One bright sunny day last summer I looked out my window and there was a large bumble bee repeatedly flying into the glass. Clearly he was trying to get my attention for some reason. I moved to the window and tapped on it. He motioned for me to open it but, being leery of bee stings I was hesitant. Glomming on to my apprehensiveness he made a point of showing me that he was without stinger by rolling on the window to expose all his fuzzy angles.
I decided to take a chance and open the window and just a pinch. I expected him to come zooming into my apartment, but instead he ducked his head and lifted his legs in over the window track like a prizefighter entering the ring. He mentioned that some years ago I had interviewed his uncle Basil regarding the use of bees in landmine detection.
Of course I recalled that post and asked about Basil. My guest informed that Basil was now retired and “Living in a senior bee’s hive”. I asked if he saw him often.
“I try to drop in a couple of times a month or so,” he said. “But he sits there with other old bees droning on about how good things used to be. Pollen was plentiful, people had yet to catch on that male bees have no stingers, the honey was sweeter, and the prices better.”
At this I informed him that I was one of those who was unaware of the stinger-less nature of male bees. But then I remembered how Basil had made quite a to-do about sheathing his stinger while talking to me.
“Ya, he used to pull that one all the time,” he told me. “A lot of the older bees did that to maintain the fear factor. Then along came the internet and now everybody know they were being duped.”
Getting back to my current guest I asked him his name.
“Branford,” he answered.
“Oh,” I said. “Your parents must have been jazz fans. I assume you were named for Branford Marsalis.”
He confirmed that I was correct, he had indeed been named after the great Jazz instrumentalist. He went on to say that his parents loved all kinds of music and composers including, of course, Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov but that their favourite genre was bebop.
With the formalities out of the way I asked Branford if he wanted anything, as I recalled his uncle enjoying a cool sip of water. “No time for that” he told me.
“Fine,” I uttered. “What can I do for you?”
“Well, you are no doubt aware of our diminishing numbers. Bees are disappearing in droves. The problem in a nutshell is climate change. We used to arrive in the late spring, hang around all summer then bug out in the fall. But now the seasons are overlapping and the temperatures can be hot in October and cool in May. A bee doesn’t know what to wear. Many of my fellow buzzers have succumbed to heat exhaustion or hypothermia.” he explained.
I knew there was a lack of bees, but had never had it brought to my attention by an actual bee.
He continued, “I am here not on behalf of my uncle, but as a senior member of the ‘Bees’ Lives Matter’ movement that we have formed.
I congratulated him on the organization. He elaborated that the movement was all about informing people about the dangers of climate change. I told him he had his work cut out for him if the current president is any indication.
“Exactly what we are up against,” he said heaving a sigh of frustration. “But it gets worse. Other movements apply for permits to hold demonstrations. In Washington, Ottawa or any city really. We believe this would be an effective tool to get our message across. But we can’t get a permit.”
“Why ever not,” I asked.
“You see, a large group of people protesting is called a crowd, or a manifestation, or a mob, or but a mass of bees is called a swarm! To amass a huge group of us and descend on a city would quickly result in the spraying of insecticide and would wipe out millions of us. It would be a one-way ticket to extinction.”
I understood his conundrum, but I was not certain how I could be of assistance to him and his cause. He told me it wasn’t really me he was relying on for help, but rather my pit bull friend.
“We have watched and read with great interest how your pal and his fellow canines stood up to the pit bull ban, first by skirting it, then by political means. We would like to meet with him.”
So I was to be a go between. I’ll keep you informed.