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Quotations about Bees
NOTE: Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors. —ღ Terri, March 2021
When the bee comes to your house, let her have beer; you may want to visit the bee's house some day. ~Congo Proverb
What do you suppose?
A bee sat on my nose.
Then what do you think?
He gave me a wink
And said, "I beg your pardon,
I thought you were the garden."
Take time to smell the roses and eventually you'll inhale a bee. ~Author Unknown
If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live. ~Maurice Maeterlinck
Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers. ~Ray Bradbury
Opening a window to let out a fly and ending up with thirty midges, three wasps, two bees and an owl. ~Rob Temple, @SoVeryBritish (Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward for Ourselves, One Rainy Day at a Time, 2013)
[L]et us linger awhile in the wonderful old Lilac walk. It is a glory of tender green and shaded amethyst and grateful hum of bees, the very voice of Spring. ~Alice Morse Earle, "In Lilac Tide," Old-Time Gardens Newly Set Forth, 1901
The hum of bees is the voice of the garden. ~Elizabeth Lawrence
So full but now of summer's triumph-notes...
The bees rich murmur filled their honeyed throats...
~Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen (1832–1911), "October," c.1866
When I add a spoon of honey to my tea, I give thanks to a dozen bees for the work of their whole lives. When my finger sweeps the final drop of sweetness from the jar, I know we've enjoyed the nectar from over a million flowers. This is what honey is: the souls of flowers, a food to please the gods. Honeyeaters know that to have a joyful heart one must live life like the bees, sipping the sweet nectar from each moment as it blooms. And Life, like the world of honey, has its enchantments and stings.... ~Ingrid Goff-Maidoff, "The Honey Sutras"
How blest to sit in the fragrant shade,
In the hush of a summer noon,
To watch the bees at their happy task,
And listen their drowsy tune...
~Elizabeth Anne Chase Akers Allen, "My Air–castle," The Sunset–song and other Verses, 1902
It is not how busy you are, but why you are busy — the bee is praised, the mosquito is swatted. ~Author Unknown
How doth the little busy Bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From ev'ry op'ning flow'r!
~Isaac Watts (1674–1748), "Idleness and Mischief" (children's hymn)
Don't wear perfume in the garden — unless you want to be pollinated by bees. ~Anne Raver
Books are the beehives of thought; laconics, the honey taken from them. ~James Ellis, quoted in Edge-Tools of Speech by Maturin M. Ballou, 1899
Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind. ~James Russell Lowell
Handle a book as a bee does a flower, extract its sweetness but do not damage it. ~John Muir
Others, again, give us the mere carcass of another man’s thoughts, but deprived of all their life and spirit, and this is to add murder to robbery. I have somewhere seen it observed, that we should make the same use of a book, as a bee does of a flower; she steals sweets from it, but does not injure it; and those sweets she herself improves and concocts into honey. But most plagiarists, like the drone, have neither taste to select, nor industry to acquire, nor skill to improve, but impudently pilfer the honey ready prepared from the hive. ~Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon: Or, Many Things in Few Words; Addressed to Those Who Think, 1820
[T]hese flowers, so fragrant, grew
And the birds and bees sipped sweet nectar
From the sparkling, morning dew.
God has blessed all beauties of Nature;
He's set His approval and seal
On all of His small, winged messengers
That fly through the air with such zeal.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "Honeysuckle" (1940s)
One swallow will not make spring, nor one bee honey. ~Proverb
Nature's Confectioner the Bee,
(Whose Suckets are moist Alchimy;
The Still of his refining Mold
Minting the Garden into Gold)...
~John Cleveland (1613–1658), "Fuscara or the Bee Errant"
Bees were busy, and their humming brought pleasant hopes of summer. ~Lady John Manners, "Belvoir at Eastertide," in The Garden: An Illustrated Weekly Journal of Horticulture In All Its Branches, 1886 May 8th
Balm for each blade of grass: the hours prepare
A festival each weed 's invited to:
Each bee is drunken with the honied air:
And all the heaven is eloquent with blue...
~Madison Cawein, "After Rain," Red Leaves and Roses, 1893
I know the quivering of the fragrant petals at the touch of the pollen-legged bees. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Creation Songs: V," A Soul's Faring, 1921
The weary bees have reached the hive
Rejoicing over labor done,
And blossoms close their fragrant cups,
Which opened to the morning sun.
~Mary Ann H. Dodd Shutts (1813–1878), "Twilight"
When I work, I waggle-dance and sing. ~James McGrath (b.1928), "Bee," written in the 1970s, published in Dreaming Invisible Voices, 2009
Out in the field the bees are singing
Love to the clover, and fondly clinging.
~Sara L. Vickers Oberholtzer, "The Beautiful Harvest," Come for Arbutus, and Other Wild Bloom, 1882
The bees are summer-busy every sunny afternoon... ~Hal Borland [September —tg]
Honey has more poetry about it than any other form of food, it seems to me. It is gathered sunlight, candied perfume of flowers, the scent of new-cut grass, the essence of spring breezes, the heart of summer days, so that one may eat all the summer and autumn in concentrated sweetness beside the winter fire, in a dreamful transubstantiation of delight. And how kind of the bee not to preserve his sting in the honey! ~Dorothy Scarborough, "Entomology on a Country Porch," From a Southern Porch, 1919
The lovely flowers embarrass me,
They make me regret I am not a bee –
To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.
[Emily Dickinson's] heart nestles in with the bumblebees in their "tenements of clover" — bees that buzz throughout her poetry and letters, so dear that she dreams of them; she even finds "to caress the bee a severe temptation..." Her darting poetic lines sting imagination like the barbs of her own bees. ~Katharine Lee Bates, "A House of Rose," 1925 [a little altered —tg]
'Twas the humblebee, the drummer
On the honeyed strings of summer,
That I heard...
~Sara L. Vickers Oberholtzer, "As I Listened in June," Souvenirs of Occasions, 1892
[T]he bees will buzz you a welcome from the hives at the end, and then the trees will stoop down about you, and you can look up into a green sky set with constellations of apples. ~Margaret Troili, “Woods of Mendocino,” Out West: A Magazine of the Old Pacific and the New, June 1908
The Spring has come again
For the grass is growing green,
And among the fields of clover
Bright butterflies are seen.
The little birds are singing sweetly
As they fly from tree to tree...
The busy bees are gathering
The honey from the flowers,
And the merry birds are building
Their nests in sheltered bowers...
~Josephine D.C., "Spring," c.1887
Aerodynamically the bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn't know it, so it goes on flying anyway. ~Mary Kay Ash
Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers. ~Robert Ingersoll
Therefore doth heaven divide
The state of man in divers functions,
Setting endeavour in continual motion;
To which is fixed, as an aim or butt,
Obedience: for so work the honey-bees,
Creatures that by a rule in nature teach
The act of order to a peopled kingdom.
They have a king and officers of sorts;
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home,
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad,
Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings,
Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds,
Which pillage they with merry march bring home
To the tent-royal of their emperor;
Who, busied in his majesty, surveys
The singing masons building roofs of gold,
The civil citizens kneading up the honey,
The poor mechanic porters crowding in
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate,
The sad-eyed justice, with his surly hum,
Delivering o'er to executors pale
The lazy yawning drone...
~William Shakespeare, Henry V, c.1598 [I, 2, Archbishop of Canterbury]
The luxury of all summer's sweet sensation is to be found when one lies at length in the warm, fragrant grass, soaked with sunshine, aware of regions of blossoming clover and of a high heaven filled with the hum of innumerous bees. ~Harriet E. Prescott, The Atlantic Monthly, August 1865
Every saint has a bee in his halo. ~Elbert Hubbard
Where the bee sucks. there suck I:
In a cowslip's bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat's back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.
~William Shakespeare, Tempest, c.1611 [V, 1, Prospero]
Bees that have honey in their mouths have stings in their tails. ~Scottish proverb
Bees sip honey from flowers and hum their thanks when they leave.
The gaudy butterfly is sure that the flowers owe thanks to him.
~Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds
Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn,
Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
But only one mother the wide world over.
...See, sons, what things you are!
How quickly nature falls into revolt
When gold becomes her object!
For this the foolish over-careful fathers
Have broke their sleep with thoughts,
Their brains with care, their bones with industry;
For this they have engrossed and pil'd up
The cank'red heaps of strange-achieved gold;
For this they have been thoughtful to invest
Their sons with arts and martial exercises;
When, like the bee, tolling from every flower
The virtuous sweets,
Our thighs with wax, our mouths with honey pack'd,
We bring it to the hive, and, like the bees,
Are murd'red for our pains....
~William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II, c.1597 [IV, 5, Henry IV]
B hopeful, B happy, B cheerful, B kind,
B busy of body, B modest of mind,
B earnest, B truthful, B firm and B fair...
B watchful, B ready, B open, B frank,
B manly to all men, whatever B their rank;
B just and B generous, B honest, B wise...
B temperate, B steadfast, to anger B slow.
B thoughtful, B thankful, whate'er may B tide...
B pleasant, B patient, B fervent to all,
B best if you can, but B humble withal.
B prompt and B dutiful, still B polite;
B reverent, B quiet, and B sure and B right...
B grateful, B cautious of those who B tray.
B tender, B loving, B good and B nign,
B loved thou shalt B, and all else B thine.
~"A Swarm of Bees," The British Bee Journal, and Bee Keeper's Adviser, 1882 February 1st
Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable
thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should
be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled
o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings:
but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal
once to a thing, and I was never mine own man since.
~William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part II, c.1590 [IV, 2, Jack Cade]
So our student will flit like a busy bee through the entire garden of literature, light on every blossom, collect a little nectar from each, and carry it to his hive... ~Desiderius Erasmus
Original post date 2004 May 23rd
Last saved 2021 May 11 Tue 21:04 PDT