Bee symbolism and meanings include focus, dedication, hard work, teamwork, fertility, prosperity, and generosity. Because bees exist on every continent on Earth except Antarctica, they are subjects in the mythology and folklore of many cultures around the world. In addition, the bee spirit animal appears in the spiritual belief systems of a number of cultures, both ancient and new.
Table of Contents
- What do bees symbolize?
- Detailed Bee Symbols and Meanings
- Bee Symbols and Meanings in Mythology and Folklore
- Native American Bee Meanings
- Bees in Mayan Culture
- Celtic Bee Meaning
- Bees in Greek Mythology
- Bee Symbolism in the Bible
- Bee Symbolism in Ancient Egypt
- African Folklore About Bees
- Bees in Islam
- Bee Symbolism in China
- Bee Meaning in Hinduism
- Bee Symbolism in Buddhism
- Bee Spirit Animal
- Bee Power Animal
- Bee Totem Animal
- Bee Dream Meanings
- Bee Tattoo Meanings
- How You Can Help Bees
What do bees symbolize?
- Hard Work
- Fertility and Life
Detailed Bee Symbols and Meanings
What does it mean when a bee buzzes around you or otherwise comes into your purview? Or, if the bee is your spirit animal, what does it say about you? Here are details on bee meanings and symbols:
Bees have to be extremely focused when it comes to pollinating flowers. But how do they know which flowers to pollinate? Scientists have discovered that bees actually sense electric fields that emanate from flowers.
In what seems like a miracle of nature, through these electric fields, bees can sense types of flowers as well as whether they are full of nectar or have just been visited by another bee. With experience, the bee knows where they must focus in order to get nectar and pollen.1 In addition, some bees, such as the rare Blue Calamintha Bee, focus only on select flowers.
The power of focus that bees possess reminds me of two famous quotes by Tony Robbins:
“Where focus goes, energy flows.”
“Most people major in minor things.”
Through thousands of years of evolution, the bee knows how best to focus their energy.
We’ve all heard of the “queen bee.” It’s a term used often to describe a woman who is the leader of her domain, business, or other endeavor. In the actual world of bees, the queen bee is the alpha female bee and the mother of all of the bees in her colony.
Needless to say, the worker bees in the colony are extremely dedicated to the queen bee, to the point they’re willing to die for her. They are the ultimate symbols of dedication to a cause that is greater than themselves.
The term “busy bee” is also inspired by the bee’s dedication. Bees are not layabouts. They have an uncompromising dedication to their purpose, and they pursue it with intensity. Thus, bees are powerful symbols for loving, learning, parenting, expanding a spiritual practice, working out, becoming an expert at a skill, or anything that blossoms with unrelenting dedication.
Like the term “queen bee,” we’ve all heard the term “worker bee.” In fact, bees are synonymous with the concept of working hard. Bees know they have a job to do and they’re going to do that job with zeal.
It can be hard to be human. Managing life can be a lot of work. What do you think it feels like to be a bee? They work even harder. If you ever feel put upon for having to work so hard, just remember the bees. Then get back to work.
If you still feel unmotivated, there’s another lesson the bees have for you. Bees work hard, but they get to be outside among the flowers. And their end products are more flowers and, in the case of honeybees – honey.
So, the bee is also a symbol of doing work you love and providing a product or service that you’re proud of. The first steps are knowing what you love, knowing what you’re interested in, and knowing what you’re good at. When you have a clear picture of what these things are, it will clue you in to your life’s purpose and finding fulfillment in your work.
Bees who live in colonies all perform important roles for the greater benefit of the colony. The queen bee lays eggs; drone bees fertilize the eggs; and worker bees gather pollen and nectar, feed the larvae, defend the colony, and even play a role in ventilating the colony. So, like wolves and elephants, bees are social creatures who also symbolize teamwork.
The bee spirit animal is a helpful reminder that no one is an island. If you’re going it alone, it could be time to enlist the help of others, whether they are experts, friends, family members, or people you hire to work for you. The bee reminds you to get the help you need.
In addition, joining an affinity club of some kind can bring big benefits. Whether it’s a self-help group, a sports team, volunteer work, or any other group endeavor where you join together with like-minded people, working with others can put some wind in your sails.
Fertility and Life
Over 250,000 species of plants depend on bees for pollination, including cotton, apples, blueberries, cucumbers, and others.2 Thus, bees are foundational for supporting life on Earth. Because of this, like rabbits, bees also symbolize fertility and life.
The presence of native bees signifies a healthy ecosystem. So, the bee is a helpful symbol to meditate on if you’re thinking of conceiving or simply want to bring more vitality and positive energy into your life. And naturally, native bees can bring abundance to your yard or garden.
As bees are symbols of hard work, they’re also symbols of prosperity. The Celts associated bees’ golden color with actual gold, and they even believed that you should pay for honey with gold coins.
As the busy bees work hard, they also produce honey. So, they remind you that with hard work comes rewards. But also remember to enjoy the fun and sweetness in life.
In a world where there are givers and takers, bees are givers. As mentioned earlier, bees are foundation for supporting life on Earth. Thus, these tiny beings are all about giving more than their fair share.
The concept of manifesting has become popular in New Age belief systems, where we visualize and focus on what we want in order to achieve certain outcomes. Visualization is powerful tool that everyone can benefit from.
Yet, it’s important to keep in mind what the spiritual teacher Wayne Dyer used to say. He said the Universe hears your prayers and wants to answer them. However, prayers that are always begin with “Gimme, gimme, gimme…” or I want, I want, I want… aren’t necessarily beneficial for your spiritual development or for the greater good.
Instead, Wayne’s philosophy was closer to the generosity of the bee. A bee’s prayer would be more like,
“How can I be of service to the greater good?”
“How can I walk in God’s light to do the best work for the world with the gifts I’ve been given?”
Generosity doesn’t just come in monetary form either. You can be generous with your time, your presence, your patience, your affection, and in so many other ways. A bee spirit animal mantra for starting your day could be, “How can I be helpful and giving to the world today?”
Bee Symbols and Meanings in Mythology and Folklore
Even before modern scientific thought, many people around the world had an uncanny understanding of the importance of bee. Hence, bees are the subject of many cultures’ myths and folklore. Here are some examples:
Native American Bee Meanings
While a native honey bee existed in North America 14 million years ago, for mysterious reasons, it went extinct. It wasn’t until colonists came to North America in the 1600s that another honey bee was introduced. The Native Americans called this bee the “white man’s fly.” However, this did not stop them from telling stories about bees.3
In one Cherokee legend, the bee symbolizes the sweetness of reward, but that greed comes with a price.
How the Bee Got Its Stinger
A long time ago, the people asked the Creator to give them something sweet to eat. Feeling indulgent, the Creator sent them some bees. At that time, bees did not have stingers because they didn’t need them. The bees happily set up a home in a tree where they could build their hive and produce honey to feed their young.
The people came to the tree to see them, and the bees graciously shared their honey with the people. The people loved it so much, they asked for more. So, the bees gave the people more honey. And the people kept asking for more. Eventually, the honey was all gone. Still, the people asked for more. The bees told the people they would have to wait.
The people didn’t like waiting, so they went to the Creator. Feeling generous, the Creator sent the flower people to Earth to create more wildflowers for the bees. As the flower people created more flowers, the bees created more honey, and they fed the people.
However, the people’s appetite for the honey was insatiable and the bees still couldn’t keep up with their demands. Exhausted, they went to the Creator for help. Annoyed at the people’s greed, the Creator gave the bees stingers and told them that when the people got greedy, they could sting them to keep them at bay.4
Bees in Mayan Culture
The ancient Mesoamericans were bee keepers, and honey was given as a sacred gift. They also believed that that the gods kept bees to make honey.
Ah Muzen Cab and Colel Cab
Ah Muzen Cab was the Mayan god who oversaw bees and honey. In fact, the ancient Mesoamericans often depicted him with the wings of a bee. The goddess Colel Cab was his counterpart. She was an Earth goddess who was also depicted with honey and bees.5
For the Mayans and Aztecs, bees and honey symbolized life.
Celtic Bee Meaning
Bee mythology and folklore have a long history in Celtic culture. The Celts considered bees to be spiritual beings, like butterflies, who could fluidly move between the natural and supernatural worlds. Thus, bees were seen as messenger from spirit guides.
The Celts made mead and cakes with honey, and they used beeswax for candles and other items. The Celts considered honey to be a sacred substance. Thus, they held bees in very high regard.
Telling the Bees
The Celts believed that bees must be treated respectfully, like family members, and that they must be kept abreast of important events in the family’s life. So, the Celts had a ritual of telling the bees about births, engagements, deaths, and other important happenings.
The Celts also believed that if a lone bee came into your house, it was a sign of good fortune coming your way. However, a swarm of bees settling on a dead branch meant someone you knew could die soon.6
As the Mayans viewed Colel Cab, the Celts associated their goddess Brigid with bees and honey.
Bees in Greek Mythology
The ancient Greeks also kept bees. And like the Celts, they viewed bees as messengers between the physical and spiritual worlds. In addition, honey was considered a nectar of the gods. In fact, Zeus, in particular was very fond of it.
Zeus, Melissa, and the Honeybees
When Zeus was born, his mother Rhea knew he would be a threat, so she must hide him. The problem was that her husband Kronos had a bad habit of eating his young to prevent any of his offspring from becoming a rival for his power. So, Rhea hid the baby Zeus in a cave in Crete, leaving him with the nymph Melissa to care for him.7
Melissa fed the baby Zeus honey and goat’s milk, so he grew to become strong and powerful. However, Kronos learned of Melissa’s deceit. Enraged, he turned her into an earthworm. Zeus, now powerful, took pity on Melissa and turned her into one of his beloved bees, honoring her with golden stripes.8
The Birds of the Muses
Bees not only nurtured Zeus, they were also believed to nurture famous Greek poets, such as Homer.
The muses, who were the Greek goddesses of the arts and sciences, were also closely associated with bees. In fact, the ancient Greeks called bees “the birds of the muses.” They also believed the muses could shapeshift into bees. In addition, they believed that when the muses put honey on poets’ lips, it enabled the poets to speak in beautiful verse.9
In the Hymn to Apollo, the god’s gift of prophecy was given to him from three bee goddesses, or muses. Furthermore, the high priestess of Apollo’s temple at Delphi was considered to be a bee goddess.10
Aristaeus was the Greek god of beekeeping. Naturally he was taught his craft by the muses.
Aristaeus fell in love with the nymph Eurydice, who was the wife of the musician Orpheus. Nevertheless, Aristaeus decided to pursue Eurydice.11 As he chased her, she stepped on a viper, which killed her instantly. When Eurydice’s sisters learned of her death, they punished Aristaeus by killing his bees.
Aristaeus was so distraught by the loss of all of his bees that he went to the sea god Proteus and begged him for help. Proteus advised Aristaeus to sacrifice some cattle in honor of Eurydice. When he did, bees flew out of the cattle’s dead bodies and back into Aristaeus’ bee hives.12 Thus, as in Celtic mythology, the Greeks viewed bees as an intermediary between the material and supernatural worlds.
Bee Symbolism in the Bible
Are bees mentioned in the Bible? Yes, they are, and so is honey. By some theories, honey symbolized the goodness, or sweetness, of God, Jesus, and the gospel.
In Judges 14:7-9, Samson is attacked by a lion, but the Holy Spirit fills him with the strength and he is able to defeat it. Then, when Samsun returns to the dead body of the lion, he turns it over and sees a swarm of bees and honey. So, Samson eats some of the honey, and then brings some to share with his parents.
Some religious scholars say the defeat of the lion symbolizes the power of God and the sharing of the honey symbolizes the spreading of the gospel.13
In the Jewish faith, it’s customary during Rosh Hashana to dip challah bread and apples in honey. For people of the Jewish faith, the honey symbolizes good luck and health for the new year.
In addition, in the Torah, there are references to the “land of milk and honey,” which describes an Earthly paradise where people will be nourished and prosperous.
Bees were also highly regarded in Christianity. The 4th century Catholic bishop St. John Chrysostom wrote about bees, “The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.” In addition, the columns in the
Altar of Confession at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City is decorated with honeybees, leaves, and flowers.14
Bee Symbolism in Ancient Egypt
In ancient Egypt, bees were sacred. The Egyptians said that bees were manifested when the sun god, Ra, wept, and his tears touched the desert sand. As did the Celts and Greeks, the Egyptians believed that bees carried messages to and from the spirit world.
Like butterflies in other cultures, for the Egyptians, bees helped to guide souls into the afterlife. Thus, they symbolized the cycle of life from birth to death to the afterlife.
African Folklore About Bees
The San People of the Kalahari Desert, which is in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa, have a creation legend about bees. In the story, a praying mantis wanted to cross a river that was turbulent with heavy currents so he could go home to his family. Taking pity on him, a generous bee offered to carry him across the river.
The journey was so arduous that a day and night passed and they still had not gotten across. The bee became so tired, she didn’t think she could make it across the river. So, when she saw a flower floating in the river, she landed on it. Fortunately, the flower floated to the other river bank.
The mantis was relieved to reach dry land. However, when he looked at the bee, he saw she had died from exhaustion. Saddened, he waited for the sun to rise to figure out what to do. When the same came up, he looked at the bee. However, the bee was gone and a tiny human being had taken her place. And this is how the first human was born, from the generosity and sacrifice of the bee.15
Bees in Islam
In Islam, the bee symbolizes godliness. Chapter 16 of the Quran is called an-Nahl, which translates to The Bee. In Islam, bees are described as Allah’s miracles, and Muslims are encouraged to learn from the hardworking dedication and generosity of bees.
Bee Symbolism in China
In China, bees symbolize ambition and the success that comes from hard work. In addition, bee colonies are symbolic of imperial courts. And the sting of the bee is representative of the discipline required to maintain order. Overall, the Chinese admire the industriousness of the bee and their dedication to the greater good of their colony.16
Bee Meaning in Hinduism
Bee symbolism and mythology is particularly vibrant in Hindu culture.
In Hindu mythology, a demon called Arunasura terrorized heaven and Earth. So, the gods called on the goddess Parvati to do something. Parvati transformed herself into the goddess Bhramari, who is the goddess of bees and hornets. And with her stingers, she destroyed the demon.17
For the Hindus, honey is a sacred nectar that is believed to bring health, happiness, and prosperity. Furthermore, honey was a symbol for the gods Vishnu, Krishna, and Indra, who are collectively referred to as the Mādhava.18 This name is derived from the Sanscrit word for honey – madhu. In fact, Krishna is sometimes depicted with a blue bee on his forehead. Furthermore, the Hindu god of live, Kamadev, is said to have a bow that is made with sugarcane that’s dipped in honey.19
Bee Symbolism in Buddhism
In Buddhism, there is a special day called Madhu Purnima, which translates to the Honey Full Moon Festival. Hence, in Buddhism, bees are credited with creating a gift held sacred by Buddha.
According to Buddhist lore, Buddha went on a retreat in the forest. While he was there, an elephant brought him fruit to live on. And on the day of the full moon, a monkey brought him honeycomb.
When Buddha received the honeycomb, the monkey was so ecstatic that he had accepted this gift that he leapt from tree branch to tree branch. However, in his haste, the monkey missed the last branch, and fell to his death. Appreciating the monkey’s generosity and taking pity on him, Buddha brought him back to life.20
Bee Spirit Animal
While they are small in stature, bees carry the weight of the world on their tiny shoulders. As pollinators, they are foundational for the Earth’s food system. Thus, when the bee spirit animal is your guide, you are one who takes your responsibilities seriously. You are a giver who always does and gives more than your fair share. It’s not in your nature to leave the work to someone else. Nor will you ever let your team down.
When a bee lands on you, crosses your path, or makes themselves known to you…
If a bee buzzes in front of you or comes into your house, pay attention. Likewise, if a bee or bees makes themselves known to you in another way – through art, literature, the media, or elsewhere, it can have special significance in your life. Thus, it’s worthwhile to consider bee symbolism and meanings, and what they can mean in your life. After all, bees have much to teach us, and as we learn about them, our consciousness expands.
Bee Power Animal
The bee power animal can be a helpful symbol to mediate on in situations where you need to be industrious to achieve your goals.
For example, you can meditate on the bee power animal when you:
- Need to not just work hard to achieve your goals, but you also need to work smart.
- When you want to attract the right helpers or teammates to be more effective and get the support you need.
- If you’re ready to have a baby, adopt, or be a foster parent.
- When you want to bring more vitality to your health and your environment.
- Hope to build more prosperity in your life.
Bee Totem Animal
The bee totem is a helpful symbol for manifesting things the bee symbolizes, including fertility, health and vitality, and prosperity. It’s also a good luck totem for being productive in your work and finding work that is fulfilling. Furthermore, the bee totem is also good luck for attracting people you have synergies with, so you can achieve your dreams.
Bee Dream Meanings
What does it mean when you dream of a bee or bees? Dreams and dream interpretations are personal, so there is never one cut and dry answer. However, analyzing the emotions you felt during the dream can shed light on what the dream is trying to tell you.
Bees are generally positive symbols for most people. Dreaming of bees can mean you want more vitality and prosperity in your life, and that with effort, you can achieve your goals. Dreaming of bees stinging could signify a wake-up call. It can be a sign that you need to pay more attention to something going on in your life that you’ve been too busy to give attention to.
Once you identify your feelings in the dream, and how you felt when you woke up, you can consider the different meanings applied to bees. Hopefully, this will give you new insights into how to approach an issue in your life.
Bee Tattoo Meanings
A bee tattoo or honey comb tattoo can be a life-affirming symbol that tells the world you value hard work and dedication to a cause. It can also mean that you are a work-hard and play-hard kind of person. Bee tattoos can also express that you care about nature and respect life on Earth. Hopefully some of the bee symbols and meanings you learned about in this post will bring more meaning to your bee tattoo.
How You Can Help Bees
Bees have been heavily impacted by the use of genetically modified seeds (GMOs), pesticides, and other insecticides to the point that we have lost over 60 percent of the honey bee population the U.S. alone. Bees are also impacted by natural habitat loss and the introduction of non-native plants and insects. If you care about bees, please do want you can to help them. You can learn more in my post about ways you can help bees, butterflies, and other insects.