International Order of Odd Fellows Or Masonic Fraternal Lodge Wooden Symbolic Skep Bee Hive

circa 1890
The bee skep symbolized industriousness and wisdom.

Victorian Cabinet Card Occupational Photograph

circa 1880 Lock Haven, PA
Dry Good & Notion Seller with Skep Bee Hive Sign

Tea Cup

circa 1820

This fine porcelain tea cup dates back to the time of President James Monroe. Not painted but hand applied transfer ware, this little cup has no handle, as was the custom. The bee skep hive is boldly depicted though flying bees are crudely drawn.

Foley's Honey & Tar Medicine

circa 1900 

Foley's Honey and Tar quack medicinal bottle from Chicago Illinois, was made around the time of President Teddy Roosevelt. It was used as a "cure" for colds and lung ailments. Claiming no opiates, it was recommended for children. The tar ingredient was mostly pine sap though it was 14 proof alcohol and especially popular during the Great Influenza epidemic of 1918.

North Carolina Ten Cent Note


Helping to fund the Civil War, cash strapped North Carolina issued paper money currency. More a bond then cash, it was meant to be redeemed after the War of Northern Aggression was won? Minted in Augusta Georgia the bees and skep hive are well executed.

Honeysuckle and the Bee

circa 1908

Honeysuckle and the Bee was a Love song written at the dawn of the Edwardian era, 1901  and has continued popular late into the 20th century.  A favorite of the Little Tramp Charlie Chaplin and performed by singing legends such as Julie Andrews,  this enduring ditty was originally the theme of London Stage Play Bluebell in FairyLand. It is still a Youtube favorite.  It was comically  lampooned on many early divided back postcards  in both Europe and America circa 1908.

On a summer afternoon, 

Where the honeysuckles bloom, 

When all nature seemed at rest. 

‘Neath a little rustic bower, 

Mid the perfume of the flower, 

A maiden sat with one she loved the best. 

As they sang the songs of love, 

From the arbour just above, 

Came a bee which lit upon the vine; 

As it sipped the honey-dew, 

They both vowed they would be true, 

Then he whispered to her words she thought divine.       

You are my honey, honeysuckle, 

I am the bee, 

I’d like to sip the honey sweet

From those red lips, you see 

I love you dearly, dearly, 

And I want you to love me, 

You are my honey, honeysuckle, 

I am the bee

SPECIAL HIGHLIGHT: Bee themed antiques

Collecting Bee Themed Antiques 

Though a relative neophyte to bee keeping, I have been a professional antique dealer for almost 2 decades. My specialty niches are antique pet supplies such as 19th bird cages and old Veterinary collectibles and Victorian mourning jewelry and early funeral collectibles. Strange things but sales from my New Hope shop are global, including Hollywood, major Museums and Madison ave. media. My passion though is searching out interesting Bee themed antiques. I’d  like to highlight a few artifacts from my stash in hope that you too may catch the “bug” of collecting bee themed antiques.

Honey bees sure have been around a long time and as long as Man has observed them he has memorialized them on his highest forms of art and his most common utensils.  The bee image is easily recognized and widespread. Collecting interesting bee themed antiques is fun and often relatively inexpensive though great rarities certainly exist. The bees or honey references can be found on pottery, old glass, stamps, art work, currency, textiles, porcelain, tools and books. This widespread availability makes the hunt fun and specialty collection make for spectacular displays. A recent display of mine at our Bucks County Beekeepers booth at the New Hope Freedom Fest was well received.

Greg Cristiano

BCBA Member