[DWJ] Chalice

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Thu Apr 23 06:59:59 EDT 2009

>Minnow wrote:
>> Mark Allums wrote:
>>> "There are worse things than bees."
>>> I wish you hadn't said that.  Perhaps you should qualify that with "nice
>>> tame bees of Italian heritage".  I live in an area (East Texas) where
>>> some quite aggressive bees are moving in from points further south.
>> Oh.  I thought the Italian bees were the aggressive but industrious ones,
>> and the English ones were placid but lazy, and the trouble came when they
>> interbred them trying to get placid industrious, and ended up with
>> aggressive lazy.
>Oh, Most all European bees are nice.  English, Italian, whatever.  The
>South American experiment was to breed European bees with African bees.
>  This did not work well.  Some swarms got away, and the rest is
>history, including several very bad movies.  Apparently, very little of
>the European genetic heritage survives in the "Killer Bees", and none of
>the, European temperament at all.

Thank you, Mark.  I'd clearly got the wrong name; it's been several years
since the news story crossed my ears briefly.

The other fictional bees that made quite an impression on me when I was a
young reader are the wild bees of India, which Mowgli uses to dispose of
the Red Dog when they invade his pack's territory.  That is a very chilling
and beautifully-written account of deliberately stirring up several nests
of bees by dropping rocks into them, and then running like fury and jumping
into a river to get away.

(And I still use "there is hair between every toe!" as an insult, under my
breath: when I met the hobbits I worried about their hairy feet just in
case they had hair between their toes.)

>>> But I did enjoy quite a lot witnessing my uncle's bee hive begin to
>>> swarm, at my grandmother's house.  I can now quite easily visualize
>>> being inside a roiling, thick cloud of honeybees.  Because I have been.
>> Show-off!  :-)
>:-)  It's really not a difficult feat.  Just hang around beehives in the
>summer.  A really large, thriving hive will almost certainly swarm,
>nearly every year.  Get very close (but not too close) when you detect
>unusual activity, and stand still.  It can be quite a fun experience for
>a ten-year-old.  Kind of like a fog composed of yellow-brown particles,
>which buzz.  It was a bit dream-like.  I'm sure I would experience it
>differently today, but I still recall the joy I had of being there, in
>the right place, at the right time.

I also have a vague memory of being told that when they are swarming bees
won't sting, presumably because they are too busy worrying about what they
are doing to bother with irrelevant humans.

I will freely admit that I have no particular wish to test the theory!


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