St. Ambrose - The Honey Tongued Doctor

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From the Easter Series

St. Ambrose was born in Gaul in 340. There is a legend that as an infant, a swarm of bees settled on his face while he lay in his cradle, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father considered this a sign of his future eloquence and honeyed tongue. For this reason, bees and beehives often appear in the saint’s symbology.

The word for 'food of the gods' in Latin is ambrosia. Some scholars have speculated that ambrosia refers to honey or a honey-derived drink, such as mead (honey-wine). The title "Honey Tongued Doctor," initially bestowed because of his speaking and preaching ability, led to the use of a beehive and bees in his iconography, symbols which also indicate wisdom. This led to his association with bees, beekeepers, chandlers, wax refiners, etc.

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Happy Birthday ~ Abraham Lincoln

“I don't like to hear cut and dried sermons. No—when I hear a man preach,
I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.”
~Abraham Lincoln

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February 12, 2014 · 

Happy Birthday ~ Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln - Born February 12, 1809 
via: Historical Honeybee Articles - Beekeeping History
DID YOU KNOW?...Abraham Lincoln was "very fond of honey."

As a child in Indiana Abraham Lincoln was used to eating honey, and a biography quoted the following from a letter written shortly after his death: "Mr. Lincoln was very fond of honey. Whenever he went to Mr. Short's house he invariably asked his wife for some bread and honey. And he liked a great deal of bee bread in it. He never touched liquor of any kind." - 68. N. W. Branson to William H. Herndon. Petersburg Ill Aug 3. 1865

“I don't like to hear cut and dried sermons. No—when I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.”
― Abraham Lincoln

"It is an old and a true maxim, that a "drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall." So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great highroad to his reason,..." -Abraham Lincoln, Temperance Address of February 22, 1842 -Springfield, Illinois

Image: Abraham Lincoln photographed holding his glasses and a newspaper on August 9, 1863.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
Image: American Bee Journal, December, 1944
Image not related to article..
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circa. 1903 - Christmas Folklore in the Ozarks

At the birth of Christ on Christmas eve, the bees are said to stir in their hives and hum a great song of praise, but one must not disturb them, for, as they are careful not to intrude upon the celebrations of mankind, so man must not interfere with their celebration of the birth of the Christ child. Bees hummed the Old Hundredth Psalm at midnight. Several hives set together sent a satisfying praise booming far across the garden. 

The cattle in the byres joined the bees celebration of Christmas by turning to the east at midnight in imitation of the beasts at Bethlehem. Some believed they could also speak on this night and would bellow their adoration, but tradition was held that the animals must never be disturbed during the eve of Christmas. 

Some skeptics did not head the warnings. One Ozarks man closely watched his father's oxen but his father insisted that human observer broke the spell. Guernsey farmers provided extra hay but never dared to loiter to see it eaten. One did test his courage but the cowshed door slammed shut, he dropped dead and no one repeated the experiment. A Nova Scotia farmer heard his cattle say: "Tomorrow we'll be drawing wood to make our master's coffin." The shocked farmer dropped dead on the spot, and as late as 1928 no one on this farm went near the cattle on Christmas Eve. They were fed in the afternoon.

Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore,
and the Occult Sciences of the World (1903)
edited by Cora Linn Morrison Daniels, Charles McClellan Stevens
Page 1506

Discovering Christmas customs and folklore: 
a guide to seasonal rites - Page 25 
Margaret Baker - 1992

Happy Halloween!

Halloween: The Haunted History Of Beekeeping
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Pumpkin was Possessed by Bees

Caldwell, N. J. 1921. - Ted Farrand is a building inspector and an amateur pumpkin raiser. After the frost three nights ago he went out to the garden and selected a sixty-pounder which he brought into the kitchen.

"There's a little bit of a hole in this, Mary," He said to his wife. "I'm afraid it won't keep. So you'd better make some pies."

Well, it was along toward noon before Mrs. Farrand got around to it. By that time the big orange thing was all warmed up to the temperature of the kitchen, which was like that of the garden in August. She slipped a knife through the pumpkin and a swarm of bees flew out.

They flew all over the kitchen and all over Mrs. Farrand. She got allot of stings before she escaped and the bees flew out the window, and some of the marks of the stingers will be visible even when she is dressed for church next Sunday. Then all the congregation will know the story.

When the pumpkin was more closely examined after the departure of the bees it was found to contain nothing but honey. The Pies were great!

Happy Labor Day

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Sept. 4 - Labor Day (USA, Australia, Canada)
May 1 - International Workers Day 
(Russia and Asian Countries)
For centuries the image of a beehive was used to represent labour and industry. ~Follow:
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circa. 1780 Beehives representing industry under a protective roof outside a blacksmith's shop. From Bowles's Moral Pictures: or Poor Richards Almanack Illustrated.

The inscription says:
'He that hath a trade hath an estate. At the working man;s house hunger looks in, but dares not enter. Industry pays debts. while despair increases them.' -Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard Improved, 1758

The Poor Richards Almanack was founded by Ben Franklin in 1732 under the name of Richard Saunders; he continued to publish it for about 25 years. Combining entertainment, moral instruction and practical information, Poor Richard's Almanack proved both popular and profitable, and as the existence of this print attests, many of Franklin's maxims were passed down to later generations as sage advice for young people and are now classic Americana.


Fine Art America…/8-poor-richard-illustrated-gran…

Wiki - Poor Richards Almanack

American Treasures Library of Congress

Ursus Books

The Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice has been observed as an important date in beekeeping for over 2000 years.
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Read more to find out what the ancients have to say about winter and bees.

Aristotle says in Historia Animālium (History of Animals) Book IX 
 circa. 4 B.C.

"In healthy swarms the progeny of the bees only cease from reproduction for about forty days after the winter solstice."


Pliny the Elder says in Naturalis Historia (Natural History) 
circa. 77 - 79 AD

"From the winter solstice to the rising of Arcturus the bees are buried in sleep for sixty days, and live without any nourishment. Between the rising of Arcturus and the vernal equinox, they awake in the warmer climates, but even then they still keep within the hives, and have recourse to the provisions kept in reserve for this period."


Virgil says in Georgics, Book IV
circa. 29 B.C.E

"Contracto frigore pigrae."
"With cold benumbed, inactive they remain."


Image: Stonehenge - Winter Solstice 2014

John Burns - Gettysburg Veteran and Beekeeper

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On July 1, 1863, the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, Beekeeper. John Burns, at 69 years of age took up his flintlock musket and powder horn and walked out to the scene of the fighting that morning. He was wounded, but would suvive to become a national celebrity.

On November 19, 1863 -President Abraham Lincoln, gave one of the best-known speeches in American history. via: Historical Honeybee Articles - Beekeeping History
Part I -The Story of Beekeeper John Burns: A Gettysburg Civil War Hero.

Burns was a veteran of the War of 1812, became a 69-year-old civilian combatant with the Union Army at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. He was wounded, but survived to become a national celebrity. Burns's fame quickly spread when a poem about his exploits was published by Bret Harte in 1864. I put part one to the old English folk song; 'Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier'. The lyrics lament the sacrifices that men and women make in going off to war. The song was popular in America during the Revolutionary war, but it's origins I believe are unknown.

Part II - Civil War by Ken Burns; On This Date in History; at the dedication of the 'Soldiers National Cemetery' in Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln, gave one of the best-known speeches in American history.

Music in the video:
"Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier" is an American Revolutionary War version of a traditional Irish song. The lyrics lament the sacrifices that men and women make in going off to war. Men would help by going off to war and women would help by sacrificing men and selling goods to buy military supplies. This folk song was popular throughout the American Revolutionary War. Although we know what it meant its history is very mysterious and unknown.

Listen here:
Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier (With Lyrics)

Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier (Instrumental)

"Ashokan Farewell" is a piece of music composed by Jay Ungar in 1982. It has served as a goodnight or farewell waltz at the annual Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camps run by Ungar and his wife Molly Mason, who gave the tune its name, at the Ashokan Field Campus of SUNY New Paltz (now the Ashokan Center) in upstate New York. The tune was later used as the title theme of the 1990 PBS television miniseries The Civil War,

Ashokan Farewell

How the Bees Saved America Circa. 1917

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Here’s a Delightful Story for Independence Day!

Image: Charity throws a stick full force at her pursuers.

How The Bees Saved America. Circa. 1917

The brave patriots of the American Revolution were having a particularly hard time of it in the summer of 1780. General Washington and his ragged, half-starved soldiers were in camp just outside of Philadelphia, where it was certain that the enemy was getting ready to make an important move. Man after man had risked his life trying to get their secret, but so far no one had been able to give Washington the important news without which he dared not risk his small force in battle.

But the great Washington, himself, scarcely took the independence of the colonists more seriously to heart than did little Mistress Charity Crabtree. Despite her prim Quaker ways, no eyes could spark with greater fire at the mention of freedom than those that smiled so demurely above her white neckerchief and plain gray dress. Charity was a soldier daughter, and though his patriotism made her and her brother John orphans, when the boy also left to fight for his flag, Charity did not shed a tear, but handed him his sword and waved him Godspeed. Though she was all alone now and only twelve years old, the little maid kept a stout heart. "If I hold myself ready to serve my country, I know the time will come," she said, as she walked back from the gate through the fragrant lane, Honeycombed with beehives. "Meanwhile, I must keep my bees in good order."

Charity's father had been a bee farmer, and he kept all these hives at the entrance of his lane, so the bees could search the highway for wild flower sweets. One of his last acts was to send a beautiful comb of their honey to General Washington, whereupon the General had smacked his lips and said: "Those bees must be real patriots. They give the best that is in them to their country."

Charity stopped now to notice how well the bees were swarming. They seemed particularly active this morning, but she was not afraid of these little creatures who do not sting unless they are frightened or attacked. "I shall have a great many pots of honey to sell this fall," she thought. "It is good Providence who inspires the bees to help me keep our little white house all by myself, until brother John returns." Then suddenly the little Quaker maid turned pale. She stopped for a second with her hand to her ear, and then she ran quickly to the highway. These were terrible times, when, at any moment, bullets might whizz about like hailstones, and every good colonist lived tensely, in fear the little American army would be captured and their brave fight for independence lost forever.

It was a man in citizen's dress who galloped down the road. His hat was blown off and he pressed his left hand to his side. When he saw Charity he just was able to rein in his horse and, falling from his saddle, draw her close so she might catch the feeble words he muttered between groans. "You are Patriot Crabtree's daughter?" he murmured, and the girl nodded, as she raised his head on her arm. "I am shot, I am wounded," he gasped. "Leave me here, but fly on my horse yonder to General Washington's camp. Give him this message: 'Durwent says Cornwallis will attack Monday with large army.' Do not fail him!" cried the man. "Be off at once! The enemy is pursuing close."

Poor Charity had just time to repeat the message and assist the fainting man to a grassy place under the elm tree's shade, when the air thundered with a thudding of hoof beats, and before the terrified girl could gain her horse, a dozen soldiers leaped over the garden wall at the back of the house. "For my country!" the plucky maid cried, and leaped to the saddle. But even then she realized that if once the British saw her they could easily remount their own horses, evidently left on the other side of the wall, and so capture her and prevent her from reaching Washington. As it was they discovered the unconscious soldier, whom they quickly surrounded by a guard, then spied the fleeing girl and immediately gave chase. "Ho, there!" they cried. "Stop, girl, or by heaven well make you!" They crowded after her into the mouth of the lane, while Charity cast about hopelessly for some way of escape. Suddenly, with the entrance of the soldiers, the bees began to buzz with a cannon's roar, as if to say, "Here we are, Charity! Didn't Washington say we were patriots, too? Just give us a chance to defend our country!"

Like lightning, now, Charity bent from her saddle, and seizing a stout stick, she wheeled around to the outer side of the hedge that protected the hives like a low wall. Then, with a smart blow, she beat each hive until the bees clouded the air. Realizing from experience that bees always follow the thing that hits them rather than the person who directs it, she threw the stick full force at her pursuers.

As Charity galloped off at high speed she heard the shouts of fury from the soldiers, who fought madly against the bees. And, of course, the harder they fought, the harder they were stung. If they had been armed with swords the brave bees could not have kept the enemy more magnificently at bay.

While Charity was riding furiously miles away, down the pike, past the bridge, over the hill, right into Washington's camp, her would-be pursuers lay limply in the dust—their noses swollen like powder horns. When the little maid finally gained admission to Washington's tent, for to none other would she trust her secret, the great general stared at her gray dress torn to ribbons, her kerchief draggled with mud and her gold hair loosened by the wind. But Charity had no time for ceremony. "I have a message for thee, sir," she said, standing erect as a soldier beside the general's table. "I have ridden these many miles while a dozen of the enemy have been kept at bay so I might bear it." When she gave Washington the message he sprang from his seat and laid his fatherly hand upon her shoulder. "The little Quaker maid has saved us," he said, and his voice rang while he looked deep into her gray eyes, lighted with honest loyalty. "I brought the message only as I was directed, sir," she said. "It was my bees that saved their country."

You can imagine Washington's surprise and that of his officers who crowded in with warm praise for the girl, when Charity told them of the story of the patriotic bees.

Washington laughed. "It is well done, Little Miss Crabtree," he cried, warmly. "Neither you nor your bees shall be forgotten when our country is at peace again. It was the cackling geese that saved Rome, but the bees have saved America."

American Bee Journal, September 1917 Page 307…

Charity and her bees image::

"Tammy Horn, senior researcher apiculturist at Eastern Kentucky University and the author of Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation, originally unearthed the story from a 1917 issue of American Bee Journal, but scholars haven't yet been able to verify whether or not the event actually took place. Even if it is just a tall tale, it's certainly a remarkable one."
(Plan Bee: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Hardest-Working ...By Susan Brackney-2009)