The greek beekeepergod Aristaeus
The god is normaly described as the son of Apollo and the nymph Cyrene. He was the patron of hunting, agriculture and cattle-breeding. He taught mankind beekeeping, vineculture and olive cultivation.
The Roman poet Virgilius (Virgil) tells the story, that one day Aristaeus pursued Eurydice - the wife of Orpheus. On the run from Aristaeus she was bitten by a snake and died. The nymphs killed the bees of Aristaeus to punish him. To make it up with the nymphs Aristaeus slaughtered four bulls and four cows and he left the dead bodys for eight days. On the morning of the ninth day bees swarmed around the animals bodies.
Beekeepers can learn from this story, that they don't have to pursue another man's wife.
You can find the story of bees made homes in the dead bodies of cows, etc. not only in Greek mythology. For example you find it too in storys about the bull "Apis" of the old Egyptians. There are also stories about the soul that left a human body in the shape of a bee. The Egyptians thought it was a bird.
Now we know, that the insects around dead bodys are meat flys and not bees. But in ancient times (c. 4000 years ago) they made no difference between bees, wasps, flys, butterflys.
by Jan de Crom
taken from "The Postal Bee" 1/1998
Contact Group Bee Philately