Each month we are going to treat you to a deep dive into the origin, history and evolution of the symbols in our collections. We will share archaeological findings, folktales and historical anecdotes to provide more context and meaning to the pieces we have on offer. As you continue on your journey, it is our hope that this additional backstory will help you connect to your JuJu on an even deeper and more personal level.
JANUARY : THE BEE
Chances are you’ve come face-to-face with this month’s Symbol of the Month...on more than one occasion. While your initial reaction may bee fear or aversion, it is short lived as you realize that you just need to stay calm and move out of the way -- because, for the bee, it is just another busy day at work.
If you’ve ever been referred to as a “busy bee,” you should take it as a compliment. The bee is one of the most productive, powerful and collaborative animals on the planet.
The Not So Secret Strength of Bees
Bees play a critical role in the global ecosystem as pollinators; helping flowers fertilize and reproduce by transporting their pollen from flower to flower. In fact, bees are the most effective pollinators on the planet.
Their efficacy is largely due to their remarkable strength, endurance and persistence. Bees are able to carry their entire body weight in pollen, while flying at up to 15 miles per hour, and and can travel up to 6 miles at a time! Hence it's no surprise that we have placed the mighty Bee in our JuJu Strength Collection.
The Buff Bees of History
In Indian and Near East mythologies, the bee carries more than just pollen - they are viewed as escorts to the underworld - literally acting as a shuttle chaperoning us from realm to realm.
Bees in Ancient Greek Mythology
In ancient Minoan-Mycenaean mythology, the bee is commonly associated with the feminine. The word “Potnia,” which translates to “mistress” or “lady” in ancient greek, also means “The Pure Mother Bee.”
During the Late Bronze Age in particular, Potnia was more than just a word for a woman -- she was a Goddess. Just like the bee, Potnia was seen as a protector of nature, vegetation, and fertility. In some histories, the goddess goes by the name Melissa -- today, the name still means “bee” in Greek.
It’s no wonder that when Minoan and Mycenaeans made offerings to the gods, it was often in the form of honey.
Bees were also closely linked to the afterlife. Archaeologists have discovered tombs shaped like beehives, known as “tholos tombs.”
Following the Late Bronze Age, the ancient Greek gods that most of us are familiar with (Zeus, Poseidon, etc.) rose to prominence. And in this “classic” Greek mythology, Aristaeus was the god of bee-keeping (as well as cheesemaking and other useful arts).
In one particular story, Aristaeus causes the death of Euridyce (she stepped on a snake while running away from him). To get revenge, Euridyce’s sisters kill all of Aristaeus’ bees.
Other Bee Deities
In Mayan mythology, there is both a male and female god of bees: Ah-Muzen-Cab (male) and Colel Cab (female). The Yucatan region of modern day Mexico and the historical location of the Mayan civilization has a long-held tradition of beekeeping that is still practiced today. In fact, Archaeologists discovered beekeeping tools at the digsite of Nakum, an ancient Mayan site dating back all the way to 300 B.C.E - 200 B.C.E.
The JuJu Bee for Strength
Borrowing inspiration from the bee deities and symbols of legend, the JuJu Bee is the most determined of the animal totems. Strong and focused, the bee perseveres regardless of circumstances.
Wear the JuJu Bee as a reminder of your inner strength, fearlessness and commitment to the greater good.