Monday, September 14, 2009


My wife doesn't kill insects. She doesn't expound, preach, or explain the reasons why she doesn't, she just doesn't. If an insect comes too close to her, she will just say "shoo", and with her fingers urge the pest to take another route. If a spider happens to seek shelter in our house, she will gently pick it up with a Kleenex, open the door and throw it out---with a "shoo", of course. If an insect needs to be killed(for whatever reason), she calls me in. I'm the exterminator---stomp, stomp. A squashed bug. The only time I've seen her kill an insect---and did so with great fury---was when an unfortunate wasp got in the car one day, and got dangerously close to our daughter in her car seat. My wife pulverized that bug with such spitfire power that it actually startled me. That wasp was so thoroughly squashed that it actually became part of the upholstery from then on. A vivid reminder to the insect world, stay away from this woman's babes.

But today's topic is bees, and I have a story to tell. It goes like this: One Saturday afternoon, my wife and I were busy in our garden/backyard. My wife was pruning and caring for the many plants she adores; I was nailing something---I like nailing things. Over my shoulder came a flying blob---it first looked like a black and yellow blob. I watched it in wonder trying to identify what exactly it was. It landed in the grass. I walked over to take a closer look. It was the biggest MFing bee I've ever seen! And on it's abdomen was this small, kind of miniature bee. I recognized right away what was going on: This was the Queen Bee and the Drone fertilizing her! WoW! My whole Grade 5 Science studies came rushing back to me. I've never seen this before---I doubt if many have.

I called over to my wife who sometimes gets annoyed when disturbed from her plant care duties. The conversation went this way:

Bernie: Hey! (Wife's name), come here. Quick!
Wife: I don't do "Quick".
B: Come here, you got to see this!
She ambles over with a garden spade in her hands.
W: What is it?
B: Look! There in the grass. Look!
W: (She looks closely). A bee? What's that? The size of it! What is it?
B: It's the Queen Bee and the Drone! How about that?
W: What's the drone doing?
B: He's..well..he's.. actually, he's fertiliz...
W: her.
B: (Wife's name!) Have some respect! Yes. He's fertilizing the Queen...for the continuation of the health of the hive. Cool, eh?
W: Leave them alone, dear.
B: You see, the drone is male, that's his job. All the workers in the hive are female. They do everything: they clean and keep the hive healthy and alive, they gather nectar, tend to the eggs...all kinds of things. The drone just does this. That's his only job.
W: Typical. Not much different from human males.
B: Hey!
W: How do you know so much about all this?
B: I went to Grade 5. It was part of the Grade 5 Science studies. Remember? Or did you go to Grade 5?
W: I skipped it and went right into High School.
B: Funny.
W: YOU remember Grade 5 Science? And I have to remind you several times over a month that our anniversary is coming up?
B: Hey, stay focused. The subject is bees. (I go closer to this auspices event now being performed on our lawn, I call out in a louder voice) Hey buddy, drone dude, get a room! (chuckle, chuckle)
W: Why did they have to pick our yard.
B: I know, eh? Property value will go down, for sure.
(She begins to walk away, to the flower patch)
B: You going? Aren't you going to watch?
W: They need their privacy. When they're done, tell them to leave a tip.

I took my work well away from this amazing spectacle peeking back every now and then to see how everything was progressing. An hour went by, and even more time passed. Then I saw the Queen begin to stir, and the Drone to fall off her. I called my wife who actually came over in a sort of hurry---that's qualitative, of course. Aha! She's interested.

Wife: What's going on?
Bernie: He's finished. It was well over an hour! How about that?
W: I take it back, he's not like the human male.
B: Hey! Getting a little lippy, eh? I'll get the whip, Wench.(that's from Shakespeare, I think)
W: You'll sleep in the barn!
(You know, when she says that, I think she means it)

The Queen Bee rights herself, seems to be slogging around trying to get her bearings---rough day. The Drone is all messed up. He falls on his back, walks unsteadily towards her. She pushes him away with her foot? arm? paw? whatever.

B: Did you see that?! She pushed him away.
W: Yes. Twice. He's only a Drone.

The Queen Bee takes flight, does a circle around the area, flies up and over the house. She's going back to the hive, I guess.
The Drone is still falling all over the place in a dizzy dance. Then he takes flight, does a circle, comes right over to inches from my face, seems to stop for a bit(I kid you not!), and heads over the house. I call out, "Good job, Drone. Well done there, buddy" My wife says, "Oh dear god, comradeship among the males. Really".
I say, "drone's my man".
Then my wife tells me something I did not know about these bees, and it was this: She says, " Do you know where the hive is? I do. It's under our front step!" Well, this put a different perspective on this whole afternoon event. My wife also said, "Just think of all those eggs that Queen Bee will shoot out because of this tryst in our yard. Just think of all the....." "Yeah, yeah, I get it", I say.

Well, if the bees will keep to themselves, as they usually do, I'll not bother them. I can't kill them, and neither will my wife. We'll co-habitat---it's the GREEN thing to do.

If you want to read about bees---and you really should because it's just a fantastic story--- you should get BEES: NATURE'S LITTLE WONDERS, by Candace Savage. This is an excellent little book on these familiar and wondrously odd creatures. I would say that it may just change your life---no kidding. At least you won't feel obligated to stomp on bugs just because they are there.

Next: God books. This time for sure.

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