Keeping Bees Informed

“Some years since, observes a correspondent of the Athenaeum, a gentleman at a dinner table happened to mention that he was surprised, on the death of a relative, by his servant inquiring ‘whether his master would inform the bees of the event, or whether he should do so’. On asking the meaning of so strange a question, the servant assured him that bees ought always to be informed of a death in the family, or they would resent the neglect by deserting the hive. One of the party present took the opportunity of testing the prevalence of this strange notion, by inquiring of a cottager who had lately lost a relative, and happened to complain of the loss of her bees, ‘whether she had told them all she ought to do?’ She immediately replied, ‘Oh yes : when my aunt died I told every skep [hive] myself, and put them into mourning’.”

John Brand, Observations On The Popular Antiquities Of Great Britain: Including The Whole Of Mr. Bourne’s Antiquitates Vulgares (1777)

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