The Bee Family by Judy McDowell

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Image by Alex Emanuel Koch via Shutterstock

One day a family of solitary bees were relaxing in their nest, and decided they deserved a treat.

“Can we have a takeaway, Mum?” asked Buzzer.

“What sort would you like?” asked Mum.

“Nectar!” shouted all the children enthusiastically.

“Yeah, what they said,” added Dad.

“Well, what sort do you want?” Mum asked.

“Hmmmmm,” they collectively thought.

Buddleia nectar!” called Stripes.

“Yeah,” said Fluffy.

“I like lavender best,” countered Buzzer.

“What sort do you fancy today, Dad?” asked Mum.

“Hmmm,” replied Dad. “How about we have a bit of both?”

“Yeah!” shouted the children again in chorus.

“Good idea,” agreed Mum.

“Now, has anybody got a favourite place for either the buddleia or the lavender?” She added.

Fluffy said, “I like the buddleia in that garden on the corner of Plant Street and Green Road. And they have loads there.”

“They’ve taken all the buddleia down,” said Dad, just a little angrily. “They’ve changed the garden into a place to park their cars.”

“Oh,” said Mum, “I hate it when they do that. It never looks or smells nice. To say nothing of taking away nice nectar.”

“Yes, I saw Red Admiral yesterday, and he was complaining about how many gardens are being used to park cars these days,” Dad said, frowning.

“I hate smelly old cars,” complained Stripes. “Why do people use cars so much, Dad?”

“Well, they can’t fly, I suppose. They don’t have any wings.”

“Round in Dahlia Avenue, you know, near the human shops, someone’s got a much nicer car. It doesn’t smell, and it doesn’t make a racket when it’s going along,” Mum commented.

“That’ll be one of those electric cars,” said Dad sagely.

“I thought it looked like it was plugged into the wall,” Mum commented.

“I know what you mean,” contributed Buzzer. “I’ve seen some of them. They’re so cool. So quiet, and not stinky.

“But they get parked in the gardens, too,“ he added.

“Which,” continued Mum, “brings us back to where we’re going to get our nectar from tonight.”

Buzzer suddenly pronounced, “They have the most delicious lavender nectar next to the bus stop on the main road.”

“Did,” said Dad. “They’ve put a shelter there, for the people to sit in while they’re waiting for buses, if it’s raining or windy.”

“Oh no!” groaned Fluffy. “That was such nice lavender, with the most delicious nectar.”

Stripes said thoughtfully, “What about that house that has herbs in the window box? There’s always some lovely oregano at this time of the year. We could have a bit of pollen to go with the nectar. You’re always saying it’s good for us.”

“That’s a good idea,” said Dad.

“No,” said Buzzer. “Willy Wasp was after some the other day, he told me, and the box has gone. I think someone else lives there now.”

“Awww!” moaned Mum. “Are all the humans getting rid of their plants?”

“What about the allotments!” put in Fluffly, pleased at the thought.

“Nope,” said Dad. “They’re building houses on there now.”

“Blinkin’ humans,” complained Stripes. “Why can’t they leave things alone?”

“Too many of them if you ask me,” said Dad.

“But that’s silly,” said Buzzer. “Why can’t they get creative and keep the plants?”

“Where are they going to put their precious cars?” said Dad.

“They could put shrubs and flowers and stuff round the edge of the gardens“, Stripes suggested.

“Yes, and they could easily grow wildflowers on the top of bus stop shelters,” Mum added.

“They can!” said Fluffy. “I’ve seen a shed with nice grass and flowers growing on the roof.”

Dad cheered up. “I know where you mean. And the nectar and pollen of those flowers is delicious! More people should do that, even if they haven’t turned their garden into a car park.”

“They could do it on the top of garages round the backs of houses and flats. No room for a garden, grow stuff on the roofs! And use window boxes as well,” Mum said. “It would be so much better for us bees, and other insects!”

“You’d think it was the least they could do,” grumbled Dad. “If we didn’t move the pollen about from plant to plant, they’d be stuck. Can’t see them doing it themselves. Then they wouldn’t have any apples, pears, plums, cherries, blackberries, currants ….”

“Dad,” said Stripes. “Do humans need us bees?”

“They certainly do. It’s all about keeping nature in balance. We need the plants, the humans need us to pollinate their plants, and birds need berries, and gardeners need the birds to eat the slugs. We all depend on each other.”

“It’s so true,” Mum agreed.

“Anyway, where shall we get our takeaway from?” Dad asked.

All the children and Mum replied at once, “From the shed with the flowers on it, of course!”

They all laughed a very buzzy laugh. And later on, they had a delicious meal.

Judy McDowell

Can you think of any other places you could grow flowers for bees? Maybe you could send in some of your ideas?

Image via Shutterstock

Editor’s Note:

You may have noticed that the target readership of this article is a little younger than Greeneralia’s presumed natural audience. This is part of this issue’s particular stress on the need to broaden the scope of eco activism: what can we do to engage children at an early age (as well as articles elsewhere in the issue aimed at ‘non-experts’.)

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