Tuesday, August 21, 2012

i like bees.

I just got a new tattoo! It's been a few weeks now, but she is all healed up and looking just lovely.

She is Apis Mellifera Ligustica.

You might know her as Italian Honeybee, which has been the most common honeybee in the western hemisphere since the colonial settlers first brought them across the ocean. This particular design, on which my tattoo is based, was taken directly from a 1910 Encyclopedia Britannica woodblock print.

"Why a bee?", you might be asking. This is a question I've heard more times than I care to count over these past few weeks.

I could ramble on about the deep-rooted symbolism of honeybees; how in cultures all around the world, they represent industry, harmony and loyalty. Or I could link this lovely beauty on my forearm to divine feminine energy (most of the bees that run a bustling hive are female, after all). I could also go on and on about how important honey bees are to agriculture and how crucial they are in feeding all of humanity. Or I could advise the curious folks to simply look around at state flags, town seals, common house adornments...even the Hindu Krishna, to find for themselves the significance of bees in this land of "milk and honey".

But I will most likely do none of this. A while back, I read an interesting article written by a famous tattoo artist which spoke to the symbolism of tattoos. The basic observation was that people often over-analyze their own tattoos and even tend to romanticize and embelish their meaning; I'm guessing in an effort to justifying the ink (either to themselves or to others..who knows!).

I, however, do not feel the need to do this. And while I may have just touched on some of the fundamental reasons for my love of the honeybee, I think that when it comes to tattoos, sometimes a bee is just a bee. And if you happen to ask me, "Why a bee?", I will likely respond with the most simple, direct and honest answer I can think of: "I like bees."


  1. Beeeeee! How awesome! Your tattoo is so cool, I had a moment of "why didn't I think of that!" I love bees. For all the reasons you listed and more. They're fascinating little creatures. I like hot summers sitting on the porch with hummingbirds and honey bees buzzing around. it's the yellow jackets that get angry. Boo! But honey bees I could sneak up on and get macro shots if I wanted.

    I got two tattoos at once for my birthday. One, my maiden name family motto, the other a favorite saying. Both are hard to explain because one is in Latin and the other is itself an excuse to have a million reasons. It's a quote from a philosopher - of course it's complicated! I think just saying "I like it" is a great answer, may be one I should use myself.

  2. ooooooh! it's so great to hear of someone else that shares an odd interest in bees! the inside of my other forearm is open, and i am trying to resist the desire to have a skep (in the same black+white woodblock style) tattooed there . . .for fear of being too hokey! ugh. but i believe i will stick with the agriculture/ black+ white/ woodblock theme, so it will be a skep or a beetroot! your tattoos sound great! i checked them out on your blog. they look really great, and even better. . .they speak about you and your family heritage! tattoos are just the greatest, aren't they?