The Bee and its place in many cultures from prehistoric times is outlined in three lengthy articles(a)(b)(c) by Andrew Gough. Much of what he has written is news to me as I’m sure it will be to most readers here. They should be read along with an equally fascinating article in National Geographic magazine of March 2020. All three of Gough’s papers are highly informative and worthy of a read.
An article(c) on the BBC website refers to studies that indicate “that humans have been exploiting honeybees for almost 9,000 years” also noting that “traces of beeswax found on ancient pottery from Europe, the Near East and North Africa suggest the first farmers kept bees.”
Its medicinal and nutritional qualities have been identified in ancient societies as far apart as early Aboriginal Australia and Sumeria. The bee also featured “as the symbol of the constellation presently occupied by Libra” in the zodiac of the Dogon of Mali. Gough deals extensively with the place of the bee in ancient Egypt where the bee ideogram represents honey, and “Intriguingly, Northern Egypt – the land stretching from the Delta to Memphis was known as “Ta-Bitty”, or “the land of the bee”. Similarly in the bible, the Lord promises to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and into a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Gough, who had earlier been attracted to the Minoan Hypothesis, noted that the Minoans of Crete, like the Egyptians, also venerated the bee and added that “Although speculative, the notion of Atlantis as a centre of bull and Bee worship is alluring, and based on the evidence, not entirely unfounded.”(a) Throughout his three articles, Gough touches briefly on the subject of Atlantis including the books of Jürgen Spanuth and his North Sea Atlantis. In the same way, I should point out that in the case of another Atlantis candidate, Malta, its name is generally thought to be derived from the Greek word for honey meli and was later known to the Romans as Melita, the Latin equivalent. Malta was renowned in ancient times for the quality of its honey, which may explain why the light-fingered, 1st century BC Roman governor, Verres, stole 400 amphorae of it (about 2800 gallons) over a three-year period.
>Eire Rautenberg has offered a more speculative Malta/Bee connection claiming “The first humans came 11,000 – 6,000 BC. BC, historically very early. ‘Malet’, the Punic name for Malta , means refuge and the Greek interpretation ‘Melita’ of -melas means a honeyed dark goddess. The bee structure of the Megalithic Temples of Malta everyone can study at the temple stones; they sometimes look like huge honeycombs that have been proven to be artificially created. The owl as a symbol of the dark, all-seeing eye goddess can also be found on a stele of the megalithic temple Hagar Qim on the southwest coast.(f)<
Antoine Gigal, the French researcher, has drawn attention to a possible link between Egypt and Malta based on the bee and its honey.(d)
Eva Crane (1912-2007) the renowned British expert on bees and beekeeping has authored many papers and books on the subject among which is the 682-page tome The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting , a must for anyone with a keen apiarian interest.