Though it may seem incredible, honey bees are basically more intelligent compared to the computers and can even outdo them in many several roles. For instance, honey bees can identify colors and odors. In addition, they possess exceptional qualities that enable them to fly, retain their stability, find routes, perform chemical engineering, revamp and renovate, defend, expel compost, be in command of the atmosphere in an enclosure as well as move from one place to another as and when required. Significantly, the honey bees are able to perform all these functions without any external aid or guidance! Unlike, computers, they perform all these activities autonomously.
However, the honey bees often act like humans and on several occasions they are likely to turn out to be their own nastiest foes. For instance, if the climate is placid and no flowers are in blossom, honey bees hailing from separate colonies will engage in fierce fights amongst them if they locate honey anywhere. On occasions, such combats or raids spread like wild fires from one bee hive to another, much like a mob violence confronted by the human civilization.
Lest honey bees from one colony succeed in overpowering and killing the bees from another colony, they are quick to rob the honey and carry it to their own hives. By the way, the conflict does not end here as the bees carrying the honey to their hive may be attacked by another group of bees from another colony, subdue and kill them before stealing the booty (honey). The development in an unending process and it is possible that the incident is replicated when a fourth group of bees attacks them and loot the honey. Normally, only nightfall or an inclement weather is able to put an end to such fierce fighting amongst honey bees belonging to different colonies.
It is interesting to note that like the humans, honey bees too are vulnerable to attacks by bacteria and viruses. In fact, American foulbrood initiated by bacterium Bacillus larvae that leads to formation of spores are the worst enemies of the honey bees and this malady strikes wherever bees are kept across the globe. The spores formed by the bacterium defy heat as well as antibiotics. The biggest threat from the disease is that it can swell swiftly even in healthy honey bee colonies as a fall-out of relocating paraphernalia or owing to the bees feeding on honey collected from unhygienic colonies. American foulbrood caused by Bacillus is a common phenomenon across the globe and is contagious by nature. The disease is not only immune to traditional remedies, but also spreads though physical contact or transmission through the air.
Looking back into history of primeval civilizations, one will be surprised to learn that compared to the present generation, both the primal as well as the urbane populace were better acquainted with the influence of honey bees on the survival of human beings. Hence, it is little surprising that bees have been sanctified in the holy scriptures since the ages. The conscientious activities of the bees have been recognized and eulogized by almost all the Holy Scriptures, including the Bible of the Christians, the Talmud and Torah of the Jews, the Koran of the Muslims as well as the Book of Mormon. Each of them has accorded a holy status to the honey bees. Especially, a particular section in the Book of Mormon scripted by a prehistoric Jaredite spiritualist called Ether (2:3) around three millennia ago in the Americas is very unambiguous regarding the honey bees as well as their utility.
There were several reasons why the ancient civilizations considered the honey bees to be important and accorded them a holy status. In Egypt, priests and physicians alike had high esteem for the bees and were of the belief that these small winged creatures were God’s messengers who were sent to the earth to provide the humans with superb food and remedies. Similarly, considering the qualities of the honey bees, the Chinese accorded them a high standing that was equivalent only to their emperors. Again, in ancient India, Ayurveda, one of the earliest forms of herbal medicinal practice, regarded bees as an amalgam of imperceptible powers conveyed life and fitness all the way through the materials they produced for everyone’s benefit.
That substances produced by the honey bees were popular even during the Stone Age; it is evident from figures drawn by the early man in some caves in Europe and South Africa. However, the first significant indication of collecting honey as well as the exploitation of beeswax or honeycombs has been located in some of the paintings done on rocks dating back between 18,000 B.C. and 11,000 B.C. in the eastern provinces of Spain. In fact, the painting on the ceiling of the Altamira cave located near Santander on the northern coast of Spain is especially famed for depicting polychrome bison and further fauna found during the Ice Age on one of its chambers. Known as the ‘Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Art’, the painting evidently depicts four scutiforms implemented in brown strokes that represent bee combs. One can find several ladder-like structures beside these bee combs and these are believed to represent the honey gathering activities of the early man. The painting offers ample evidence of the fact that along with the Neanderthal people, the bees existed way back even during the key glacier era during the final Ice Age. It also goes on to prove that the bees were capable of enduring the severe cold prevailing during the Ice Age with not much difficulty.
Over the years, historians have found out more than 4000 rock-art painting or petroglyphs, implemented during the last four millennia, located in several places in Africa – primarily in South Africa and Zimbabwe. According to the several studies conducted by researchers at these sites, most of the artwork are said to be executed by the ancestors of the Bushmen – an ethnic group of yellow-skinned pygmies who are native to South Africa. Significantly, the Bushmen are primarily hunters and food collectors who continued to practice their primitive life style even during the contemporary age.
Researchers who conducted studies on the Bushmen are of the opinion that this ancient semi-nomadic group was unlikely to practice bee-keeping. Probably they found it too cumbersome to artificially manufacture bee hives to produce honey. The scientists are of the opinion that members of this ancient tribe are more likely to steal honey and honeycombs from natural beehives they stumbled upon while wandering from place to place.
The gifts that bees give to mankind include