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!