Thursday, 25 April 2013

360: Bees: Urgent Vote

There was an incredible buzz to the proceedings.  Never before had we seen such a hive of activity as the Inaugural Bee Elections.  Workers swarmed over each other to drop their votes into the honey pot.  The constant drone of beating wings filled the sky and Queening it over them all was their leader, the only candidate on the ballot slip.

That was it.  I’m completely out of bee-related cliches and a troll of Wikipedia hasn’t helped much.  My dream of recreating Orwell’s Animal Farm set in the closed world of an English beehive is floundering on my lack of beeisms.  In fact it’s worse than Animal Farm’s parody of Stalinism in your average hive.  There never was a time when the queen wasn’t in sole charge.  The queen never rose up and took over.  The rule of the queen was infinite and unchallengeable and blindly welcomed.

Did you know workers never even contemplate disloyalty but on average a queen will de-stinger 3 bees every week?  Everyone knows a bee will die once it loses its stinger, but not many know that the rapid, sharp removal that happens when a bees stings a foe results in a relatively swift and painless death.  The queen knows that.  She knows that and she knows that to remove a stinger by waggling it loose over a number of hours is excruciating and humiliating and cruel.  And she knows that to do so publicly is an excellent deterrent.

We don’t usually associate with bees at all.  We think them aloof with their royalty and goodie-goodie garden-friendly activities, whilst they think we are angry and rudely solitary and opportunistic.  They are just jealous that we can sting and sting and sting and I will admit many of us have a little bit of furry-body envy going on, although I’ll deny it if you ever repeat that.

Then I fell in love.  We know there can be no bee-and-wasp hybrid, like tigons and ligers, between us.  We just hang out and we talk and we laugh and we fly around looking at pretty stuff.  We take time out to stop and smell the flowers.  And as we teach each other about our tribal ways, we realized that we wasps have so much a better deal of it.  Bees never see their own subjugation, until now and it is just one bee.

So after dark, when we are both hidden away for the day, I will work on my Apis mellifera opus, and one day, every bee will be a free bee.

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