Bee Wasp, Bee Kind

I have seen my first bee of the summer

After a multitude of wasps

He is the fluffy humming bumbling maker of runny delight

Briefly replacing the antagonistic yellow-jacketed ruiners of barbecues and picnics

Somewhere, maybe nearby, honey is being made

Industrious, sweet production, as busy as they are

Somewhere, more likely much closer, someone is waving madly, frantically, an epilepsy of signalling

Leaving others to look on, relieved and grateful the wasp is leaving them bee

 

My children were amazed when I first told them that bees made honey

They were far more doubtful when I told them that wasps made marmalade

I would have suggested to them that wasps actually made lemon curd spread

But I knew they’d never heard of it, so I didn’t

“Don’t move and you won’t get stung” our parents would cry

We would cry too when we were then stung

We would feel that burning crossness at the unfairness of the attack

And the lies our parents told us

Now I too tell my children not to move as they

Flap and run and quiver at the sight of a wasp

And I try to tell them “no, no, it’s just a hoverfly – they won’t hurt you”

And I don’t always lie and they aren’t always stung

 

Deep down we feel a sense of justice when we kill a wasp. We feel righteous.

It is equalled by the shame we feel when we kill a bee. We feel disgraced

And yet killing flies provoke no feelings at all

They are the lowest of the Hindu-ish caste of insects

Sniffing dog poo and putting their filthy feet in all the wrong places,

like a gregarious black Labrador

bounding across a muddy field, chasing the first bee of the summer…

bee