Rural Britons of the beekeeping set traditionally keep the bees up to date on family births, deaths, marriages and important world events. Perhaps we should all adopt this charming custom instead of blasting it all onto social media. [via]
The practice of telling the bees may have its origins in Celtic mythology that held that bees were the link between our world and the spirit world. So if you had any message that you wished to pass to someone who was dead, all you had to do was tell the bees and they would pass along the message. Telling the bees was widely reported from all around England, and also from many places across Europe. Eventually, the tradition made their way across the Atlantic and into North America.
The typical way to tell the bees was for the head of the household, or "goodwife of the house" to go out to the hives, knock gently to get the attention of the bees, and then softly murmur in a doleful tune the solemn news. Little rhymes developed over the centuries specific to a particular region. In Nottinghamshire, the wife of the dead was heard singing quietly in front of the hive—"The master's dead, but don't you go; Your mistress will be a good mistress to you."
Can't help but suspect that "telling the bees" is a form of evolved self-therapy.