{rawcontent 9} "The Sacred Bee" by Hilda M. Ransome, originally published in 1937 by George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, has been "reprinted by popular demand" by Bee Books New and Old (Tapping Wall Farm, Stathe Rd., Burrowbridge, Somerset TA7 DRY, UK.).

The original edition has twelve plates and thirty-five figures and the new edition is also advertised as illustrated.

The monograph has absolutely nothing to do with beekeeping or other aspects of apian technology but is comprised of twenty-two chapters, arranged by culture, of beliefs and practices concerning bees and honey. Myth and legend, nursery rhyme and folk saying, ritual and festival, classical citation and scholarly gloss, fairy tale and traveller's story, prayer and superstition, emblem and icon, are all duitfully recorded. No attempt is made at synthesis in, say, a Jungian mode, and the author indulges in very little of the speculative reverie that makes such books, depending upon one's taste, either enchanting or excruciating to read.

If there is an underlying thesis at all, it is that compared with the bee, "no creature provided (man] with so much sweet and wholesome food, which he used largely in his ritual and around none has such a number of beliefs and superstitions arisen (from the Preface). This solitary generalization serves as the premise for an intriguing compendium of bee and honey (and mead) lore f mm around the world. We read, for example, that it was a widespread ritual to feed honey to a newborn, thereby signifying that it could no longer be killed without penalty; that a variety of peoples thought that the bee was the only Creature who came to earth unchanged from paradise; and that In several nations it was believed that the bee asked God for a fatal sting but that God gave it a sting not generally fatal to anyone other than itself.

To those who like to ponder facts and fantasies ranging from the quotidian through the ludicrous to the sublime, and especially to those who have a special interest in apiculture and its allied arts, The Sacred Bee is a delight to peruse or to study and invaluable as a work of reference.

-Glenn Erickson, Ph.D.

Vicky Rowe
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