13 NOVEMBER 1909, Page 19


[To THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR."] SIR,—Having read several letters in the Spectator on the subject of bees, and recalling the superstition connected with tying crape on the top of the hive when a death takes place in the family, it occurred to me—Kashmir being a country where bee-keeping is almost universal—that I might by making inquiries find out if the same idea was prevalent here. The Lumbadar of the village was sent for, and by means of a highly intelligent interpreter I discovered the following details. If a member of the family dies, the owner or head of the house puts a piece of black cloth over the entrance to the hive (which is constructed out of a kilta, or mud-covered basket), and for two months subsequent to, the burial the bees are thus kept within to feed on the honey, and only liberated at the expiration of that time. On, inquiring the reason of this, it was explained that the spirit of the dead would frighten the bees, who would then either forsake their hive or die.

This more than corroborates the Western superstition, which appears in a more definite form here in the East, and it is an interesting fact that the same belief should be the mutual property of the educated bee-keeper at home and the primitive native of " far Kashmir."—I am, Sir, &c.,