Tag Archives: bees

1590. Wasps and things

(The photograph is of Paper Wasps at my front door! No, I didn’t leave them there! But look how organized they are – soldiers, guards, collectors, builders… !)

Garrett was eleven years old. He liked spiders and bugs and stuff. Goodness knows how many insects had perished as he kept them as pets trying to work out the parameters. What do they eat? Where do they live? Under what conditions do they thrive? So far, he had had little luck in keeping insects as pets; except for tarantulas, and with eight legs and not six they were better off being called spiders. Besides, how to keep a pet tarantula was well documented. Also ants. He had an ants’ nest behind glass and he fed them bread soaked in sugared water. They seemed to thrive.

Of course, he also cared for monarch butterfly caterpillars. He knew what they fed on, but for the last couple of years he’d grown a little tired of them. They were so commonplace. No! What he wanted was to keep scorpions, and bumblebees, and grasshoppers, and wasps, and… different things.

As luck would have it, once he visited the insect department of the local museum at the same time as a visiting entomologist. Professor Marinko Magyar was one of the country’s leading experts. He specialized in native species of bees, but he knew an awful lot about other sorts of insects. Garrett told him of the difficulty he had in keeping insects as pets.

The professor could not have been more helpful. In fact, he was so delighted that a young person was enraptured by insects that he offered to help Garrett set up a bumblebee’s nest. It was wonderful! Under a removable wooden lid, the bees were behind glass so everything could be observed. A polythene pipe opened to the outside world where the bumble bees could freely come and go to collect pollen and whatever it was they collected. It was a lot of work setting it up, but the professor enjoyed helping the young lad who had shown such interest.

Next, the professor showed Garrett how to successfully keep crickets. The particular species they cared for required rain before they would lay eggs, so a water spray bottle was kept handy. Fortunately, Garrett’s wonderful and expanding “insect zoo” was in a large spare building apart from the house, so there was plenty of room to expand; and far enough away for Garrett’s mother to avoid having to come near “the horrible things”.

Over the next couple of years, with the help of the professor, different species of insects were added to the collection. Garrett and the professor spent hours working with the little creatures. The collection was going to become famous! It all finished, however, a couple of years ago. Now that he’s older, Garrett is taking the professor to court.

1559. Birds, bees, and butterflies

Flora was true to her name. She had planted her large property in plants to attract butterflies and bees. When summer came there were flowers flowering and butterflies fluttering and bees buzzing. She planted shrubs to attract nectar-eating birds. Who needs wind chimes when choirs of bellbirds tinkle in the breeze? And to lie in bed a little longer in the early hours of a summer’s day and hear… the birds!… oh! the birds! The dawn chorus! It was a piece of heaven fallen from… heaven.

Flora’s new neighbour didn’t appreciate Flora’s slice of bliss. “Those bloody birds wake me up every morning. What a racket. As for the bees – I see you’ve put in a hive. Some people react to bee stings. The bees are a menace. And as for flowers, especially lilies, don’t you know people get hay fever from the pollen? I suggest you pull a few things out and start recognizing the needs of other people who live nearby.”

Flora didn’t flinch.

The neighbour’s property was empty and well sprayed. There wasn’t a weed in sight. For that matter, there wasn’t a plant in sight, not even a blade of grass. “We’re getting ready to put it all in concrete. It’s so much nicer, and easier to maintain, and we’ll charge only a few dollars for every kid who wants to play.”

Flora left her paradise for one and a half weeks to go on the Horticultural Society’s Grand Garden Tour. It was one of the highlights of her year. When she returned her garden was dead; no thriving nectar-producing trees, no bellbirds, no lilies, and butterflies, and bees. Even the hive sat silent. Flora asked the neighbour what had happened.

“I done nothing,” said the neighbour. “We’re putting our concrete backyard into a go-cart race track for the local kids. You could learn a trick or two from that as to how to be neighbourly. No bee stings. No hay fever. No bird poop all over the go cart track.”

And that was that.

Poem 80: When birds begin to sing

When birds begin to sing
I know with joy that spring is near.
Somehow, this time of year,
the birds join up in pairs and build
nests, lay eggs in song-filled
days, feed, are never stilled lest
the fledglings leave the nest too soon.

Fresh things are everywhere!
Flowers bloom! Fruit forms! The air – it cries
new life! And butterflies!
And bees! Yet here, in my old, spent
winter of discontent
I must not not forget to turn
the page, the page, the page.

(Based on the Vietnamese Luc Bat).

1309. Nature Study

Christobelle had a thing for the environment. She was as green as they come. She ate only that which was organically grown. No meat of course; and in fact not even a life-giving chicken’s egg. No insect would be purposely crushed beneath her shoe. Her porch was riddled with spiders spared by Christobelle.

She was therefore considerably dismayed when it was discovered the apples her generous neighbour had allowed her to pick for the past six years, had been sprayed each year. Sprayed! Apparently to kill some moth caterpillar. These people ate cows and sheep and pigs. Why on earth would they fuss about sinking their teeth into a little creepy-crawly? And the thought of poison having entered her body annually for the past six years filled Christobelle with stenchful repulsion. She felt quite ill. What are they taught in school these days? What happened to Nature Study as a subject?

Two nights after this discovery, Christobelle went out and sprayed insect repellent into her neighbour’s thirteen beehives. That should teach him a lesson.

204. To bee or not to bee

204bee

Russell was passionate about bees. Ever since he was a kid, he was interested in bees. Being an apiarist was all he ever wanted to be.

When he was nine he started a bumblebee hive. He didn’t keep them for the honey; he kept them as pets. He could watch them through a glass lid at the top. The glass-lidded hive was in his bedroom, and the bees came and went along a polythene pipe that ran to outside his window.

Then he got a honeybee hive. Then two. By the time he was sixteen he had thirteen hives and was ready to leave school. He began to place his hives around various farms and orchards in the area. With permission of course. He had over two hundred hives and a honey processing shed. At last! He was a real beekeeper!

Then he met Adeltha (called Dell). They were very much in love, love, love.

“Dell is the one for me,” said Russell.

Adeltha was allergic to bee stings. A sting could kill her in minutes. Russell sold his hives and milked cows.