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Reference: Bee

Hastings

The bee (Apis fasciata) is a very important insect of Palestine. Wild bees are common, and stores of their honey are often found by wandering Bedouin, especially, it is said, near the Dead Sea. Most of the honey consumed and exported in large quantities is made by domesticated bees. The vast numbers of flowers and especially of aromatic plants enable the skilled bee-keeper to produce the most delicately flavoured honey, e.g. 'orange flower,' 'thyme,' etc.; be carries his hives to different parts according to the season. Many now keep bees in hives of European pattern, but the ordinary native still universally uses the primitive tube hive. This is like a wide drain-pipe of very rough earthenware, some 3 ft. long and about 8 in. in diameter, closed at the end with mud, leaving a hole for ingress and egress. A number of hives are piled one above the other. A few years ago, while the owner of several swarms of bees was transferring his brittle mud hives on donkey-hack, one of the asses stumbled and in falling broke one of the hives. In a moment the whole swarm fell on the unfortunate animals and on a fine horse standing near. One donkey was quickly stung to death, and all the other animals were severely injured. Cf. De 1:44; Ps 118:12, and Isa 7:18, where the hosts of Assyria are compared to such a swarm let loose. That a swarm of bees should settle in a carcass (Jg 14:8) is certainly an unusual occurrence, as indeed is suggested in the narrative, but the dried-up remains of animals, little but hide and ribs, so plentiful by the roadsides in Palestine, often suggest suitable places for such a settlement. Honey has probably always been plentiful in Palestine, hut it is very doubtful whether 'a land flowing with milk and honey' could have meant the product of bees alone. See Honey and Vine. In the Septuagint there is an addition to Pr 6:8, in which the bee is, like the ant, extolled for her diligence and wisdom.

E. W. G. Masterman.

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