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  • Updated 4 November 2008
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Bees

Honey-making insects

Buzzing domestic insects kept for their ability to make honey. Particularly famous were those of Beorn, which he kept in straw-roofed hives, and which reached an enormous size. Beorn's liking for honey was no doubt due to his bear-nature, and indeed his name partly derives from béo, an old word for 'bee'.

It's clear that bees lived far afield in Middle-earth, but our other encounters with them are mainly in the form of metaphors and allusions: for example, the aroma of the healing herb athelas was said to recall the smell of heather on a summer's day busy with bees. Hobbits were said to be able to mirror the industry of bees, too, when the need arose. More ominously, the outlaws of the Gaurwaith likened their prey among the Woodmen to hive-bees: when angered and banded together, they made a formidable foe.


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