"We are the beekeepers
we are the keepers of bees
we are the honeymakers
of the world forever, it seems
It is a curious fact that my current and last-but-one job have brought me into contact with men who keep bees, one a surgeon, the other a politician; military men both. The bee is a curious creature, a fat speck dancing o'er the land, busy as the proverbial itself. The buzzy bee is the national animal of New Zealand, but is spiritually an English creature, none more so English than the honey bee, apis mellifera. Its blend of ridiculousness, servitude, intelligence and lethal power are particularly English. The true Englishman does not keep dogs or fish or oysters; he keeps bees. Cricket is less English than the art of bee-keeping.
Of course there is the wasp, vespula vulgaris, which is also English, a less positive vision of Englishness. The wasp spoils my peace of mind, he jams my shredding machine, he spoils my toast, he spoils my jam, damn him. He is half-bee, half-fly, neither. The bee is clean, and I would not think to swat a bee from my food, but the wasp is against all that is good and true; wasps are vermin enemies of the human race. Bees feed their young on honey, which they create themselves; wasps feed their young on the paralysed bodies of arthropods. Yes, I have done my research. I have investigated this alien world of robot, pollen-powered flying machines. Man would marvel if he could create such a thing of metal and plastic; it is the wise man who marvels at what nature has already created, not with reason or guile, but with chaos and persistence.
For that is nature, chaos and persistence. There is no guiding force or intelligent design behind the work of nature. No, there is instead something more, freedom. A lack of constraints, of direction. The ultimate blank slate, infinite liberty. Man's desire to be ruled has shaped his view of the natural world, where there is no rule.
And yet bees have their own society, one more rigid than that of men. The following website has divided up bee society, and outlines the job descriptions of each type of bee:
The Queen's job description includes "kill sisters and mother" and "mate with males". The drone's single function is "mate with young queen". There is a diagram of this. "During ejaculation, the male falls back and his endophallus is ripped out of his body and remains attached to the queen. Drones mounting later remove the previous drone's endophallus and lose their own through similar matings. The emasculated drones die very quickly with their abdomens burst in this fashion".
The worker bee does not get to mate with anybody, but without it the society of the bees would collapse; and one of its duties is "starve drones", so I suppose there is justice. Drones appear to be modelled on the modern bohemian, such as Jude Law. They "lack the body parts to effectively harvest nectar or pollen to feed themselves". The drone lives a pointless life in pursuit of women, and dies. The worker could rule bee society, if it so chose. Perhaps it already does. 'Queen', 'drone' and 'worker' are terms invented by men to describe the role of the bees; for all we know, the bees see the queen as a slave, the worker as citizen-king.
In contrast, wasp society is poorly-understand. Whereas bees are individually intelligent, wasps are stupid; they are wasp-dog to the fat-bee-cat. Whereas human beings have long studied bees, we instead study ways to destroy wasps. According to the 'Global Invasive Species Database', a website which uses the classic 1960s Eurostile font without shame, wasps are worse than wolves, worse than the fire ant. But not quite as bad as the bastard possum, or the evil red-eared slider terrapin.
This is how the plague spreads; it ravages the land, and when it is gone, the flowers grow again. But they are ravaged again, and there are decades of darkness. Nature does not differentiate between the two; but who is your master? Nature, the law of persistent chaos; or the bee, who struggles and dies, to save the plants? To bring flowers where there is gorse?
Yes, this is why we must wear yellow and black. Solidarity. The bee will fight for us, and we shall sign petitions in its name.