We’ve all been there: having a picnic, sitting with friends in a rose garden, or walking in the park. The sky is blue, there’s a warm breeze, and all is a peace in the world. Then out of nowhere, a bee buzzes past your ear. All of a sudden, it’s like Armageddon and you’ll stop at nothing to “save yourself” from it.
Don't tell me this isn't you every time you hear buzzing
But outside of our modern American bubble, bees are actually highly respected little critters! Not just for what they do for the ecosystem and environment, but for the good luck they are believed to bring.
Believe it or not, bees can actually have a lot of meanings. Since ancient times, bees have been known to symbolize certain values in different cultures. With the release of Rachel Linden’s new novel, The Enlightenment of Bees
(which received a lot of “buzz” at BookCon
!), we’re looking at bee symbolism in literature.
In The Enlightenment Of Bees
, the main character, Mia, has recurring dreams about honeybees that somehow seem to be leading her down a new path of life. At first, she doesn’t understand them, but begins to uncover their true meaning when she embarks on a journey around the world to find herself and her purpose.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to get anxious if a bee gets too close to me – and I’m not even allergic! But I might be convinced to show them a little more respect after learning what they are used to represent.
Bees as a symbol of good luck and prosperity:
Bees can symbolize good luck, prosperity, and love. In The Enlightenment of Bees
, Mia frequently dreams of honeybees, but the night before her longtime boyfriend broke up with her (for good), she had a dream about honeybees swarming her. The fact that she dreamt of honeybees the night before the worst day of her life could have been a sign that in the end, she will have good luck. This event proved to be the catalyst for Mia joining a trip to help people in need, bringing meaning back into her life. Bee symbolism for the win!
Bees are believed to have knowledge of the future and secret matters:
Imagine a combination of dystopian YA and feminist fantasy, and you’ll get something that might come close to describing The Bees
. Although ultimately a story of stepping out against oppression, The Bees
centers around the life of a literal
bee named Flora 717. While her story of life under the authority of the Queen Bee is a vivid representation of the real roles of bees, she develops a mind of her own. Her departure from the “hive mind” reflects an ancient belief in many Eastern cultures that bees have knowledge of future events and secrets.
Who else votes that the expression “a fly on the wall” should change to “a bee in the garden?”
Bees symbolize love:
In the famous The Secret Life of Bees
, these buzzing critters serve as a recurring symbol for things that the main character, Lily, goes through. However, one of the strongest uses of bees is to symbolize love – both given and longed for. Lily’s journey throughout the book is shaped by the memory of her mother being killed, and the longing for a mother figure to step in. As she learns the intricacies of beekeeping from the women who take her in, she is fascinated by the queen bee and her commitment to the care of her colony.
As if Lily’s story isn’t heartbreaking enough, the final chapter of the book opens up with this devastating quote. “Every colony needs a queen to survive.”
If that doesn’t remind you that we all need love and community to survive, I don’t know what will!
Have you read any of these bee books? Did they change the way you look at bees? Do you think we just made all this bee symbolism stuff up? Tell us in the comments!
Intern Brooke is loving her time on the Page Chaser team this summer! When she's not taking amazing Instagram photos for Page Chaser, she is reading fashion or home décor blogs. She loves to travel and see new places, and is OBSESSED with all things Christmas and birthdays. "I think Christmas and Birthdays are the greatest days of the year!" - actual quote from Brooke.
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The Enlightenment of Bees, and is owned by HarperCollins Publishing, Inc., the publisher of