Bees were also given pieces of the funeral cake, and a bit of every food and drink served at the funeral feast. This being done, the bees would return to work again. In some areas the bees were even formally invited to the funeral. Check out Songs of the Ridings for an old Yorkshire song called Telling the Bees.
Here's a rather smallish picture of a print by J.P. Davis called Telling the Bees. You can see the woman is draping the hives with black crepe funeral cloth, as in the poem by John Greenleaf Whittier.There will bee lots more updates as we start assembling what we need to house and care for our first hive. And more on bee folklore as well. It seems our ancestors not only depended on these little critters for their main source of sweetness, and wax for candles, but they respected them as vital members of the family with their own body of knowledge and customs to be observed.