Updated: November 2023
Bees have much to teach us, they fascinate us, they are beautiful, and their importance to mankind is beyond measure. No wonder writers and philosophers through the centuries have waxed lyrical about bees!
Here is a selection of quotes and proverbs mentioning bees from the writings of poets, philosophical and religious texts, historical works and proverbs, and present day musings
The busy bee has no time for sorrow."
- William Blake
"The hum of bees is the voice of the garden."
"Listen to the bees and let them guide you."
"For where’s the State beneath the Firmament
That doth excel the Bees for Government?"
– Guillaume de Saluste du Bartas
"The bee is more honored than other animals,
not because she labors,
but because she labors for others."
- St. John Chrysostom
"Words are like bees – some create honey
and others leave a sting."
"A bee is never as busy as it seems;
it’s just that it can’t buzz any slower."
- Kin Hubbard
"The lovely flowers embarrass me,
They make me regret I am not a bee."
- Emily Dickinson
“The botanist should make interest with the bees if he would know when the flowers open and when they close.”
- Henry David Thoreau, 1906
"And most of all would I flee from the cruel madness of love – The honey of poison-flowers and all the measureless ill."
"He is not worthy of the honey-comb
That shuns the hives because the bees have stings."
"Place a beehive on my grave
And let the honey soak through.
When I'm dead and gone,
That's what I want from you.
The streets of heaven are gold and sunny,
But I'll stick with my plot and a pot of honey.
Place a beehive on my grave
And let the honey soak through.”
- Sue Monk Kidd
"That which is not good for the bee-hive
cannot be good for the bees."
- Marcus Aurelius
"Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
- Proverbs 16:24
"When you shoot an arrow of truth,
dip its point in honey."
- Arab proverb
"Life is the flower of which
love is the honey."
– Victor Hugo
“Bees do have a smell, you know,
and if they don't they should,
for their feet are dusted with spices
from a million flowers.”
- Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
"When the flower blossoms, the bee will come."
"The bee's life is like a magic well:
the more you draw from it,
the more it fills with water."
- Karl Von Frisch
"Handle a book as a bee does a flower,
extract its sweetness but do not damage it!"
- John Muir
"The men of experiment are like the ant;
they only collect and use.
But the bee...gathers its materials
from the flowers of the garden and of the field,
but transforms and digests it by a power of its own."
- Leonardo da Vinci
"Honey is dear bought if licked of thorns."
- 12th Century Proverb
"Bees work for man,
and yet they never bruise
Their Master's flower,
but leave it having done,
As fair as ever and as fit to use;
So both the flower doth stay
and honey run."
- George Herbert, The Church-Providence
"He will be eating curds and
honey when he knows
enough to reject the wrong
and choose the right."
- Isaiah 7:15, The Bible
"Those bees, which chose thy sweet mouth for their hive, to gather honey from thy works, survive."
– Thomas Pecke, Parnassi Puerperium, 1659
"The bee is domesticated but not tamed."
- William Longgood
“There is one masterpiece, the hexagonal cell,
that touches perfection.
No living creature, not even man,
has achieved, in the centre of his sphere,
what the bee has achieved in her own:
and were some one from another world
to descend and ask of the earth
the most perfect creation of the logic of life,
we should needs have to offer the humble comb of honey."
-Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life Of The Bee, 1924
"A swarm of bees in May
is worth a load Of hay,
But a swarm in July
is not worth a fly."
- J. Ray – English Proverb 1670
"A Bee is an exquisite Chymist" [chemist]
– Royal Beekeeper to Charles II
“Where possible, and within reason,
adopt a more tolerant attitude to
feral bee colonies in buildings,
and of hived bee colonies in one's neighbourhood.
If we want bees we need to make space for them.”
– Dr David Heaf, The Bee-friendly Beekeeper
“A careful beekeeper will not take more (honey)
than the colony can afford to miss.
Putting the bees in danger
for a few frames of honey after a cold,
wet summer is counter-productive.”
- Paul Peacock
author of Keeping Bees - A Complete Practical Guide
"We owe the bees. Act accordingly."
- Lars Chittka, The Mind Of A Bee
"Not a single bee has ever sent you an invoice.
And that is part of the problem - because most of what comes to us from nature is free, because it is not invoiced, because it is not priced, because it is not traded in markets, we tend to ignore it."
- Pavan Sukhdev, United Nations report,
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity.
“Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to 7 billion people”
- Achim Steiner,
Executive Director UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
"Stop using chemicals in your garden.
In the US more chemical tonnage is used on lawns and golf courses than on crops.
Even people with apartments routinely use pesticides on their window boxes, killing every butterfly that visits."
– Mark Daniels, Director, The Strange Disappearance Of The Bees
“The way humanity manages or mismanages its
nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in
part define our collective future in the 21st century
……The fact is that of the 100 crop species
that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.”
- Achim Steiner, Executive Director UN Environment Programme (UNEP)