Bees in Art

Man’s relationship with and enjoyment of the bees goes back literally thousands of years.  Not surprisingly,  bees are found in art throughout the ages, as artisans pay tribute to and celebrate them.   As a lover of art myself, this site wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging this influence of the bees on cultures throughout the world and throughout history.

Man of Bicorp

Shown here is the depiction from ancient cave paintings in eastern Spain.  In this image, the man is holding onto lianas to gather honey from a beehive.  This artwork is estimated to be  8000 years old (6000 bce).

Ancient Egyptian Beekeeping

Beehives in the tomb of Pabasa - Valley of the Queens. © Dr. Kenneth J. Stein Photography

The honey bee, which was the symbol of lower Egypt, figured prominently in Ancient Egyptian culture.  According to lore, Ra, God of the Sun, created honeybees from his tears.  Priests used honey in rituals and it was offered as a sacrifice to Gods.  This tomb painting, from 2400 BCE, depicts a beekeeper next to stacked, clay hives.  Other tomb paintings depict beekeepers fanning smoke into hives and filling clay pots with honey.  There are a plethora of depictions with bees from Ancient Egypt — too many to show here — so I encourage a visit to this site for more art and a ton of great information!  The Ancient Egyptians also used beeswax in art (as well as for industry & medicine).  This sculpture of Ramses XI made of beeswax and found in the Luxor Museum in Egypt, was excavated from KV4, the unfinished tomb of Ramses XI in the Valley of Kings.  Ramses XI lived from 1099-1069 BCE, over a thousand years later than the tomb paintings shown above.

Bees and the Minoans

 

Like the Ancient Egyptians, the Ancient Greeks reveled in the bees.