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Archive for the ‘Beetwixt & Beetween’ Category

Samson’s riddle is a riddle that appears in the biblical narrative about Samson.

Samson posed the riddle to his thirty Philistine guests, in these words: “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet” (Judges 14:14).

Samson S

Samson slaying the lion by Dore

The riddle was based on a private experience of Samson, who killed a lion and after a while found bees and honey in its corpse.

(It is very interesting that there are other ancient references to bees taking up home in the dead carcasses of bulls and horses.  Perhaps the cavity and protection from nature provided an ideal home in areas where there were not so many trees or crevices?)

The Philistines, who could not solve the riddle, blackmailed the answer from Samson’s wife, who persuaded Samson to tell it to her.

“What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?” (Judges 14:18) is the answer to the riddle.

Most of text from: Wikipedia

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‘Your Lord inspired the bee, saying: “Make your homes in the mountains, in the trees, and in the hives which men shall build for you.  Feed on every kind of fruit, and follow the trodden paths of your Lord.”  From its belly comes forth a syrup of different hues, a cure for men.  Surely in this there is a sign for those who would take thought.’

From the Quran, The Bee, 16:68

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“Perhaps the one stage in bee-keeping that requires the least protection and minimum of courage is “swarm catching” – that is, taking natural swarms after they have alighted in a cluster on a bush or other object they have chosen for the purpose.  To me, it is one of the most interesting sights in Nature to watch a swarm leaving the parent stock, rising on the wing, and performing beautiful, mazy evolutions like a country dance mid-air, to the accompaniment of a soft, melodious, gentle hum, so indicative of peace, goodwill, and enjoyment at the prospect of establishing a successful home of their own; the main body keeping up these beautiful movements whilst the scouts are flying hither and thither in search of a suitable spot on which to alight; and then to see them hasten to a bush in thousands, and threading in and out amongst foliage, and now here, and there, until the scouts trumpet forth the call to assemble.  I have never yet discovered that call, but it must be well known to the bees; for when the spot on which to alight is found, and the call is made, you will see all the bees that are on the wing head towards it, even those that form the most distant circle.

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When the place of assemblage is found, what a change takes place in their song! from the gentle, peaceful hum to one of ecstatic delight.  Note again, if the bees have made up their mind to go farther afield to form a new home, there will be a change in their movements and their song.  Instead of making easy, graceful movements to and fro. the whole swarm will become agitated, the scouts will be called in, and their song becomes one of great disappointment, not to them, but to you, when you see your cherished hope rising in the air like a solid mass, and with a sharp cry and rapid movement they make for – you know not where.  “But,” you say, ” I was given to understand that bees were always led by the queen – that she gave the call, and directed their movements; – is not that why  they beat the tom-tom or ring the frying-pan with the door key?”  Not a bit of it.  That is an old superstition, grown out of a custom declaring the ownership of a swarm of bees when on the wing.  It was equal to the ringing of a bell and saying, “This is to give notice these bees belong to me.”  I have more than once seen the queen on a leaf some feed from where the swarm was clustering.  I have seen her parading to and fro on a rail while the swarm was clustering on the post, the bees paying not the slightest attention to her.  At other times I have seen her alight on the cluster and burrow in amongst them.  Evidently she has been on the wing for some time after the main body had settled.”

From: Australian Beelore and Bee Culture by Albert Gale (Late Bee Expert and Lecturer on Apiculture to the New South Wales Government).  Published in 1912.  Extracted from: Chapter XV – Swarm Catching, Hiving and Transferring pp,86-89

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A friend sent me a link to a beautifully illustrated book with a poem from Francis Bacon.  Click on the illustration and it will take you to a page where you can download the book.

The Bee Takes a Middle Way

 

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The swarming season is drawing to an end.  We caught one final swarm this week – making it a total of five.  Two of the swarms decided to move on within days of being put into their new home.  I have often found this happening when there are several really hot days after the swarm has been moved.  It is only natural, I suppose.  We have enough colonies, anyway.

As June draws to a close, the June gap has taken away the youthfulness of Spring and the seasons are drawing breath before the garden once again flourishes with July and August colours.  I can’t wait for the purple firework displays of the buddleia to come out!

I was moved this week by a fascinating insight into  Rabindranath Tagore’s “Relevance for the Future of Spirituality and of Humanity” by Deepak Chopra given a few years back at the Tagore Festival.  It is well worth watching: I have not come across Tagore’s work before – but Chopra kept referring to a book of poems of his called Gianjali which I downloaded (for free) from  an amazing website called The Spiritual Bee.

Here is part 89 of the collection.  It really struck a chord for me.  I hope you enjoy it too!

“No more noisy, loud words from me ⎯ such is my master’s will. Henceforth I deal in whispers. The speech of my heart will be carried on in murmurings of a song.  Men hasten to the King’s market. All the buyers and sellers are there. But I have my untimely leave in the middle of the day, in the thick of work.

Let then the flowers come out in my garden, though it is not their time and let the midday bees strike up their lazy hum. Full many an hour have I spent in the strife of the good and the evil, but now it is the pleasure of my playmate of the empty days to draw my heart on to him; and I know not why is this sudden call to what useless inconsequence!”

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“For many years Mark Thompson, a beekeeper local to my area, had the bizarre urge to build a Live-In Hive – an active bee home you could visit by inserting your head into it. He was working in a yard once when a beehive spewed a swarm of bees ‘like a flow of black lava, dissolving, then taking wing.’ The black cloud coalesced into a 20-foot-round black halo of 30,000 bees that hovered, UFO-like, six feet off the ground, exactly at eye-level. The flickering insect halo began to drift slowly away, keeping a constant six feet above the earth. It was a Live-In Hive dream come true. Mark didn’t waver. Dropping his tools, he slipped into the

Mark didn’t waver. Dropping his tools, he slipped into the swarm, his bare head now in the eye of a bee hurricane. He trotted in sync across the yard as the swarm eased away. Wearing a bee halo, Mark hopped over one fence, then another. He was now running to keep up with the thundering animal in whose belly his head floated. They all crossed the road and hurried down an open field, and then he jumped another fence. He was tiring. The bees weren’t; they picked up speed. The swarm-bearing man glided down a hill into a marsh. The two of them now resembled a superstitious swamp devil, humming, hovering, and plowing through the miasma. Mark churned wildly through the much trying to keep up. Then, on some signal, the bees accelerated They unhaloed Mark and left him standing there wet, ‘in painting, joyful amazement.’ Maintaining an eye-level altitude, the swarm floated across the landscape until it vanished, like a spirit unleashed, into somber pine woods across the highway.”

From: Out of Control – Chapter 2 – Hive Mind by Kevin Kelly

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A revolutionary new beehive called the FLOWhive is launching this week on Kickstarter. It apparently harvests honey in a very innovative way and is set to revolutionise beekeeping and honey harvesting worldwide.  If it works the way the marketing video says, then it could save hours of manual labour taking the supers off hives and extracting honey with all the mess it brings with it. The project goes live on Indigogo in the next few days.  I’m definitely going to look out and see what these guys are offering!

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