I am learning so many things from the bug world this spring. First there was the eye-opener that earthworms live by a system of rules and regulations, with lawyer worms to keep them on the straight and narrow. Then I was approached by Harold the Emerald Ash Borer to ghost write his reply to all the negative press he and his fellow borers have been getting lately. Now it’s bees.
The other day there was a thump on my window. As I live on the third floor this was somewhat unnerving. I approached the window and looking out could see nothing that would account for the noise. Then I looked straight down at the window ledge and saw a bumblebee the size of a Fiat on the sill. Rotund, he was on his back with legs and wings flailing in an attempt to right himself. “A little help please” I heard through the window. Being a bit of a coward I was in no rush to open my window to the possibility of a visit from a stinging entity, even one who was asking for my help. “I assure you I come in peace” he said. How could I not act? I opened the window, and using a pencil got my visitor to his feet.
“Many thanks” he said. “Yours are some of the cleanest windows I’ve ever encountered”
“Thanks, and you’re welcome” I replied. I asked him what brought him to my window. It appears word has gotten around the neighbourhood that I am “bug friendly”.
“Allow me to explain sir. My name is Basil, and I am a Bumblebee. I have been selected by my hive members, based primarily but not solely on my ability to speak English, to get our message out to the world. Being a reader of your blog and therefore aware of your recent encounters with my fellow bugs, I thought you could be of assistance. Not to worry, I’m really very tame.”
I told Basil I was flattered that he read my blog, but didn’t know how I could be of help. However I was willing to listen to his problem. I invited him to come in on one condition; he had to sheath his stinger. This he understood completely and showed me that he had already encased his weapon in a lovely leather holster. So in came Basil. He complimented me on the decor and said I should feel free to drop by his hive some day.
I was pleased to be able to provide him with the saucer of water and sugar he requested in lieu of coffee. With no threat of being stung, I was able to get a good look at his yellow and black furry torso and was taken aback by what I think was styling mousse.
I asked what it was specifically that brought him to me and, in between sips of sweetened water, he told me that the recent news stories about the mysterious disappearance of vast numbers of bees were incorrect. He explained that the bees were not missing, nor had they been exterminated, they were in fact hiding.
“Hiding” I exclaimed. “Where?”
At this Basil merely rolled his eyes and said “if I told you that, it wouldn’t be a very good hiding place, would it chief?”
He elaborated: the idea to go into hiding and thereby upset the entire ecosystem in an attempt to keep bees from being used as fodder in the search for explosives, was suggested by the Drones. Worker bees and union lads to the nth degree, they felt this was necessary. And you thought the AFL-CIO was powerful!
“But,'” I protested “you can’t do that”.
Hey, we’re not supposed to be able to fly either, but we do!
It was when I mentioned that sniffer dogs have long been used for this that I understood I had offended Basil and I got what can only be described as a lecture from my little guest. “Everyday we bees leave the hive in search of pollen. Once located we return and proceed to inform our hive colleagues just where the cache is to be found. We do this by way of a complicated dance. Scientists have studied this dance and been amazed by it for generations. On the other hand, dogs fetch sticks.”
Feeling a little put out by Basil’s harsh tone I said I couldn’t imagine him doing much dancing, complicated or otherwise, given his girth. Again he shook his head in disbelief and told me those dances were soon to be a thing of the past. With smartphones equipped with GPS, when bees come upon a stash of pollen they now send a text back to the hive thereby informing the drones where to go.
To say I was gobsmacked would be an understatement. No wonder bees were becoming rare, they had no intention of being used to find explosives. These are not dumb beasts and Basil wanted me to get that message out.
He finished his water and wiped his mouth with a small handkerchief before starting to buzz. Oh no, here it comes, he’s going to turn on me, I thought. They always say you can’t really trust wild animals; no more civilized gentleman bee, he’s going native on me. How long until he unsheathed that stinger and was having at me? As the buzzing increased I could see Basil trembling; I thought he was going to take flight but instead he pulled out the smallest iPhone I’ve ever seen and said “I always forget when I put it on vibrate. I’m thinking of switching to Samsung. What do you think?”
With that Basil made his way out if my window and off to his hive. But before taking off from my sill, he said there was no need for me to send him a draft of our conversation before I posted it; that he trusted me to get it right. Not coincidentally I fear, he said this as he was removing the holster from his stinger with a funny glint in his little eyes that I still am not sure indicated appreciation or threat! Yet the next day when I looked I noticed a very small sticker on the lower part of my window that said “Make Honey, Not Bombs” and I knew Basil had been back.