(The Witches Familiar)
and compiled by George Knowles
The common Honeybee is a subset of bees belonging to the insect order Hymenoptera
(of the genus group Apis
and represents just a small fraction of approximately 20,000 known species of
bees. Honeybees are distinguished
from other bees by their production of honey and the construction of colony
nests (hives) out of beeswax. While
there are other types of bees that also produce honey, only members of the genus
are true Honeybees.
The Honeybee is a highly social insect that survives
only as a member of a colony. A
colony is typically made up of three types of bees called castes, which include:
Queen bees (the reproductive females), Worker bees (sterile female bees)
and Drones (the male bees). Each
caste or type of bee is associated with a different function within the colony,
and each possesses unique differences geared to maintaining the needs and
structure of the colony.
The Queen bee is the only sexually productive female
in the colony. After mating with the
Drones, sperm finds its way into a small sac-like organ located in her abdomen
called the ‘spermatheca’.
From this her capacity for laying eggs becomes quite prolific, producing
in excess of 1,500 eggs in a day. She
can also control the sex of her offspring, for when an egg passes from the ovary
to the oviduct, depending on the needs of the colony, she may or may not choose
to fertilise it with sperm. Those
that do get fertilised develop into female bees, either as Queen bees or Workers
bees, while unfertilised eggs develop as the male Drone bees.
Eggs are laid in individual cells of the hive and hatch within three
days, after which the larvae is fed on ‘royal jelly’ for two days (a
substance secreted by the worker bees that is high in protein),
and then on pollen, nectar or honey. Each
of the hundreds of larvae must be fed many times a day, and to achieve this the
Queen bee and her Worker bees operate as a team.
The development of Queen bees from egg to larvae to adult, takes 16 days,
while Worker bees take 21 days, and Drones 24 days.
The Queen bee has a longer body and larger abdomen than other bees in the
colony and can measure up to 20mm. She
also has a curved, smooth stinger that can be used repeatedly throughout her
life. In contrast, the Worker bees
have a straight, barbed stinger that when used remains firmly anchored in the
flesh of its victim. When trying to
withdraw the stinger from its victim, the Worker bee in effect tears away part
of its abdomen and as a result dies shortly afterwards.
Within the colony, Worker bees far outnumber the
Drones, which typically during the spring can number from 8,000 to 15,000, by
the early summer however, this number can grow to as many as 80,000.
Worker bees born early in the spring season usually live for about 6
weeks, while those born in the late autumn will survive through the winter until
the following spring. Unlike many
other species of bees, Honeybees do not hibernate through the winter.
The average lifespan of a Queen bee can range from one to eight years.
Young Worker bees are called ‘house bees’ and are employed mainly in
constructing the hive. While lacking
the ability to mate and reproduce, they secrete wax, which is used to build and
maintain the honeycomb structure of the hive.
They are also kept busy converting nectar and pollen into honey, rearing
the brood, tending to the Queen and Drones, cleaning and when necessary
defending the hive.
As the young develop, the older Worker bees become known as ‘field
bees’, and leave the hive to forage outside gathering nectar, pollen and water
needed to sustain the colony. Worker
bees measure up to about 12 mm and are highly adapted for the work they do.
They have a structure called a pollen basket (or corbiculum)
on each hind leg, an extra stomach for storing and transporting nectar and
pollen, and four pairs of special glands that secrete wax on the underside of
The field bees bring in nectar from many flowers and on entering the hive
with a full honey sac, regurgitate the contents into the mouths of the young
Worker bees who then deposit the nectar in a cell and carry out the tasks
necessary to convert it to honey. When
the honey is fully ripened or thickened, the cell is sealed with an airtight wax
capping and stored for winter supplies.
is the principal source of protein, fat, minerals and vitamins, and is essential
for the growth and development of the colony.
Besides gathering and storing food for the colony, the Worker bees are
also responsible for maintaining the hive at 34° C (93° F), the optimum
temperature required for hatching the Queen’s eggs and rearing the brood.
When a hive becomes too hot they collectively ventilate it by fanning their wings,
and during cool weather will cluster tightly together in the hive to generate
The Drone bee has only one function in the colony, and that is to mate
with the new Queen bees. Mating
takes place out in the open air away from the hive, after which the Drone bee
dies. Recent studies of their mating
habits have established that the Queen bee usually mates with six or more Drones
in the course of a few days. Drones
are active in the colony during the spring and summer months, but as autumn and
the colder weather approaches they are driven out of the hive by the Worker bees
and left to die.
The importance of Honeybees to agriculture is now well established, as
more than 50 cultivated food crops require them for pollination.
Crops that are either entirely dependent on insect pollination, or
produce more abundantly because of them, include:
fruit crops (such as - almonds, apples, apricots etc.); and seed crops
(such as - alfalfa, asparagus, broccoli etc.).
It is estimated that the value of the pollinating service rendered by
Honeybees far outweighs that of the Honey and Beeswax they produce.
Mythology and Symbolism.
In Egyptian mythology Honeybees were born from the tears of Râ,
the Sun God. When he cried his tears
fell onto the soil of the earth and were transformed into bees that built
honeycombs and produced honey. Bees
were also associated with the Egyptian Great Mother Goddess Neith who ruled over hunting and warfare.
Her cult was
centred in the town of Sais
(modern Sa al-Hajar) where her temple
was known as per-bit
- meaning “the house of bees”.
the rulers of ancient Egypt were associated with bees.
Before the union of Upper and Lower Egypt (circa 3200 BC), the ruling
Kings of Lower Egypt used the title bit
- meaning “he of the bee”, whereby the Kings of Upper Egypt used the title nesw
- meaning “he of the sedge”. Later
after the union, the new rulers used the title nesw-bit
- meaning “he of the sedge and the bee”, which has been translated as
“King of Upper and Lower Egypt”.
bees were of great importance. In
domestic use, Honey, the main product of bees, was a principal sweetener in
their diets and used as a base for medicinal ointments.
Honey was also regarded as a symbol of resurrection, and thought to give
protection against evil spirits. Small
pottery flasks found in the tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamun contained hieroglyphic
indicating that they originally contained honey.
They also collected beeswax, which was used to make decorative moulds, as
well as a paint-varnish.
In ancient Greece situated on the southern slopes of Mount Parnassus, Delphi was the location of the famous oracle temple of Apollo. Inside the temple is the “Omphalos”, a decorated beehive shaped stone covered with what look like sculpted engravings of Honeybees. This was used as a symbol indicating that Delphi in Greece was the centre of the world. Pythia, Apollo’s chief oracle priestess was also known as the Delphic Bee.
In many ancient cultures, Mead made from honey was believed to be the
immortal drink of the Gods. In Greek
mythology it was associated with the Gods of Olympus, and a symbol
of Knowledge, Learning and Wisdom. As
a food resource, it was reserved only for the elected, the initiated and
exceptional people. It has been
reported that Pythagoras ate nothing but honey throughout his entire life.
Because of their industrious and organized behaviour, Honeybees are seen
as a symbol of Perseverance, Unity and Teamwork.
They are also seen as a symbol of sacredness, being associated with the
Mother Goddess or Divine Feminine. Ruled
by the Queen bee, the hive is likened to the womb of the Great Mother.
In Celtic myths, Honeybees are endowed with great
wisdom, and thought to be spirit messengers between worlds.
Honey was treated as a magical substance and used in many ancient
rituals. As the food of the Gods,
the use of honey, royal jelly, bee pollen and beeswax in ritual was seen as a
sacred and magical act connected to the divine blessings of the Goddess and God.
Today the common term “Blessed Be” can also be
written as “Blessed Bee”, which has a strong connection to the ancient Craft
of the Wise, and therefore the divine blessing of love, protection and
Myth and Magic - Edited by Richard Cavendish
Plus other websites too many to mention.
Best wishes and Blessed Be
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
A Universal Message:
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
Wicca & Witchcraft
Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek
Mythology) / Esbats &
Full Moons / Links
to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft
Resources / What's a spell? /
Circle Casting and
Sacred Space / Pentagram
- Pentacle / Marks
of a Witch / The Witches
Power / The Witches Hat
esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism
Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1
/ Part 2 / Part
3 / A
history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope
Innocent VIII /
papal Bull /
Malleus Maleficarum /
An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum
/ The letter of approbation
Nider’s Formicarius /
Heinrich Kramer /
/ Montague Summers /
/ The Albigenses
The Hussites / The
/ Shielding (Occult
and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Rituals:
Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder. Also see: The Willow Tree (Folk Music)
Rocks and Stones:
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin: / Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murder by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders and Elders)
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A. Kelly / Albertus Magnus “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary / Carl Llewellyn Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Dorothy Morrison / Doreen Valiente / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry / Fiona Horne / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gerald B. Gardner / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater "Horrible Herman" / Israel Regardie / James "Cunning" Murrell / Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) / John Michael Greer / John Score / Johannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg / Karl von Eckartshausen / Laurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata / Monique Wilson the “Queen of the Witches” / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellers / Mrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /Rudolf Steiner / Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids / Sabrina - The Ink Witch / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather / Thomas Ady / Vera Chapman / Victor Henry Anderson / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest
Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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