How (Not) To Be A Bee


Do you know that bees in a hive have this factor known as swarm mentality, or hive thoughts, which is that this wonderful form of collective thought that occurs once you get a lot of social bugs (ants, bees) collectively in a colony? I’m no Attenborough, however I’ve been Googling this for all of about, ooh, 4 minutes, and it’s so attention-grabbing; the behaviour of the bugs within the colony is so coordinated and the psychological exercise is so collective that it’s similar to a single thoughts controlling their behaviour.

It’s sort of creepy when you concentrate on it for too lengthy, particularly should you’re apiphobic. I don’t have an issue with bees, because of having been mentally conditioned from a younger age to see wasps because the enemy and bees because the insect equal of Dumbledore from Harry Potter. (Vital for survival, basically good and sort, not possible to sting you with out excessive provocation. Wasps can be Voldemort.) It was completely acceptable to swipe at a wasp with a rolled-up newspaper; a fallen bee introduced one thing of a small nationwide emergency. The invalid bee needed to be scooped up with an empty yoghurt carton and positioned on a silken pillow and supplied with a tiny pool of sugar water to sup from.

Nonetheless, many bees collectively: creepy. (If you wish to learn a wonderful and extremely imaginative novel that’s quirkily written from a bee’s-eye-view then I extremely advocate The Bees by Laline Paull*.) And the concept their widespread want and function creates a form of mega-mind offers me the tingles. However I suppose it might all utterly crumble, wouldn’t it, in the event that they didn’t have the one objective or intention? Think about if bees have been simply as much as their very own bits and items all day, like we people are. Pottering. Dwelling in tens of millions of tiny mini-hives somewhat than one large one – spending Sundays fixing a leak within the roof of their condo-hive or painstakingly harvesting the honey from their comb and pouring it into tiny little glass jars able to ship to the native hipster market. It might be chaos! The world would come to an finish!

‘The place have you ever been, Brian?’

Brian comes sauntering in from a time out within the rose bush, his face lined in pollen.

‘Right here and there, Geoff. Right here and there.’

‘Nicely we’ve all been toiling within the hive, Brian, while you’ve been faceplanting the great things all day. Have a look at the state of you! It’s in your again, your thighs, you’ve even obtained pollen in your eyelids.’

Brian isn’t remotely regretful as a result of he has no swarm mentality. What Geoff doesn’t know is that he additionally banged the Queen Bee 3 times that morning and he’s not even the right rating of bee to strategy her, not to mention climb into her mattress! That’s simply the way in which he rolls; he’s a renegade bee along with his personal mind-set, his personal distinctive –

‘Go and get cleaned up Brian, for God’s sake. You’re an absolute shame.’

‘Yeah, yeah.’

And ants! Think about if ants didn’t have swarm mentality. It’d be a complete shit present. There they go, carrying their brown leaf in a superbly straight line, three of them on all sides like little fast-legged pallbearers. There’s no “to me, to you – to me, to you!” within the ant world. They know precisely what they’re about – completely attuned to at least one one other. However should you had even simply the one ant anomaly; blimey. Carnage.

‘Erm, guys?’ says the free-thinking ant sporting the orange trousers and a snazzy cravat. ‘Which flooring are we taking this crumb of bagel to? Do you wish to go the quick method via the slurry pile or circumnavigate the mess and head on via the air brick?’

The others within the ant removals crew wouldn’t even reply him, as a result of all of them talk telepathically, in all probability; I think about they’d simply put down the bagel crumb, advance menacingly in direction of him after which trample him to demise. Earlier than stopping for a cup of tea.

Severely, although; what would all of those bugs do if they’d whole free will and didn’t need to work for the great of the swarm and for the aim of survival? Would bugs get any enjoyment from simply meandering about? Would a bee see a pollen-filled flower in the identical method we see a lodge suite? Cozy mattress, room service, little bit of a change of scene? If bees have been simply working for themselves – freelance bees – would they work as constantly or as onerous as those enslaved by the hive thoughts? Or would they, like me, spend a morning sprucing all of the cutlery from the cutlery drawer with an outdated t-shirt after which cram all the precise work into the afternoon?

If I used to be a contract bee, an escapee from the swarm mind, then my day would appear to be this (keep in mind that is solely in the summertime months, as a result of within the winter I’m useless):

5am: solar comes up. Poke head out of indifferent mini-hive (didn’t need neighbours) and determine it’s too early to exit. The air is a bit contemporary and the dew nonetheless sits on the grass and the petals. If there’s one factor I hate then it’s getting damp. My fur takes an age to dry out and if I go away it damp for longer than a couple of hours, I odor like moist canine.

6.30am: do one other dew verify. Nonetheless dew current. Different bees are starting to take off on their commute to the hive-rise workplace: I’m nonetheless grooming my leg hairs.

8am: dew level acceptable. However wait! What is that this floating via my doorway? White and powdery…pollen. Within the air. What an sudden bonus. That is what occurs once you cannily arrange home subsequent to a protected wildflower meadow. The plot was expensive however I’m reaping the advantages now, let me let you know.

8.03am: Nostril-dive into the pollen pile.

9am: hive-rise secretary rings to see when, or if, I’d truly flip up for work. I don’t like his tone. Primarily as a result of am excessive as a kite and struggling to make out all the phrases. Name in sick for the morning and roll about within the remaining pollen for a couple of minutes to take the sting out of the expertise.

10am: bored. Can’t go exterior in case one other employee sees me and reviews again to the collective hive thoughts. Disguises don’t are likely to work nicely for bees so is a final resort choice. Peer jealously at my colleagues who’re working the lavender, coming up and down and having a proper outdated time of it. They’re getting heavier and heavier with the pollen – considered one of them is so loaded he retains flying into the wall.

10.10am: regretful.

10.30am: try and tune into the hive thoughts. Can nonetheless choose up indicators from time to time if I sit actually nonetheless and focus on my antenna however immediately is generally static. Omega Patrol have been known as to the rose backyard and there’s a wasp incident in sector 9 (fig tree, all the time an absolute battlefield) however other than that, nothing through the airwaves. Nap.

11am: do some crunches to try to tone up ever-expanding intestine pouch then some lunges to strengthen legs. Clear out my pollen-collecting baskets with a moist fabric, though they’re actually onerous to achieve as a result of they’re on the backs of my legs. What fool determined that was a good suggestion?

11.05am: sit holding the damp fabric, looking at wall.

11.45am: don disguise (giant furry coat that takes me from employee bee to bumblebee in a matter of seconds!) and clumsily fall out of personal doorway. Fly as quietly as attainable all the way down to the foxgloves and insert myself into  best-looking flower. I say insert, it’s like attempting to stuff a cat into the tip of a trumpet; the bumblebee disguise is each heavy and cumbersome. FML.

11.47am: regretful.

11.49am: am heating up unbearably in bumble disguise. Sweat all over the place, together with high lip. Can odor the nectar, really feel the nectar, however can’t transfer to lick the nectar as am restricted by aforementioned coat.

11.53am: concern for personal life. I’ve heard of honeybees doing a mass pile-up on wasps after which their generated warmth kills the wasp: now I see how that is attainable. Can’t maintain this stage of discomfort. Should. Go away. Flower.

11.56am: have been noticed by Pieter in administration. Am red-faced. Not least as a result of my core temperature is the same as the solar. ‘Why are you sporting a fur coat in summer time?’ Pieter mentioned as I fell out of the flower and I wished to punch him within the honey intestine. Informed him I had a summer time chilly and had known as in sick. ‘However you’re feeling higher now, aren’t you?’ mentioned Pieter. Rhetorical query.

Midday: went to work.


Subsequent week: the lifetime of ants.

(Photograph by Delia Giandeini on Unsplash)

The publish How (Not) To Be A Bee appeared first on Ruth Crilly.


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