EsoTerracisms: Beekeeping – JP017

We travel to the beginning of time to learn about Keeping the Tears of Ra (Beekeeping), while reflecting on our own experiences with keeping bees in college.

Asante Sana ߊߛߊ߲ߕߌ ߛߣߊ
edase Paa   ߡߍߘߊߛߋ ߔߊ
Modupe O
ߡߏߘߎߔߋ ߏ

Thank you for listening to



I am Mason Olonade and this is Jìgìjìgì: Africulture Podcast. Here we believe building a healthy soil builds a healthy soul so we share strategies for how to do both. To do both we ask two questions: How do you grow while you grow Kale, Collards, Tomatoes, and Melons. And wh do you think the healthiest soils are Black?
I had no idea, prior to the production of this episode that this episode would become an esoterracisms episode. I quote myself in saying “everyone knows about beekeeping by now, and surely no new information could about its importance or relevance to our soils and souls could be found.” How naive I was. How glad I am to have been that naive, that naivete is to be cherished and explored and it therefore as my opinion becomes my obligation, to share with my naivete brought me.
I will therefore be quoting liberally from the Tears of Re by Gene Kritsky. “The god Ra wept and the tears from his eyes fell on the ground and turned into a bee. The bee made his honeycomb and busied himself with the flowers of every plant and so wax was made and also honey out of the Tears of Ra.”
At Jigijigi we make a habit of consistently realizing Sankofa as a verb not just poignancy. That is not to say we haven't been rendered fully poignant by the work of our ancestors, it is to say that we will be using our proper tongue and calling us by our names and future quotations we're supplanted the misnomer Re with Ra, Egypt and Egyptian with Kemet and Kemeti.
Slight perusal let us out of our naivete and so we continue to share our spoils quoting again. Planting the variety of food crops raised in ancient Kemet required a vast knowledge of propagation techniques. Date palms were started by rooting basal offshoots whereas Sycamore figs, where as the Sycamore fig was started by rooting cut twigs. Other plans for grafted, started from bulbs, or planted as seeds. Further evidence of the Ancient Kemeti horticultural sophistication is demonstrated by their cultivation of the Sycamore fig. The wasp required for the pollination of the imported plant was not present in Kemet, which required their growers to induce ripening by scarifications scoring the rind of the immature fruit the wound caused the fruit to release ethylene gas, inducing the immature fruit to quickly grow and ripen into a parthenocarpic or unfertilized fruit. Did this knowledge also extends to an understanding of the role that these play played in food production that the Ancient Kemeti gardeners understand the concept of pollination?
The Salt 825 papyrus written approximately 2300 years ago indicated the Kemeti knew that there was a link between bees and plants. The papyrus reads that the bees quote busy themselves with the flowers of every plant. Other translations of the Salt Papyrus seemed to confirm the association of the honey bee with flowers. Manasseh’s more recent translation reads, “as soon as all the bees had been fashioned it's work in the flowers of all the fields came into existence.” Crane translated Duchene's French interpretation as, “its task was to work on the flowers of every plant.” More over the next sentence of the Salt Papyrus shows that the Kemeti knew that the work on the flowers was necessary for honey production the various translations read “and so wax was made and also honey,” or “it means that beeswax came into being, it means that honey came into being from the liquid,” or, “that is how wax came to be and that is how honey came to be.”
The honey bee-plant association may be central to the interpretation of the tomb of Ankh-Hor. What remains of the relief shows a man holding his hand in a gesture summoning the bees on the other side of the tree. This relief may be the earliest recognition that honeybees worked plants in order to produce honey predating the Salt Papyrus by 350 years close quote.
Now there is a large vocalization from people about saving the bees, their connection to our food systems and those people do a very good job at shaming the common man into green compliance. I'm not fully deriding them of course there is never a one and only way as we just learned with the Kemeti fig propagation system. To reground and re-familiarize humans keep bees to fertilize our crops and to obtain their honey and in some cases propolis, wax, and bee pollen.
I had the pleasure of taking a beekeeping class one semester and proudly made it through without getting stung. I still have two 16 oz jars of Honey leftover. One for personal consumption and the other, the second to become a family heirloom. The third jar I gave to my parents who devoured it in a week.
One particularly interesting procedure that must be performed is smoking out the bees. Smoking out the bees is used to give access to the hive there are many speculations as to what happens to the bees but from experience the bees evacuate and generally seem confused. This confusion causes them to scatter without stinging, giving us the opportunity to inspect and at the end of the season collect the hone.y Quoting again from the Tears of Ra.
The Riches of the 18th Dynasty included several tombs and other discoveries that Amenhetep, the overseer of the cattle of Amen, the superintendent of the work of the two large tekken or obelisks of them in and chief steward and warrior of the king. Amenhetep’s tomb contains a badly damaged beekeeping scene on the sub register of the northeast wall. The scene is significant as it is possibly the oldest depiction of using a censor a clay bowl that was used to hold incense or some kind of fuel to produce smoke as an offering of incense to the bees. If incense was used as an offering the smoke may have quieted the bees giving the impression that these important insects appreciated the gift. As such the Kemeti beekeepers may have discovered the technique of smoking the bees to calm them as an accidental side effect of religious ritual.

Again in the Tomb of Rehkmire, a court vizier, today's equivalent of prime minister had another depiction of Kemeti beekeepers. One man is standing and holding a censor that is producing smoke either to quiet the babies or as an offering to them. Next to him is a kneeling man who is removing a section of rounded white honeycomb and placing it into bowls that are resting on the platform. Behind the man holding the sensor and toward the top of the scene is a large red bowl with a pronounced rim overflowing with crushed honeycomb close quote.
Because we used the Box beehives the Honeycombs would be within the rectangular wooden frames. After we smoked out all the bees with take the honeyladen frames, load them into an enormous centrifuge that would then spin the honey on to the wall and at the bottom we’d turn the handle and out of the spigot would flow our golden reward.
Looking at how it was done in the past made me really consider what incense was it that they offered to the bees? Would different incenses of different plants offer different behaviors resulting from that offering? Regardless of what plant offered what, the answer is yes because the keepers of the Tears of Ra were wearing just linen around their waist and legs not the full Tyvek jumpsuits that we use today.
 In the Journal of Insect Science in 2018 it was found that dry cones of hops the flavoring ingredient in beer contains a sedative chemical lupulin, that may be responsible for the production of release of a venom droplet in response to perturbation of bees. So it is definitely a question, and therefore an experiment worth pursuing: What other types of incense beyond female hops flowers can we use to harvest honey and their other products so that we don't have to wear the extremely uncomfortable and hot Tyvek suits? What other types of incense should we offer to the bees in thanks, in gratitude, in recognition and in appreciation of helping us build our black soils?
A caveat that I will add is that the bees studied were not the Africanized honey bees. It would be interesting to see if this would work on the honeybee present in modern-day Egypt and likely in Kemet. For those of us who would prefer to not experiment and would like to bump up our pollinator populations you can do two things. First listen again to our episode Compost to learn how to grow your own hoverflies. And secondly listen to the Urban Farm Podcast episode on Native Bees. Despite our usage of them in North America the honey bee could be considered an invasive species. Luckily for us, honey bees are pretty indiscriminate when it comes to gathering nectar. However, if you do like to garden with native plants, native bees are the population that you need to be focused on building.
Earlier this summer after listening to that native bees episode I saw a grey bug I hadn't ever seen before near my corn. I later identified it as a leaf cutting bee. It will be a very special and glorious day when my garden or Farm becomes home for the local Mason bee. Are you a keeper of the Tears of Ra? Would you like to share your stories with your Siblings of the Soil? Email me Mason at o l o n a. De
Share Jigijigi with your friends family and closely related siblings of the soil and we will say then as we say now Asante Sana, Medase Pa, Modupe O! Thank you for listening to Jìgìjìgì.