Many famous names we know have also been beekeepers. Let’s dive in and take a look!
Ancient Egypt’s King Tut had honey pots in his tomb for his journey to the afterlife…
Aristotle, the Greek scientist and philosopher, kept bees, observed and theorized about bees, and thought the leader of a bee colony was a King Bee rather than a Queen Bee… Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician, was a beekeeper and Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, included honey in his recommendations for various health issues.
Ancient Romans created offerings to the bee and honey goddess, Mellona or Mellonia. The Greek god of bees was Aristaeus. Another ancient Greek Minoan goddess of bees was Melissa. Many ancient cultures had gods and goddesses of bees that they worshipped and charged with protection of the bees and the honey supply… the Mayan god of bees was Ah-Muzen-Cab and their goddess of bees was Colel Cab. In Lithuania Austeja was the goddess of bees and Bubilas was their god of bees, the Hindu goddess of bees was Bhramari.
In the New World, famous founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both known to keep bees on their estates. The bees pollinated their crops as well as providing honey for them. It is said the Native Americans referred to bees as “white man’s flies” because they always appeared around the same time as European settlers arrived, with hives of tame bees swarming into the wild.
Napoleon Bonaparte had 3000 bees embroidered on his coronation robe when he became Emperor of France, although it is unknown if he was also a beekeeper.
Leo Tolstoy, the Russian author, was a hobby beekeeper along with his wife, and shared deep inspiration about bees in his novel, “War and Peace.” Fictional character Sherlock Holmes became a beekeeper when he retired from sleuthing, and another fictional character Winnie the Pooh (see Winnie with his honey pots in the image above) was most famous for disguising himself as a little black rain cloud, so he could eat honey from wild hives. He was not a beekeeper but a bee lover.
Other varied and notable beekeepers are Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand, the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest. He and his brother Rex joined their father’s beekeeping business and had over 1200 hives… Sting from The Police has been deeply moved by bees and is Patron of the Bees for Development Trust... Father and son actors Henry Fonda and Peter Fonda… Maria von Trapp of the musical The Sound of Music, took up beekeeping when she fled pre-war Austria and settled in Vermont… Martha Stewart has kept bees for over 25 years… Scarlett Johansson, a Hollywood movie star, became a beekeeper when she received a hive full of bees from actor Samuel L Jackson as a wedding gift… Morgan Freeman, Hollywood actor, is a passionate beekeeper on his 126-acre Mississippi ranch. He is an outspoken bee advocate, speaking for those (bees) who can’t speak for themselves… Rocker Jon Bon Jovi keeps bees on his New Jersey property… Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers is said to have three hives and loves his bees so much he calls them ‘Flea’s bees’… how cool is that?!
Popes and Presidents... both the White House and Pope Francis at his Castel Gandolfo pontifical farm maintain bee hives... Fairmont Hotels have started adding rooftop gardens with apiaries to many of their locations… even the bees of our beloved Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris survived the fire...
Do you know of any famous beekeepers we have forgotten to mention here? Please share!
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