Bee Stories Beyond the Blood of Angels

From the books that were selected to the second edition of The Other Side in Barcelona, only chapter IV in the book of Georgics and The Life of the Bee by Maurice Maeterlinck (1901/1914) are entirely dedicated to the bee. The book of Maeterlinck is a classic among bee lovers. It was extremely difficult to choose the fragment from such a complete masterwork that does not forget a single detail of the life and organisation of a bee colony. This is why later, in Geneva, a second fragment was added to the selection. The Life of the Bee is philosophical but, is rooted in practice and observation. Maeterlinck tells of having bees in Normandy, France, where he started to write the novel in 1899. To be open to the language of bees, Maeterlinck suggests, is to become bee-like in one’s observations, adopting freer patterns of thought than the more fixed trajectories of scientific enquiry (Murray, 2017, 3).

The Finnish epic story of Kalevala, that Elias Lönnrot published in 1835, has plenty of references to bees. I was not totally convinced about using Kalevala, this maybe because I find the old Finnish poems sometimes too heavy to read or listen to. Reading the same poems in English or in Spanish helped me find their magic; the translations into other languages gave me a new insight to the tales and extended the scope of The Other Side. The fifteenth poem about the warrior Lemminkäinen, his mother and the bee was a perfect match.