Yes, it’s true, Lithuanians are obsessed with bees, and always treat them with honor and respect. Saulius Šaltenis’s Bees on the Snow introduced me to a number of peculiarities of Lithuanian bee culture. I found this bit, after Pastor Kristijonas’s death, of interest:
“In the meantime, Karvelis the bellringer, who could see neither earth nor sky through his tears, announced the sad news to everyone he met on the road or loitering about in the tavern, and to the pastor’s animals too, while he was stuffing hay in the manger, and he even announced that the master had died to the little bees in the garden, by knocking with his knuckles.”
For this reason, a recent headline from the New York Times that read “When the Queen Died, Someone Had to Tell the Bees” caught my eye. Apparently, it’s a custom in England going way, way back. Graciously, the article allows that it’s also done in “other parts of Europe.” Yep, that’s Lithuania. Gift link to the article (with several nice illustrations) here.
The bees have definitely been in the news. I found seven articles on bees that I’d forwarded to my son in the first nine months of this year alone, so clearly we’re not the only ones fascinated by them. The stories ranged from the “don’t see that every day” category (https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/07/02/bees-escape-utah-crash-highway/) to the “curious!” on how elephants are scared sh—less of them, too, although as the son pointed out, rightly, it’s AFRICAN bees they’re so scared of, to the “harrowing” about keeping bees on the front line in Ukraine, to the “I didn’t need to know this” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/02/ohio-man-20000-bee-stings-recover.