Bee (mitsubachi)

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Bee (mitsubachi, hachi )

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Various, see below
***** Category: Animal


The honey bee (mitsubachi ミツバチ、蜜蜂) is man’s oldest friend on earth, probably.

Although we see them throughout the year till late autumn, and they are most active in summer with all blossoms out, as a KIGO, they come in the SPRING season, when we see the first ones again. They express the joy of the life circle starting anew.

From a page about Plum Blossoms with awsome pictures.
Thank you, Wada san.


Bees and related insects
kigo for all spring

mitsubachi 蜜蜂(みつばち) honey bee
kobanabachi 小花蜂(こばなばち) "bee on small blossoms)
kumabachi 熊蜂(くまばち)carpenter bee
ashinagabachi 足長蜂(あしながばち)"bee with long legs" (a kind of wasp, Fam. Polystes)

himebachi 姫蜂(ひめばち)"princess bee", ichneumon
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

kibachi 黄蜂(きばち)"yellow bee"

suzumebachi 雀蜂(すずめばち)hornet, Fam. Vespidae
kurosuzumebach 黒雀蜂(くろすずめばち)black hornet
yamabachi 山蜂(やまばち)"mountain bee", kind of hornet

jigabachi 似我蜂(じがばち)digger wasp
jibachi 地蜂(じばち)wasp, earth wasp, Vespula flaviceps
tsuchibachi 土蜂(つちばち), anabachi 穴蜂(あなばち)
tokuribachi 徳利蜂(とくりばち)"wasp like a tokkuri sake flask",

jooobachi 女王蜂(じょおうばち)queen bee
obachi 雄蜂(おばち)drone, male bee
hatarakibachi 働蜂(はたらきばち)worker bee

hachi kau 蜂飼う(はちかう)keeping bees, beekeeping

hachi no ken 蜂の剣(はちのけん)stinger of the bee
hachi no hari 蜂の針(はちのはり)needle of the bee

hachi no ko 蜂の子(はちのこ)、
蜂の王(はちのおう) larva of the bee

hachi no su 蜂の巣 (はちのす) bee hive
... hachi no su 蜂の窩(はちのす)
hachi no hako 蜂の箱(はちのはこ) box to keep bees, Bienenkorb
subachi 巣蜂(すばち) bee in a hive

Swarming is the natural means of reproduction of honey bee colonies. A new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees, a process called swarming. In the prime swarm, about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen. This swarm can contain thousands to tens of thousands of bees. Swarming is mainly a spring phenomenon, usually within a two- or three-week period depending on the locale, but occasional swarms can happen throughout the producing season.
. More in the WIKIPEDIA !


kigo for all autumn

aki no hachi 秋の蜂 (あきのはち) bee in autumn

kigo for late autumn

hachi no ko 蜂の仔 (はちのこ) bee and wasp larvae
jibachi yaki 地蜂焼(じばちやき)roasted bee larvae
hachi no ko meshi 蜂の子飯(はちのこめし) rice with bee larvae

Autumn food


kigo for all winter

fuyu no hachi 冬の蜂 (ふゆのはち) bee in winter
... fuyubachi 冬蜂(ふゆばち)"winter bee"
itebachi 凍蜂(いてばち)bee in the cold, freezing bee

fuyubachi no shinidokoro naku arukikeri

a winter bee
with no place to die
keeps walking

. Murakami Kijoo 村上鬼城 Murakami Kijo .


sweat bee, kenaga chibi kohanabachi
Lasioglossum villosulum trichopse

sweat bee --
a sheen of sap shines
on the tree leaf

"chibi" (pen-name for Dennis M. Holmes)      


'Meat bee' would probably be an early autumn kigo.

"When weather gets colder (Sept-October), food resources get scarce; this is when yellowjackets would come to your picnic, trying to take a sip from your coke, or a bite from your burger meat (honey bees never show these behaviors). Some people call them "meat bees" even though they are not bees. Stinging incidents are highest during this time of the year. They are often seen eating fallen apples and other
And they can sting multiple times without dying from doing it.


Some Animal Facts
Honey bees are in the class Insecta. There are approximately 20,000 species of bees within the order Hymenoptera, of which only seven species are recognized as honey bees. Honey bees and belong in the family Apidae.

Originally found only in Europe, honey bees are now naturalized worldwide. They were domesticated over 200 years ago in the United States for honey production and pollination.
In the wild, honey bees nest in tree hollows or other cavities. They are commercially bred worldwide for pollination of flowering plants and for honey production.

Fascinating Facts
Beekeeping was practiced in ancient Egypt as early as 2500 B.C.!
One pound (.45 kg) of honey equals the life work of approximately 300 bees and a flight distance of two to three times around the earth!
Honey tastes different depending on the type of flowers the bee visits!

The treatment with bee products is called Apitherapy. I am a specialist in that field and can only recommend it to keep fit and busy like a bee.

Other animals of the Bee family are
hornets, wasps, jellow jackets, bumble bees and so on.
They are all kigo for all spring.
and beekeeper are also kigo for this season.

Honeywine , mead, one of my favorite bee products, is a kigo for winter.
Mead is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages of humankind. It has been made in Ethiopia for many thousand years.

Gabi Greve

Worldwide use


The Honey Bee is an introduced social insect. Worker bees visit flowers in search of pollen during the summer months, and may sting if handled or caught in clothing. They are particularly attracted to clover flowers, so it is wise to be cautious if walking through clover patches. Like wasps, Honey Bees will vigorously defend their nests.

More about Australian Bees is here:
Copyright © Australian Museum, 2003

plucked to safety
by the hand of fate . . .
drowning bee

Richard Kay, Australia

Over here we don't have winter snow and a subsequent spring thaw, we see the bees all year round, but they are prolific in summer.
They are a kigo for summer.

Richard Kay, Australia


Manuka Honey from New Zealand is especially famous for its medical properties.

Things found on the way

hayajimo ya kabocha no hana ni hachi nemuru

a bee asleep
in the squash blossom
early frost

This haiku was chosen for third place in spite of the fact it has three different seasonal references. Actually, this is it's true appeal insofar as being a classic transition haiku. How skillfully Joyce has taken her readers from the summer season (bee), to the autumn season (squash blossom), to the winter season (early frost). There is no self in this haiku, but the author is definately present. She takes us from the surface where the bee was, to the depth the bee sought, and yet even deeper into the seasonal change until we end up actually becoming that bee itself . . .
an'ya Haiga Online


. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

mitsu-bachi ya tonari ni kaseba arare-bachi

honeybees lend
their nest to neighbors --
angry hornets  

Tr. Chris Drake

This ironic spring hokku is from the 3rd month (April) of 1824, when Issa was in his hometown and traveling to nearby towns. In the previous hokku in Issa's diary, he writes about honeybees making a nest or hive under the eaves or roof of the gate (or possibly in the area above the front door), so I assume this hokku is also about the same gate. Japanese honeybees migrate to a new area if the nectar and pollen near their nest runs out, and the bees nesting in the gate seem to have moved on, leaving their nest behind for the neighbors to use.

Unfortunately, some hornets in the neighborhood noticed and have moved in. Japanese honeybees and hornets are natural enemies, and hornets prey on bees whenever they can. In response, Japanese honeybees have developed a system of group defense in which they swarm and kill any hornet that tries to come near a nest. Imported European honeybees have not developed this defense, and whole colonies can be quickly destroyed by Japanese hornets. Perhaps the hornets in Issa's hokku have been trying to get at the honey and pollen in the nest for some time but were only able to move into the nest after the bees migrated elsewhere.

Presumably Issa says "lend" because the bees left first and entrusted their neighbors with the nest -- though probably the bees weren't thinking of hornets. In any case, the hornets are much more aggressive than the bees, and they now threaten Issa and other humans who go through the gate or door. Issa obviously prefers the kinder, more sociable, less aggressive bees.

For the group defense against hornets developed by Japanese honeybees, see:
source : science/article/2012-03

Chris Drake

- - - - -

yama-zumi ya hachi ni mo narete yuumakura

in the mountains
I get used to sleeping
with wasps

Tr. Chris Drake

Written in the 2nd month (March) of 1810, when Issa was traveling around in the area just east of Edo in what is now called Chiba Prefecture. He writes often of cherry blossoms and wild geese leaving for the north and of farmers burning old grass in spring fields. He also stayed in the mountains (either in a village in a valley or on a mountain) for a few days and needed to get used to the house he was staying in. I think the first line, "living in the mountains," probably refers both to his host, the owner, who lives in the house permanently (and who is probably one of his followers), as well as to Issa's own temporary stay.

Somewhere in the eaves of the rough house is a nest of stinging insects (hachi). In the previous hokku in his diary Issa calls them yamabachi, or Vespinae, wasps/hornets, and he seems to be talking about the same house in this hokku. Issa says "even wasps," so he's also referring to the whole experience of sleeping at night in the house.

Issa seems to imply that learning to trust the wasps not to sting him when he was going to sleep was a bit difficult. Hard-earned, difficult trust is behind a lot of Issa's writing.

Chris Drake

. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .


empty teacup –
left in the garden,
hum of bees

Ryuuseki Takiguchi
floatingstone.net 2004


Die Sonne sank schon.
Verstreut auf dem Schnee
tote Bienen.

Sun already set.
Here and there on the snow
dead bees.

(Tr. Gabi Greve)

Volker Friebel
Sa. 24.01.2004,


from deep within
the peony pistils -- withdrawing
regretfully the bee

in Basho's travel diary
Skeleton in the Fields (Nozarashi kiko).



the German Shepherd—
not sure whether to chase or

flee the bumblebee

gK c 2004.05.28


a beehive--
safe on Saint Jizo's

hachi no su ya Jizô bosatsu no on-hiji ni




move aside
horseflies and bees!
lotus are blooming

abu-bachi mo sotchi noke noke hasu no hana


a blooming pink--
the big bee
stings it!

nadeshiko ga ôki na hachi ni sasare keri



buzzing free
through spring breeze
a humble bumblebee ~

Narayanan Raghunathan

© Photo Gabi Greve, 2006
Spring in India


Vidur Jyoti

in the honeycomb
venom in sting

Vidur Jyoti, India, February 2008


leaking hive --
honey drips onto
my dry lips

Brian Etole
Kenya, October 2010


a helpless bee is caught
on wet paint

Antony Mwangi
Kenya, March 2011


rising sun -
a bee sniffling from one
sunflower to another

Sibiko Yamame
Kenya, January 2011


hornet sting -
how slowly the poison
invades my body

Gabi Greve, October 2011


withered garden --
never thought
i would miss the bees

shared by Alan Pizzarelli - June 2013

Related words

***** winter bee, winter wasp : fuyu no hachi 冬の蜂 
Kigo for Winter

***** frozen bee or wasp : itebachi 凍蜂 
Kigo for Winter

***** Winter butterfly, freezing butterfly (fuyu no choo, itechoo)


Konchu Ryori, konchuu ryoori 昆虫料理 Insects as food

Hachi no ko 蜂の仔(はちのこ, 蜂の子)
bee and wasp larvae

fried bee larvae, jibachi yaki 地蜂焼(じばちやき)
rice with bee larvae, hachi no ko meshi 蜂の子飯(はちのこめし)

kigo for late autumn


a play with words

mitsubachi no hi - day of the bee
eighth day of the third month

hachimitsu no hi - day of honey
third day of the eighth month



Gabi Greve said...

praying monks
humming bees
collecting nectar

Dr. Vidur Jyoti, WHCindia, 2006


Anonymous said...

Almost unnoticed
the dying bee on the path
scatters its pollen

Mr. Brian Wells, UK


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading the haiku.

Zhanna P. Rader

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gabi san
You have presented a wonderful haiku collection and superb photographs in your blog.
I am indebted
regards vidur

Anonymous said...


sunset now earlier
getting bogged down by lily..
wild bee

© Heike Gewi, Yemen

Ella Wagemakers said...

I love your lotus blossom picture the best!

humming overtime
in a field of lavender
a worker bee

:>) Ella

Anonymous said...

‘World Apitherapy Day’ - March 30

March 30 was chosen for World Apitherapy Day because it is the birth date of Dr. Philipp Terc (formerly Filip Tertsch), the first scientific researcher to investigate the medical uses of 'apitoxin," or bee venom. Terc was born on March 30, 1844, in Praporiste, Bohemia (Czech Republic).

Anonymous said...

Apitherapy BLOG with the latest news !

Paul M. said...

the soft humming
of a bee in the room
without flowers

Gabi Greve said...

an attic window sill
a wasp curls
into its own dust

Alan Summers, UK

Published in

1. "Swot, arts & literature magazine" (Bath Spa University) Summer 2007
2. BeWrite.net eMagazine 2003
3. First Australian Haiku Anthology ISBN 0 9577925 9 X 2003
4. "Raku Teapot: Haiku" Book and CD pub. Raku Teapot Press 2003 in association with White Owl Publishing Book: ISBN 1-891691-03-1 CD: ISBN 1-891691-04-X
5. Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan Sept 2002
6. Go-Shichi-Go Daily Yomiuri On-Line feature Language Lab Susumu Takiguchi / Special to The Daily Yomiuri http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/20050118wob4.htm http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0501&L=japan-program&T=0&P=73 January 18, 2005
7. tinywords.com July 2002
8. The New Haiku Snapshot Press, 2002, ISBN 1-903543-03-7
9. The Omnibus Anthology, Haiku and Senryu Hub Editions (2001) ISBN 1-903746-09-4
10. Cornell University, Mann Library, U.S. "Daily Haiku" poet October 2001 http://www.mannlib.cornell.edu
11. Haiku International 2000 Anthology, Japan ISBN 4-8161-0675-8
12. First Australian Haiku Anthology (online anthology) 1999 onwards http://users.mullum.com.au/jbird/as2.html
13. *Snapshots Four October 1998 ISSN 1461-0833 (selected from Highly Commended 1998 Haiku Collection competition entry)
14. Woodpecker Special Issue, Netherlands, October 1997 Extra Shuttle Issue,ISSN 1384-6094
15. HaikuOz_Information Kit HaikuOz, the Australian Haiku Society Getting Started With Haiku is a facility provided by HaikuOz.
john bird Editor March, 2001 Contemporary - selected from First Australian Haiku Anthology

Gabi Greve said...

convolvulus -
a bumblebee dithers
over blackberry bramble

Alan Summers, UK

Hermitage haiku journal, Romania ISSN 1584-6970 (2005)

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho -

牡丹蘂 ふかく分出る蜂の名残哉
botan shibe fukaku wake-izuru hachi no nagori kana

From deep within
the peony pistils, withdrawing
regretfully, the bee.

Tr. Shirane

(I have stayed at your home and received such friendly welcome, like a bee filled with good honey from the peony, now taking my leave with great regret and wonderful memories.)

Basho compares Toyo with a peony and himself with a bee.

This hokku has the cut marker KANA at the end of line 3.
- Hayashi Tooyoo 桐葉 Hayashi Toyo -

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

oya hachi ya mitsu nusumarete hita to naku

the parent bee
its honey being stolen
buzzes near

Evidently, Issa didn't realize that the only identifiable "parent" bee would be the queen, not the ones buzzing about the honey thief.

Tr. and Comment: David Lanoue

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Legend from Tokyo, Bunkyo ward, Hongo

kyoo o yomu mokuzo 経を誦む木像 wooden statue reading Sutras
In a home of a Samurai living in 本郷元町 Hongo Motomachi there was a special hall for reading Buddhist sutras. One day they heard the statue of Amida Buddha reading the sutras.
When taking a closer look, there was a swarm of bees making the sound of sutra reading.
and 66 more legends to explore!

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Legend from Fukagawa, Koto ward, Tokyo
hachi 蜂 bee,kumo 蜘蛛 spider
At the temple 本誓寺 Honsen-Ji the priest has a strange tale to tell.
Once a bee was caught in a spider's net. The spider fought to kill the bee, but the bee got free and flew away.
The spider then took a lotus leaf out of the pond and used its fibers to make a bag. The spider then hid in the bag.
A short time later a huge group of bees came back and stung the bag with the spider many many times. They left after quite some time.
The priest thought the spider must have died, but oh wonder - it crawled out of the bag and was safe !

Gabi Greve said...

Futaarawan Jinja 二荒山神社 Futarasan Shrine, Nikko
. shinshi 神使 divine messenger .
kami no o-tsukai 神のお使い / 神の使い the messenger of the deity is
hachi 蜂 a bee.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Saitama 大里郡 Osato district 妻沼町 Menuma town
On the 15th of January, people prepare azukigayu あずきがゆ rice gruel with small soy beans as an offering to お正月様 O-Shogatsu Sama. Sometimes they keep a bit. If helps when stung by a bee.
Keeping the gruel until the 18th day and then eating one bite for each family member will prevent the family from getting ill.

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