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:
6 thoughts on “New Art: The Bride and the Bees”
I loved this so much. Have you heard of St. Rita of Cascia and her affinity for bees? You should read up on her. The hive moved itself from her home to the convent where she moved. Her story is pretty heroic. The same colony is still there, at her convent and the window where her cell was. I think you’d like the story. Than you for this. I loved it!
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I havent heard that story! How wonderful! Thank you for sharing it with me! And so glad you like the painting 🙂
I read the folk lore about bees awhile back,but don’t remember where I read it. Your painting with the bride telling the bees is wonderful.
Years ago I bought a large straw bee skep and put it in my flower garden. It looked so pretty there, but, honestly, I don’t know what I would have done if it would have gotten hornets, or even regular bees in it. Luckily, the bees around here are more modern and prefer modern hives.
Thanks to Kaiserswest for telling us about St. Rita of Cascia and her affinity for bees.
Larkrise to Candleford was an excellent series.
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Yes, skeps look so pretty out in the garden! I made a fake one a couple of years back, it was darling but it didnt survive the season!
Count me in as another fan of Queen in Larkrise to Candleford too!! Her relationship to her bees was the first time I had ever heard of the connection. Perhaps is in not really lore, but somehow a real thing as described by Kaiserwest above. Totally fascinating!! It seems in my yard the big Bumblebees are more prevalent than the Honey bees, although they do come. My bumblebees are especially fond of the big pink azaleas and I can see them right outside my window on the bush below. I wonder if they would have an affinity like honey bees for their owner and hive, like described in lore?
Your painting is beautiful and I love the all of the other old paintings of people with their bees that you shared. My favorite is the man sitting on a bench in front of his hives with his pipe and a pensive and friendly aura about him. Just sitting a spell and talking things over with his bees. Maybe this might be a 2020 solution for angst amid our faced paced tech lifestyle? I love that thought!
Thanks again for another interesting and engaging post today!
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Thanks so much, Winnie and so glad you like it! Yes, sitting out with the bees sounds much preferred to the craziness in our world right now!