    I know, if only there was a bee / honey related theme park.

    Ha, bee-lieve. Wow, so they flap their little wings and keep it cool. If not, it's like a 'honey-Ganges' river?
    BTW, when can I purchase these epic books you keep talking about?

    Yes, it's a bit scary that we have always bee-n so dependent on them.
    Yep, I can see the Cotton Bown right now from high atop my 48th floor office. There will be partying with various and sundry hijinks this weekend. Hey congrats on the Aggie win! Aggies are playing quite a bit better this year and OSU still won.

  5. congrats on your goddess award! came from her site to say hi - nice documented post!

  6. Excellent the way your connections circulate us through time. I have heard the bees are suffering because of GMO plants, and from seedless plants. You can find out more from google.

    On a lighter note, I gave you one of my weekly goddess awards for a blog well done. You can collect it anytime you want. Happy blogging!

  7. OJ Gonzalez-Cazares,
    Thanks, and welcome here any time.

    Everyday Goddess,
    Thanks for the award! I'll be by shortly.
    Good point about the modified plants, I'll check those stories out.

  8. I was reading up on bees in Scotland, where they produce Heather honey from the bush Heather. It was very interesting how they take the bees to the highlands and release them for a few short weeks of the whole year.

    I never thought about all the things the ancients used wax for, that's neat.

  9. Hi Heather,
    That is interesting about how they do it differently in Scotland. I'm thinking about taking a sailing vacation up there soon. Maybe I'll buy some honey?
    Say, where did your blog go? I think my address for you is wrong now.


    I changed it a few months back to the name of my blog. When I started my blog, I had no clue what I was doing. I thought I got around to everyone to tell them, sorry if I didn't get to you.

  11. Ha ha...and OSU still won. I like that comment...they barely pulled boys go against LA stuff.

    was disapointed that y'all let OU win...but I hope you went to the fair...and took pictures of some roosters!

  12. Hi Eric, I saw your comment reg.the cma, why do you say that? are you registered...? please let me know

  13. Heather,
    Your link is updated!

    No roosters, just cheerleader photos! :)

    Mosaicista Appassionata,
    Your work and knowledge / appreciation for mosaic history are great. Never mind that you live where all the nice history is.
    I'm registered on CMA, and if you want an invite let me know and I'll get that to you right away.

  14. One of my favorite beers is a honey lager from Canada. Can't find it anywhere here!

  15. I love mead. It's a very smooth way of imbibing alcohol.

    Hi Eric

  16. Nikki,
    That is bad when you find something in a different country and it would be a hassle to start your own import country. I mean, what would I do with an entire cargo container full of beer. Hmmm.

    Mead!!! I completely forgot about that. A trip to the liquor shop is in order. :)

  17. Well when you're the trunk of you car and pray you don't get searched. It worked well before 9/11.