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Regina Garay

The Buzz About the French Bee Motif

Guerlain embroidered bees via Paint + PatternEmbroidery for the house of Guerlain.

Who knew? Bees have an affinity for both agriculture and interior design! These fashionable fliers may be more suited to help nurture our environment, but there is no denying the French bee motif has had an important impact on design as well. Let’s see what the buzz is all about!

Gold Honey Bees on Charcoal by Barneby Gates via Paint + Pattern

David Hicks's Hexagon Wallpaper via Paint + Pattern

The noble bee was one of the most important symbols of power and prestige during Napoleon’s era. He wore the bee motif embroidered on all his garments and ornamented his residences as well. According to some accounts, he wanted a personal emblem that represented industriousness and prestige in French history and the motif was said to be older than the fleur-de-lis. Painter JeanBaptise Isabey is credited for creating the look of the open-winged bee as viewed from the top. For as long as he held power in France, Napoleon used the emblem of the bee and it became known as the Napoleonic Bee. Today, this design, as well as the beehive and the honeycomb pattern are extremely popular in all facets of design, including wallcoverings like the dark and dramatic Barneby Gates pattern and the contemporary Hicks Hexagon patterns above.

French Bee Trellis Stencil by Royal Design Studio via Paint + PatternBee element from the French Bee Trellis StencilFrench Bee Trellis Stencil by Royal Design Studio via Paint + PatternFrench Bee Trellis Stencil

Beehive Allover Furniture Stencil via Paint + PatternBeehive Allover Furniture Stencil

Royal Design Studio has a wonderful array of bee-inspired stencil patterns in various sizes. In addition to the French Bee Trellis Stencil and Beehive Allover Furniture Stencil, they also have the Buzz Allover Bee Stencil and the Honeycomb Allover Wall Stencil. These stencils are buzzing with bee-uty!

Bee, Beehive and Bee Skep via Paint + Pattern

Aren’t these inspired surfaces beautiful? The beehive makes an appearance as an outdoor stone oven in House Beautiful, bees adorn server ware from the Hotel de Crillon and a bee skep becomes a buzzworthy architectural sculpture in Paris. Shangri-La Hotel Paris via Paint + Pattern

It’s fascinating how certain motifs are so impactful and recognizable and yet they can easily hide in plain sight. Here, both the flora and bee motif are cleverly hidden within the guilloche trim pattern in Paris’ Shangri-La Hotel.  It shimmers enticingly in gold leaf. The bee, the oldest emblem of French sovereignty, is also considered a symbol of immortality and resurrection. Does this mean the design is eternally chic? Why yes – yes, it does!  We hope you are all abuzz with knowing more about the origin and meaning of the Napoleonic Bee.

Royal Design Studio Wall Stencils and Paint Supplies for DIY Projects

3 comments

  1. Debbie Hayes

    Regina I had no idea. Now you are responsible for my craving to use all of the bee stencils. It’s a good thing. Bzzzzzz.

  2. I can’t get enough of these “honeys”! I’ve been on a year long collecting binge~ my latest love is all the bee jewelry I can get my hands on!

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