bee balm symbolism

Bee Balm Flower Meaning and Symbolism

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The perfect plant for pollinators, bee balm is often grown in a herb garden for its ability to attract bees and butterflies. It’s easy to grow and care for and produces beautiful red spikes of flower clusters that will attract visitors of all kinds to your garden.

Also known as bergamot, oswego tea, and monarda, this plant is hardy and has long been used in households all around North America. But what many people aren’t aware of is that this plant is actually entrenched in deep meaning and symbolism.

If you’ve never given a second thought to the meaning of this flowering plant, this article will tell you all that you need to know.

What Does Bee Balm Mean?

Bee balm plant is a charming member of the genus Monarda. This genus was named in honor of Nicolas Bautista Monardes. A Spanish botanist, Monardes died in 1588 and wrote one of the earliest European books on native American plants.

Also a member of the mint family, bee balm has a name that references its connection to the local environment. Bee balm is known for its ability to attract bees, but also for its medicinal value.

Not only can the plant be used to treat conditions ranging from headaches to sore throats and even digestive upsets, but it also produces a resin that can be used to treat bee stings. 

violet monarda

What Does the Bee Balm Flower Symbolize? 

Because of its many medicinal uses, bee balm most commonly symbolizes good health and protection from evil and illness. It also represents fertility – often seen as a hallmark of good health – and can promote restful sleep.

It’s also considered essential in some household cupboards because of its meaning.

Bee balm symbolizes good fortune in another way, too – it can be used to represent wealth and money. Its various colors take on different meanings, too, but more often than not the plant has positive connotations and represents good health, protection from illness, and prosperity. 

Bee Balm Flower Meaning By Colors

Bee balm flowers come in various colors, and each hue may carry different symbolic meanings. Here are some common interpretations associated with different colors of bee balm flowers:

Red Bee Balm

Red bee balm is often linked to passion, love, and vibrant energy. It can symbolize strong emotions and enthusiasm.

Pink Bee Balm

Pink bee balm tends to represent love, sweetness, and affection. It conveys a softer and more delicate sentiment compared to the intensity of red.

Purple Bee Balm

Purple bee balm is associated with mystery, spirituality, and charm. It can symbolize admiration and acknowledgment of someone’s uniqueness.

White Bee Balm

White bee balm typically signifies purity, innocence, and cleanliness. It can also represent new beginnings or serve as a symbol of spiritual growth.

Lavender Bee Balm

Lavender bee balm often combines the meanings of purple and pink, representing a blend of charm, admiration, and love.

What is the Cultural Significance of Bee Balm?

Bee balm has long been utilized for its culinary and medicinal purposes. Various Native American tribes, including the Blackfoot, Winnebago, and Ojibwa tribes, used the plant in a variety of ways. It was frequently ground into a poultice to treat minor wounds and skin infections. It has strong antiseptic properties that help speed up the healing process and prevent further infection.

It also was used in a tea to prevent gingivitis and dental caries, along with other throat and mouth infections. As an aromatic essential oil, it can also be used as a hair tonic or in perfumes. It is frequently eaten in herbal teas, in salads, and as a garnish. It can even be used to treat fevers and headaches.

Early American colonists also used bee balm in an alternative tea named Owego tea. This was used as a “weapon” against England and was consumed after the famous Boston Tea Party, during which colonists tossed English tea into the harbor to protest high tea taxes. 

pink bee balm

What is the Symbolism of a Bee Balm Flower Tattoo?

Bee balm flowers most often symbolize prosperity in its various forms. A bee balm tattoo, then, can be used to demonstrate pride in one’s success, whether that’s related to finances, a career, or even fertility. 

When Should You Give Someone a Bee Balm Flower?

Vibrant bee balm is the perfect flower to give anybody who likes to garden. It is not traditionally given as a cut flower, as it tends to wilt relatively quickly, although it would make the perfect gift as a live plant. It is easy to grow and care for and provides a wonderful avenue for pollination.

If you want to give someone the gift of good luck, prosperity, and good health, bee balm is the ideal choice.

Learn more about other flowers and their meanings on our blog.

See more: Bee balm companion plants

*Photo by weha/depositphotos

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