In Western Europe and areas of the United States inhabited by Western Europeans, there used to be a custom known as “Telling the Bees,” wherein a person would talk to the bees kept by the estate/household of any important developments, especially deaths. Failure to do so, or to put the beehives in mourning for the death of the master by draping them with black fabric, was believed to cause the bees to stop producing honey or even leave.
I have no real basis to suggest that the falling away of this custom has anything to do with the mass deaths of bees, especially when we know of so many physical causes for it, but there is no harm in trying to revive it to support bees.
This is a fairly simple ritual, one which may hardly qualify as such, but I do recommend trying it when conditions are right.
Tools and Ingredients-
Candles- Blue, Purple and Yellow These colors are both mundanely attractive to bees, and have useful correspondences for the purpose of the ritual, Blue represents communication, wisdom, good fortune and removing bad vibrations; Purple represents influence, spiritual power, contacting spirits and driving away evil; and Yellow represents persuasion, charm, success and the air element. You could use Gold, which has useful correspondences such as abundance, prosperity and attraction, and should be close enough as to still act as a mundane attractor to bees.
Local Honey Bees, for fairly obvious reasons, are attracted to honey. To the point that if you leave it outside, it can harm the hive as bees will take the easy meal rather than gathering honey for the hive. Make sure to use local honey for this, as honey could introduce harmful bacteria that the area bees aren’t resistant to, and make sure you don’t leave it out after your ritual.
Flowers, Herbs, etc- Bee Pollen, Clover, Geranium, Mint, Catnip/Nepeta, local Wildflowers These herbs and flowers (bee pollen is sort of an herb, I suppose) are (nearly) all, like the candles, useful in the ritual and some are mundane attractors of bees as well. Bee Pollen corresponds to friendship and attraction; Clover to blessings and protection of animals; Geranium to promoting protection and happiness (also repelling insects, but bees like it, so…); Mint to energy, communication and vitality; Catnip to enhancing happiness and protection. Local wildflowers are a good mundane attractor to local bees.
The above sigil, TLHBS
Candles with scents of the specified herbs
The specified herbs and flowers planted and live, rather than dead/dried/cut
The sigil traced in local honey on a plate
Mint or clover tea with local honey
Start by choosing a time conducive to bee activity. There is no use trying to attract bees in a snowstorm in the dead of winter. Even if it worked, it’d be extremely cruel to the bees. Early morning and late afternoon, when it’s warm but not hot, is best. Probably Spring and Summer are best. Also, find a comfortable place outside, in grass, perhaps with flowers or other flowering plants nearby. Shade is either desirable or undesirable dependent of the ambient temperature. If it’s hot outside, bees, especially bumblebees, will seek shade, but if it’s merely warm out, it might be too cold for the bees in the shade.
Place the honey in a shallow dish, light the candles and spread the herbs around the sigil.
Sit down, and quietly recite- “Little bees come to me and hear all that I might tell, for we are all in debt to thee and perish we would if you did fell.”
Then just sit quietly and peacefully. You can drink your tea or mead, and maybe read, especially the newspaper, and just wait for bees to come. When they do, greet them and talk to them quietly. Tell them what is going on in your life or the area, feel free to ask them questions.
Spend as long as you wish, make sure when you decide to finish to blow out and clean up the candles, take any tea, honey, or mead you brought with you, and so on. Herbs and plants biodegrade, so it wouldn’t really be a problem to leave them if you desire.
Can’t get enough of the hive slo-mos. Check out the incoming bees with pollen on their legs, also known as pollen pants.
Pollen, the honeybee’s main source of protein, plays a crucial role in ensuring that a hive is rearing young. And obviously all types of plants—many of which we depend on for our own food supply—benefit from the cross-pollination that bees and other pollinators facilitate.
You’re probably familiar with honeybee-style pollination: bees enter flowers to drink sweet nectar, the accidentally pick up up pollen and then transfer it to another flower. But many plants rely on buzz-pollinators instead. Bumblebees repurpose their flight muscles to vibrate pollen loose:
The bee bites down at the base of the anther, leaving little marks called bee kisses. She “unhooks” her flying muscles from her wings so she can contract them without taking flight. Then she begins to vibrate violently, a behavior scientists call sonication.
The vibrations travel through her soft body to the flower and shake up the pollen grains trapped inside anthers. When she buzzes hard enough, the pollen shoots out of the top and covers the bee. The bumblebee grooms herself, combing the pollen down and mixing it with saliva. She stores the pollen in sacs stuck to her legs as she makes her rounds.
The bumblebees actually eat the pollen as a source of protein - so the flowers who partner with them are undertaking a risky evolutionary gamble. Read more about it here.
Eastern shooting star, Shooting star, Prairie pointers (Primula meadia, syn. Dodecatheon meadia). The stamens form a narrow tube in Shooting stars so bees have developed a vibrating technique to shake the pollen out of the tube. Shooting stars used to be a common North American prairie flower. Photos by Steven Severinghaus and Tom Potterfield.
The other day when I was doing yard work a giant carpenter bee was struggling to get pollen out of the flowers of a magnolia tree I was working under because it kept slipping out of the petals and when it got tired it perched itself on my hat until it was ready to go again. I feel blessed by the bee.