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Jupiter and the Bee, Roman myth Illustration

Jupiter and the Bee

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There are many stories and myths about Jupiter, king of the Roman gods.  One of my favorite stories is Jupiter and the Bee or Be Careful What You Wish For.

As the story goes ..... Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a little bee who was getting very tired of having animals and people steal his honey. If he only had a weapon, a way to fight off the thieves. He wished and wished, and prayed and prayed, but the gods did not grant his request. One day, he decided to ask Jupiter, king of all the gods, for help. He would have asked a lesser god, but Jupiter was the only god he knew how to find. 

The little bee flew up to the heavens and buzzed and buzzed until he caught Jupiter's attention. "My king," he buzzed. "I have brought you a gift of honey!"

One taste and Jupiter's face lit with delight. "What a wonderful gift!" Jupiter smiled. "What can I do for you, little bee?"

Quivering with fear, but determined to try, the bee explained his problem.

"Hum," mused Jupiter, which sounded very wise. Actually, he had no idea what he could do to help. Such a delicious taste was sure to be popular. In fact, he would very much like more of this honey himself.

"I was thinking," the little bee buzzed nervously, "I could guard my honey myself if I had a weapon. Something like a stinger!"

Jupiter's face grew angry. "You would sting the gods? You would sting ME?"

"Oh no," cried the little bee. He jerked back in alarm. He nearly squashed himself flat when he rammed into Juno, queen of all the gods, who was listening nearby.  Jupiter offered his wife a taste of honey. 

"Such a wonderful taste needs protection!" Juno agreed. "I suggest you give EVERY bee a stinger. Of course there must be a payment. I know! Any bee who uses your gift must pay for it with their life. That way, each bee has a choice - protect and die, or share."

"Oh no!" cried the little bee.  But Jupiter was already nodding.

"As always my love, a brilliant idea. (Jupiter would do just about anything to keep Juno happy. This was such a small request, compared to most.) With a wave of his hand, it was done. "There you go, little bee. Your wish is granted."

"Thank you mighty Jupiter, thank you my queen," the little bee gasped, trying without much success to sound grateful for his gift. He flew quickly away, then sunk back to Earth. For nearly two days, he hid behind his beehive, hoping the other bees would ignore him forever. He knew they would not be happy with him when they heard the news. It was quite noisy at home. All the bees were buzzing about, showing off their new stingers. No one noticed him at first, hiding behind his beehive. But finally, a swarm encircled him. A loud buzzing erupted when he told them what he had done. But bees are loyal. They knew he had tried to help. As their queen pointed out, they did have a choice, which was something to be grateful for. Besides, perhaps this gift would not last. Some gifts the gods gave disappeared after a while. 

Sadly, this gift did not go away. Even today, any bee who uses his stinger has to pay with his life.
 

Roman Myth: Jupiter, Juno, and Little Io

Differences and Similarities between Zeus and Jupiter

More Roman Myths

The Truth About Myths

Return to the Roman God Index