Good morning friends,
Hope all is well where you are! I am happy to report that I’ve listed some new art in my etsy shop, including prints and notecards featuring my latest painting— The Bride and the Bees.
This piece was inspired by an old European folklore tradition of “telling the bees” when anything momentous happened in the family. When a death, a marriage, a birth or anything else so important happened in a family, someone had to ‘tell the bees’ in order to keep them happy and healthy, as they would be very offended if they weren’t kept in the loop! A hive might die or leave completely if the family failed to tell them about important events, especially if the ‘master or mistress’ had passed away.
I thought this was such an interesting bit of old lore and have wanted to make a painting inspired by it (and I’m not the first to feel this way! It was a favorite subject of the Victorians!) but of course I wanted to make it a more happy subject.
In that spirit, I chose to paint a bride ‘telling the bees’ that she was off to church to be married. The bees are buzzing around their old fashioned skep, and her Tudor style English home is just up the path.
The first time I ever heard of this tradition was on the U.K. period drama “Larkrise to Candleford” (high five if you love it too!) One of the main characters on the show about life in rural England in the Victorian era was Queenie, and she was the village bee keeper. At one point Queenie thinks her bumbling husband is dead, and rushes to tearfully ‘tell the bees.’
Thankfully, it all ends up alright, but it was an interesting way to share this old folk custom, and I admit, I fell head over heels with Queenie and her cottage garden dedicated to her beloved bees. I am also a bit fascinated by bees and the process of keeping bees…..I keep bees in mind when creating my own garden, and am happy to see honey bees come my way. My neighbor keeps several honey bee hives in his yard (although they are the modern variety, not the cute skeps of old!) and I’m always thrilled at the prospect of my own flowers going into this very local honey.
If you search online with the phrase ‘tell the bees’ you will find all sorts of interesting information and images. Strangely, most of the art I’ve seen on the subject seems to revolve around telling the bees about death, but those Victorians did like to get a little maudlin from time to time.
Some of the traditions around ‘telling the bees’ also involved decorating— if there was a death, the bee skeps would have a ‘bit of black’ put on them, or be completely shrouded. If a wedding was happening, a piece of cake was offered to them (perhaps as thanks for raiding the skep for sweetener for wedding desserts).
Sometimes there were even certain ways you’d have to go about telling the bees your big news, either by whispering, singing, or doing either— but it had to rhyme!
I think it’s an absolutely fascinating bit of bee lore, and perhaps I’ll take up talking to bees when they buzz by this spring….maybe that will inspire them to help me get a good peach harvest this summer? It wont be too much longer now and the trees will be in blossom…
I also think that this painting of mine would be a unique gift for weddings or engagements, and am offering it as a print and a notecard! The print measures 8×10″ and the notecard measures 5×7″, so it is very frameable too! Perhaps you know of a bride who has a love of bees? Well, we’ve found the perfect gift, haven’t we?
In addition to “The Bride and the Bees” I also have new prints of my original piece “Making Bread.” You’ll find all these things in the shop now!
Well, I must run for the moment, I’m still working on sketching things and still very inspired by all things French! Hope you have a wonderful day, and hope to see you again soon!~
Wanna read more about ‘telling the bees?’ Here’s some links: