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Bee Stinger Tale

As told by Wolf-Walker Conley, Powwaw: Several years ago, I attended a tribal gathering. At this event I made fast friends with an old fellow that raises bees. He sells their nature sweet gold when in season and tends them when not, a natural rhythm of life. He reminded me of a tale I once heard as a child regarding bees and their stingers.


“Long ago people had the ability to speak with all creatures. The Creator saw this as a needed skill, so that all his children could co-exist in harmony. The great Creator would roam the earth, stopping to visit his various people to ensure life was good for them. The two-legged people asked the Creator one day for something that would sweeten their food. After much thought, the Creator formed the Bee and sent it down to the Mother Earth.


The Bee was unlike the bees we know today for it had no stinger and was friendly. The Bee found a huge hollow tree in which it could build a hive, make honey and feed its offspring. After building the hive, the people came to the Bee and asked for some of the sweet honey and the Bee gave each person a portion of their honey. The people greatly enjoyed the honey, devouring all that was given and then went back to the Bee for more. The Bee replied that they had no more to give until they could make more. The people became angry and they called upon Creator telling him of their plight and demanding the Bees produce more of the sweet golden liquid. The Creator was not accustom to others making demands of him, but he listened and to decided sent down the Flower People to help keep peace.   


The Flower People spread flowers of every shape and size across the land, thus giving the Bees all the flowers they needed to create more honey without having to travel far. The Flower People’s beautiful flowers attracted the Bees with their bright blue, red, white, orange, purple and yellow blossoms. More Bees were created to help pollinate the great array of flowers. Their hive grew to be of immense proportions. The people could finally get their desired honey again. The Bees gladly gave most of the honey to the people leaving enough to feed their offspring and maintain the hive. The people devoured the honey that was given, but when it was gone demanded more. The Bees explained to them once again that they would have to wait for more to be made.


The people were angry and yelled at the Flower People to make more flowers, thinking that this would cause the Bees to be able to quickly make more honey. The Flower People told the people that they had made all the flowers they could and they were all pollinated. “You will have to wait until Spring.” The people became extremely upset, they went back to the bee’s hive and tore into the hollow tree destroying the hive and killing most of the Bees. Their reward was but a small amount of honey the Bees had been saving to feed their young. The remaining Bees asked the Creator what to do. The Creator was angry with the people for destroying his creation, so he had the Flower People spread special briar plants to grow and instructed the Bees to eat the sharp needles of the briar plants.


The Bees did as the Creator instructed and the briars they ate turned into stingers on their bottoms. The following day the people returned demanding more honey. The Bees were threatened that the home would be destroyed again if they did not give the people the much desired honey. The Bees became enraged, recalled the senseless killing of their young the day before. The people suddenly heard a loud hum from deep inside the hollow tree and the air filled with swarming bees. The Bees attacked the people, stinging them until they were covered in welts and sent running.


Forever after that day, the two-legged people treated the Bees with respect, taking no more than they needed. Their greed became a lesson in respect and they were taught the importance of understanding the cycles of life must be honored.”


Did You Know: Stingless bees actually exist and are sometimes called stingless honey bees or simply meliponines. They belong to a large group of bees (about 500 species), comprising the tribe Meliponini or subtribe Meliponina according to some authors. They belong in the family Apidae, and are closely related to common honey bees, carpenter bees, orchid bees, and bumblebees.

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