[DWJ] Chalice

Helen Schinske hschinske at aol.com
Thu Apr 23 12:04:10 EDT 2009

_The Keeper of the Bees_ (Gene Stratton Porter book that just came up) says 
the Italian bees are less temperamental than the Black German ones. Not that 
I am going to trust a notoriously prejudiced writer, even over the question 
of bees!

Helen Schinske
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Minnow" <minnow at belfry.org.uk>
To: "Diana Wynne Jones discussion" <dwj at suberic.net>
Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2009 3:59 AM
Subject: Re: [DWJ] Chalice

> >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!
> Minnow
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