Bees knees and coconut oil




My dad had a boy on the burning deck rhyme for just about every occasion.

He also regularly used the “bees knees and coconut oil” quote though I never knew why or what it meant.

In my early,  and irresponsible,  twenties I was once part of a team clearing a woodland path around a youth hostel type of place. Back then, loose-fitting boxer shorts were the underwear of choice for discerning youths, having replaced those ghastly string underpants of my school days. I was also wearing something akin to cargo pants, those just below the knee things that preserved your modesty. This is all relevant because unbeknownst to us, our path clearing was about to hit a sudden snag.

As we wielded our machetes to cut through the undergrowth, little did we know that we were heading straight towards a bees’ nest.

Now bees are usually very docile creatures but when it comes to defending their queen, they become anything but docile. Most of the team ended up getting stung, in my case three times. Worst of all, a bee found its way up my cargo pants, inside my boxers and decided to target the obvious. The embarrassment of sitting there in full view of the rest of the team while the hostel nurse first removed the stinger and then encased my most important asset (or so it seemed at the time) in soggy old tea bags (did you know that soggy old tea bags are pretty effective at soothing bee stings?)!

But did this make me a sworn enemy of bees for evermore? Nope! Though I was the laughing stock of everyone there for the rest of my stay.

I know bees  are my friend. Without them, we’d all be very hungry. It’s thanks to them that my apple trees bear fruit. And I’m convinced that the bees know using their stinger is a sort of mutual destruction (or would be if they had any sense of scale!) And not all bees have stingers anyway. If a bee lands on me for a rest, I just let it rest and sooner or later it will buzz off. You can even lift bees that refuse to get out of your way by cupping them in your hands – just make sure they can see light; don’t cup tight.

But some people just don’t get the message.

I came across an article on the web recently. I thought at first it might be one of those spoof sites but no! This was a supposedly responsible site and an article written by someone who claimed to have a degree in journalism. This article offered a way to kill a pesky bee that was flying around you.

Here’s an extract:


Now apart from the fact that the proposal is that you should kill a bee using soapy water – a well known “organic” contact way of knocking down pests like aphids – in a way that’s going to deliver a slow death, I’m reminded of those (very) old public service films dating from the times when we were all living in fear of a nuclear war. You know, those films telling you that when you heard the 4-minute warning on the radio you should immediately construct a shelter in your hallway by removing doors and leaning them against a wall to create a triangular tunnel in which you, the wife, the kids, the mother-in-law, the pet dog and 6-months’ supply of tinned baked beans should confine yourself. It was called protect and survive. If you didn’t die from the nuclear explosion, you would gas yourself to death after eating all the baked beans!

So back to bees.

You’re sitting out in the garden enjoying a glass of wine whilst reading the newspaper when a pesky bee starts flying around.

Step 1: Ask the bee nicely to continue flying around in the same place while you pop indoors and make a gallon of soap solution. Oh, dear, you don’t have a 1-gallon sprayer. Pop out and ask the bee to continue flying around in the same place while you nip out to the garden centre to buy a 1-gallon sprayer.

Step 2: Fill the sprayer with your soap solution. This must be very important as it has a whole step to itself.

Step 3: Check the bee is still flying around in the same place while you pop back out to the shops in search of a bee-keeper’s outfit or make one from things you’re bound to have lying around the house (maybe left over from your pre-nuclear-war preparations) and don the aforementioned outfit.

Step 4: Now carrying your 1-gallon sprayer, chase around after the bee (which is unlikely to co-operate by flying around without moving) and repeatedly spray it. At this stage, you may realise that you missed step 3A which is to pressurise the sprayer. So, asking the bee to be co-operative and stay put, pressurise the sprayer and then start chasing it around again. You may, of course, need to feel it once or twice to check whether you have thoroughly wetted it yet.

Most people who are that bothered by the bee will probably be a bit more sensible and roll up the newspaper to swat it. But most people won’t be bothered at all; they’re more likely to enjoy watching the bee buzzing around doing its buzzness happily – probably more interesting than reading the newspaper.

Then you can return to your glass of wine, safe in the knowledge that you have now despatched a little creature that wasn’t doing any harm to you and now won’t be able to pollinate your apple tree. And if all your neighbours have done the same, get ready to starve yourself to death when nothing gets pollinated anywhere and there are no food crops available to eat.

Then stop for a moment and think that the next time you reach for that bottle of neonicotinoid insecticide to zap a few greenfly, you’re doing just as much to kill that bee and all the other beneficial bugs that inhabit your garden. Which, of course, is just as ridiculous as going through the soapy spray process.

Just remember, if ever you’re part of a team clearing a path through woodland, to wear tight fitting underpants!

10 thoughts on “Bees knees and coconut oil

  1. Don’t wear tight fitting underpants. Just don’t wear shorts. And you might even avoid Lymes Disease.

    1. Had Lyme disease been discovered when I was in my early 20s? I do now wear full length stuff on the waist and below but still wear snug fitting underpants. Seems you can catch so many diseases these days by just doing what you like doing, that it’s probably best that we all stop living, just in case.

      1. Ahem. Think that’s enough underpants talk for now. And doctors can sort out most problems arising from doing what you like doing if you get in quick. But don’t try my surgery or you might be dead before you get an appointment.

        1. Hmmm! Thought I’d mention that your comment was intercepted by Askimet as spam. Being the inquisitive type, I did a check. Looks like you’ve restarted your router lately. The IP address from which this comment came is different to that which you appear to have been using for yonks. The IP address is the only difference I can see. You may want to check things.

        2. You and Anne live too close to England. Here, I can get an appointment to see a named medic in a week (phoned on Friday last to get an appointment this Thursday) or I can turn up and see whoever happens to have a slot available. Move west, dear fellow! Move west (Anne will probably refuse to move further into the heathen lands tho.).

  2. Nice one, John. This’ll make every male subscriber’s eyes water. I must confess I thought we were going to get soapy water in our glass of wine as the bee flew off, buzzing to himself.

    1. I thought I’d lead up to a serious message with a bit of fun. An honest story by the way. And it only struck me after my “exposure performance” that the team included a fair number of girls too! They were all oggling my best friend! Dream on, I say!

      Are you anywhere near San Francisco? That’s whence the bee-murdering screen grab came from. I’ll DM a link to you. Deliberately not publishing it here as I don’t want to promote other bee-murdering ideas the article includes.

      1. I replied to the Bee Murder Blog thusly: “I am appalled that you would ever publish an article about how to drown bees. Bees are having enough problems without folks putting down traps for them. With the soap destroying the surface tension of the water, the bowls will attract butterflies and other pollinators also; bowls full of drowned bees and butterflies. Great example for kids. Why not use buckets and then you could drown kittens and puppies? They are less vital to our future survival.

        I strongly believe this article should be pulled from your site. It is unacceptable.

        Jennifer Christie.”

        1. Forgot to mention, no, I am near Atlanta – opposite side of the Country! I hope you approve of the above message I sent to that awful blog?

          1. The offending page has now been removed from the web site. Seems like a bit (well rather a lot) of complaint has achieved a result. A lot of people over this side of the pond complained too!

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