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Arts & Culture

Bees in the medieval world: economic, environmental and cultural perspectives


Believed to originate in Paradise and set apart in their chastity, bees were potent religious symbols in medieval Christianity and Islam. This was of great economic consequence: beeswax candles were necessary for the Mass, and honey was a highly sought after commodity in Muslim lands.

This project explores how cultural ideas of the bee drove a far-flung and expansive trade in wax and honey, encouraging beekeeping on a vast scale, and revealing the impact of religious consumption on economy and environment in the pre-modern world.

Project status: Ongoing

Principal Investigator


Funding Body: Leverhulme Trust

Amount: £387,679

Period: January 2018 - December 2021