Many of our collections here at Perre take inspiration from nature – from insects, flowers and animals. In particular, many of our most popular pieces evoke the bee, often busy working on honeycomb – such as our beloved fire opal, baroque pearl, and citrine pieces.
As well as treating bees with respect and kindness, the Scottish tradition of “telling the bees” was deemed to be vital in ensuring the health of the hive. This tradition entailed keeping the hive up to date with any family news – specifically deaths, births, and marriages. Failing to comply with this tradition was thought to bring economic disaster – a lack of both honey and money. In particular, deaths were considered to be the most important news to share with the hive. A piece of black cloth would often be tied to the hive before a funeral, and the bees would be formally introduced to their new keeper. In fact, it seems that participating in this tradition of “telling the bees” was a vital part of the mourning ritual, important not just for ensuring the happiness of the hive, but a significant part of the grieving process.
In this sense, one function of the beehive was to provide catharsis for grieving families. However, it was also important to tell the bees about weddings and happy occasions – where wildflowers would be tied to the hive in celebration. Therefore, bees, who contributed so much to Scotland’s natural beauty and to the welfare of their keepers, also seem to have contributed to the ritual celebration of important events in the human life cycle.
Examining these Scottish tales and beliefs about the magical honeybee makes it clear why it is such a popular and beloved image for jewellery, and why we still admire bees to this day.