What exactly is "telling the bees"?

Hans Thoma painting, The Bee Friend

As many of you know, the title of Diana Gabaldon's upcoming Book 9 in the OUTLANDER series is GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE.

What exactly does it mean to "tell the bees", and where did that custom come from?

Diana Gabaldon explains it this way on her website:
Where did the title come from? Talking to your bees is a very old Celtic custom (known in other parts of Europe, too) that made it to the Appalachians. You always tell the bees when someone is born, dies, comes or goes--because if you don’t keep them informed, they’ll fly away.

Here's an interesting article published earlier this week that takes a closer look at the custom of "telling bees". Thanks to Martha W. for the link!

(The painting above is called "The Bee Friend", by 19th-century artist Hans Thoma.)

1 comment

Unknown said...

How do you get a reproduction of painting man talking to the bees?

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