Bees In The Bible: Significance of Bees & All 66 References In The Bible

bees in the bible
References to bees are plentiful in the Old and New Testaments. Bees embody desirable human characteristics, symbolize Christ for Christians, and provide honey, a common food in ancient civilizations that represents pleasure, sweetness, truth, and knowledge. Bees are referenced in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and many other religions.

Symbolism | Bee References | Honey References | Symbolism In Bible | Other Cultures & Religions | Bees & Gods | Bees & Wisdom | All Biblical References

Since ancient times, bees have significantly contributed to our natural food cycle. From producing honey to pollinating plants, these little creatures provide us with the food we eat. 

But what’s more fascinating is that bees appear in several religious texts, including the Bible, the holy book of the Christians. There are multiple references to honey and bees in the Bible verses. Moreover, a swarm of bees or wasps is often viewed as a divine occurrence. 

So, what exactly connects these buzzing insects to the divine? How are bees mentioned in the Old and the New Testaments? Let’s take a look into the christian symbolism associated with bees. 

What Is The Religious Symbolism of Bees?

Honey bees, the type of bee often referenced in religious tests, exhibit many characteristics that religions try to encourage in their followers.

  • They are industrious and purposeful as they do their work.
  • Their lives are short, but they willingly serve the community, whether as workers who gather pollen or nurse the young, drones who live to serve the queen, and the queen born to rule.
  • They respect leadership and serve one queen in their hive.
  • They work together to prosper the hive by bringing nectar and pollen back to the hive, where they feed their young with the pollen and make honey with the nectar. Each member of a bee colony has its role.
  • They are fiercely protective of their queen and their hive.
  • They are peace-loving and attack only when threatened. As honey bees die after stinging a perceived enemy, they show their willingness to protect their home and family.
  •  They produce honey, which is valued for its sweetness and regarded as a sign of wealth and plenty.

Their characteristics are often expressed as cliches such as “sweet as honey or even “sweeter than honey,” calling someone “honey.”

For all the bees’ work, they are undoubtedly synonymous with busyness. Their industrious nature is also the reason behind the origin of the simile “busy as a bee.”

Geoffrey Chaucer first used the phrase in his book The Canterbury Tales. That was back in the 14th century, and the saying continues to be relevant to date.  

For more about the symbolism of bees, click here to read our article Bee Symbolism: What Bees Have Symbolized Throughout History

Bee References In The Bible

Numerous passages and stories in the Bible allude to bees and honey. Not surprisingly, most references are to honey, the lifework of bees.

The aggressiveness of bees in swarms is noted in these references:

Psalm 118:12 – “They surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns; in the name of the Lord, I cut them off!”

Judges 14:8 “After some days, he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold; there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey.”

This passage references the story of Samson, where he wagers a riddle to Philistine wedding guests based on his experience of killing a lion. The riddle goes: “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?” The riddle was about the appearance of bees in the carcass of the lion. The imagery of the body of the lion signified his triumph over evil. 

Bees are referenced in the Book of Judges in the story of Deborah, a prophetess and the only female judge of the Israelites. Her name means “bee” and comes from the Hebrew name Devorah. She exhibited the wisdom, creativity, resourcefulness, teamwork, collective consciousness, communication, and hard work that bees are known for throughout her life. God charged her with a plan to free the Israelites from a cruel king. She summoned the warrior Barak to lead a battle and even accompanied him. The victory is sung about in the Song of Deborah in Judges 5:2–31

Deuteronomy 1:44 – “Then the Amorites who lived in that hill country came out against you and chased you as bees do and beat you down in Seir as far as Hormah.”

Isaiah 7:18 – “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.”

Biblical References To Honey

Specific references to honey in the Bible are prolific. The Kings James version mentions it at least 61 times, starting with the book of Genesis, where honey was a valuable bargaining tool for the Israelites to go to Egypt to escape the famine in their land.

As Genesis 43:11 reports, “And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almond.”

By Exodus 3:17, Israel was seen as “a land flowing with milk and honey.” There are additional references to this place of abundance and fertility throughout the old testament

Honey was regarded as sweet. Proverbs 16:24 states, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” 

Meanwhile, King Solomon, best known for his wisdom, noted, “My son, eat honey for it is good and the dripping of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste” in Proverbs 24:13. He compares bees and honey to represent wisdom and fulfillment.

Gaining insight feels rewarding and delightful, like the sweet taste of honey. 

Psalm 19:10 states, “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.”

Psalm 19 talks about the glory of God that surrounds us by comparing it to honey. It describes honey as something more precious than gold. 

What Do Bees Symbolize In The Bible?

Bees hold a special significance in the Christian religion as they manifest the characteristics of Jesus—strength, perseverance, and wisdom. 

In Christian tradition, the bee is even regarded as the emblem of Jesus Christ himself. The Paschal candle, lit before Easter, is made of pure beeswax to represent Christ. Christians associate the sweetness of honey with Christ’s forgiveness and a bee’s sting to his justice. Many believe that the tendency of worker bees to serve their queen diligently represents Christian virtues. 

Bees, in general, uphold the idea of community. They are believed to be carriers of wisdom with a fierce spirit despite their delicate physique. The bees have been playing a vital role in the progress of humankind. 

In Judaism, honey is considered a kosher food. During the celebration of Rosh Hashana, it is customary to eat symbolic foods dipped in honey, such as challah (leavened bread) and apple, in hopes of a happy and healthy new year.

Spiritual Meaning of Bees In Other Religions & Cultures?

Ancient scriptures often used bee references to describe positive attributes such as prosperity, industry, harmony, wisdom, fertility, good luck, etc. From a spiritual point of view, bees are the winged messengers of the divine. 

There’s a story in Egyptian mythology to corroborate this belief. When Ra, the sun god, cried and his tears fell on the ground, they turned into bees to convey messages to humankind. People in Egypt also believe that bees represent one’s soul. 

According to European folklore, bees and eagles are the only creatures allowed to enter heaven. Besides, many religious texts contain allusions to bees and their hives. Historians have also found paintings of honeybees inscribed on ancient artifacts like rocks and walls. 

Hindu gods are often represented as bees, while followers leave honey on altars as gifts to God and consume honey to invite strength, health, wisdom, and happiness into their lives. Some chants include buzzing and humming noises similar to the sound of bees.

Meanwhile, Muslim find that the 16th chapter of the Quran encourages them to be more like bees, while honey is the food of paradise.

Which Gods Do Bees Symbolize?

In Catholicism, honey bees represent the Virgin Mary, often referred to as the “Queen of the Bees.” As most female bees have undeveloped ovaries, they cannot reproduce, making the bee an excellent model for virginity.

Aurelius Ambrosius is among the prominent patron saints of beekeepers. His patronage originates in a legend from his infanthood. A vast swarm of bees landed on Ambrose’s face when he was lying in his cradle as a baby. 

Surprisingly, the bees didn’t harm him and instead left a drop of honey on his face. Ambrose’s father saw this as an indication of his oratory skills in the future and ‘honeyed tongue.

Beehives and bees are widely mentioned in the saint’s works.

Bees are symbolic among Ancient Greeks as well. They considered bees a cult symbol for Artemis, the goddess of wild nature. Pan, known as the God of Beekeeping, is another Greek God associated with bees. 

There is an exciting story on the history of ancient Delphi. People believe that bees constructed this oracular site. Archaeologists have found evidence in the oracle of the Temple of Apollo. It’s a stone carved in the shape of a beehive. 

Beautiful patterns of bee-like images cover the entire oracle. Pythia, the high priestess at the temple, earned the moniker ‘The Delphic Bee.’ She referred to her associates as Queen Bees. These damsels presumably entered into a state of spiritual trance by consuming honey. 

Why Do Bees Represent Wisdom?

It’s the nature of wild bees to serve others. Being part of a colony, bees help sustain each other by foraging nectar from flowers to feed the young and build honeycomb. Besides, bees also pollinate crops and plants to benefit humans and other animals. 

The association of bees with spiritual wisdom has to do with their life cycle. It is a metaphor representing how we spend time, what we give back to our loved ones, and what we feed into our minds and hearts.  

Perhaps this is why bees are a part of the lore and religious documents of many faiths and cultures.

66 References of Bees, Swarms, Honey & Honeycomb In The Bible

Deuteronomy 1:44And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.
Judges 14:7-9And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion. And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.
Judges 14:8And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.
Psalm 118:12They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
Isaiah 7:18And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
Psalm 19:10More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Genesis 43:11And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds
Exodus 3:8And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Exodus 3:17And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
Exodus 13:5And it shall be when the Lord shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month.
Exodus 16:31And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
Exodus 33:3Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.
Leviticus 2:11No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the Lord, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the Lord made by fire.
Leviticus 20:24But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people.
Numbers 13:27And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
Numbers 14:8If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
Numbers 16:13Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?
Numbers 16:14Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up.
Deuteronomy 6:3Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.
Deuteronomy 8:8A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;
Deuteronomy 11:9And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
Deuteronomy 26:9And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey.
Deuteronomy 26:15Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
Deuteronomy 27:3And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee.
Deuteronomy 31:20For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant.
Deuteronomy 32:13He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock;
Joshua 5:6For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: unto whom the Lord sware that he would not shew them the land, which the Lord sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
Judges 14:8And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.
Judges 14:9And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.
Judges 14:18And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion? and he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.
1 Samuel 14:25And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.
1 Samuel 14:26And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath.
1 Samuel 14:27But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in a honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened.
1 Samuel 14:29Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.
1 Samuel 14:43Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.
2 Samuel 17:29And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness.
1 Kings 14:3And take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of the child.
2 Kings 18:32Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil olive and of honey, that ye may live, and not die: and hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuadeth you, saying, The Lord will deliver us.
2 Chronicles 31:5And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the first fruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.
Job 20:17He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter.
Psalm 19:10More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Psalm 81:16He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.
Psalm 119:103How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Proverbs 5:3For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:
Proverbs 16:24Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
Proverbs 24:13My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste:
Proverbs 25:16Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
Proverbs 25:27It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.
Proverbs 27:7The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
Song of Solomon 4:11Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.
Song of Solomon 5:1I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
Isaiah 7:15Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
Isaiah 7:22And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.
Jeremiah 11:5That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O Lord.
Jeremiah 32:22And hast given them this land, which thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey;
Jeremiah 41:8But ten men were found among them that said unto Ishmael, Slay us not: for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey. So he forbare, and slew them not among their brethren.
Ezekiel 3:3And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.
Ezekiel 16:13Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.
Ezekiel 16:19My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour: and thus it was, saith the Lord God.
Ezekiel 20:15Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands;
Ezekiel 27:17Judah, and the land of Israel, they were thy merchants: they traded in thy market wheat of Minnith, and Pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm.
Matthew 3:4And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
Mark 1:6And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
Luke 24:42And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
Revelation 10:9And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
Revelation 10:10And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.

Beekeeper Paul

Hello there! I'm the beekeeping hobbyist behind HoneybeeHobbyist.com. I'm fascinated by all things bees and I'm fueled by the honey I get to enjoy from my very own hives.

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