Sixty Bees of Separation

November 25, 2007

European Tour 3214Found this little beauty in the Piazza Santissima Annunziata in Florence, 60 bees surrounding their queen on the rear side of the statue  of Ferdinando I by Giambologna (at right). I’m including the pictures of the monkey fountain, which was in the same plaza, just because it was so cool looking. Bee Relevance: 0

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According to the plaque, the bees-around-queen design were chosen to “extol the generosity of the grand ducal government”. It’s a bit of a funny use of bee symbolism, if you ask me, as if the queen is providing for her subjects in some way, whereas my take on the hive dynamic is the opposite: the whole hive takes care of the queen.

The Mormons, I think, used the bee symbol a bit more accurately: productive and self-sufficient. According to Mormon theology, “Deseret” means “honeybee” in the language of the Jaredites, a group that came to the Americas when the Tower of Babel was being built, and Deseret was the name of the “state” led by Brigham Young before Utah was incorporated. The Freemasons have a similar take, regarding bees as a symbol of “industry and cooperation”.

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