Aristaeus, the archetype of the bugonia ritual,
instructing beekeepers on how to generated bees.
Virgil's Georgics. Lyon. 1517
Βουγονία (Bugonia - Bοugonia), from the Greek "βους", meaning "ox" and "γονή" meaning "progeny", was a ritual in the ancient Mediterranean region based on the belief that bees were spontaneously generated from an oxen carcass.
A detailed description of the bugonia process can be found in "Geoponica", a collection of agricultural lore compiled during the 10th century for the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus which embraces agricultural information, including the management of bees.
The expressions "bugenès melissae" and "taurigenae apes" meant "oxen-born bees" and the ancient Greeks would sometimes simply call honey bees "bugenès" or "taurigenae".