Honey bees have been here about 30 million years! They are sophisticated and live a disciplined life. Let’s join Grandma while she tells us a story about her special bee-friend, the Queen Mab.
Johnny and Grandma are in the garden watering the flowers in Grandma’s garden when Johnny suddenly screams, “Run!”
Johnny takes off running to hide behind a tree. Grandma calmly continues to water the flowers.
“Grandma, aren’t you scared?”
“No, Johnny, honey, it’s just a couple of worker bees.”
“But, they will sting you! They’re mean.”
“Johnny, come over here. They’re just working. They won’t bother you if you let them work.”
Johnny slowly walks towards the flowers. He’s not completely convinced Grandma is telling the truth. Grandma can see Johnny is still scared.
“Johnny, you want me to tell you a joke?”
“That would be fun”, Johnny replies with a twinkle in his eyes.
Grandma smiles, “Do you know why did the bee get married?”
“Do honey bees get married too?”
“Of course they do, but not the way we do. They have their own bee-customs.”, Grandma explains, “Now, do you have the answer? It should be funny.”
“Because she found her honey.”, Grandma replies and Johnny bursts into laughs.
“Tell me another bee-joke Grandma!”
“What do you call a bear without ears?”
“B’s”, Johnny with a cackle, “That was easy Grandma!”
She smiles, “Hey! smart boy, what do you call a wasp? — A wanna-bee!”
Here is another one, she throws another joke at Johnny, “What’s a bee’s favourite novel? — The Great Gats-bee!”
Johnny laughs again. “Hey! Grandma, can I tell one bee-joke too?”
“Go on, honey!”
“Who is the bee’s favourite singer?”
He quickly replies to himself, “Sting! — Sting! Sting! Sting!”
“Now it’s my turn.”, Grandma keeps the ball rolling as she sees that Johnny has bee-fear no more. “What is a bee’s favourite part of a relationship? — it’s the honey-moon.”
Johnny laughs into tears.
“What did the sushi say to the bee?”, she throws another joke, “— Wassabee!”
“You are Un-BEE-lievably funny, Grandma!”, he smirks.
This time, it is Grandma to laugh. “You know, who told me all of these jokes? I once had a bee-friend, the Queen Mab”.
Finding Johnny interested in more, she takes Johnny’s hand and begins to tell the story of Queen Mab.
“She had five eyes.”
“Wow! — five eyes!” Johnny’s eyes wide opened with joy.
“Yes, five eyes — pretty and big. A long time ago I was out in a garden just like this one. But, instead of watering flowers, I was picking them to make a bouquet for my Mama. As I was picking, the Queen, her name was Queen Mab, began flying around my head and buzzing loudly. I could tell she was angry, so I asked her what was wrong?”
“You can talk to bees, Grandma?” Johnny asked excitedly.
“When I was a little girl, I could do all kinds of things, and talking to bees was one of my favourite talents.”
“Queen Mab told me that it takes 550,000 bees to visit 10 million flowers, and if I pick all the flowers, all of her worker bees will have to find other flowers. She was so angry at me because I was causing more work for her bees. You see, it is her job to help the worker bees. She is the one that creates them, so they are like her babies. A queen lays 2000 eggs per day is high.”
“Queen Mab spent a long time working her way to the status of Queen. You see, many honey bees are born either a worker bee or a queen bee. But, there can only be one Queen, so she worked extra hard each day to become the one and only Queen Bee. She actually had to kill her competition.”
“See, she is mean!” Johnny yelled. “You can’t just go around killing the competition.”
Grandma explained to Johnny that bees are not humans, and this is expected of the Queen.
“All queens of honeybees must show their strength. So, killing the competit; itis not mean in the honeybee world. And, once the queen is chosen, she spends her entire life protecting the other honeybees in the hive.”, Grandma explained.
“I guess,” Johnny said.
Grandma continued with the story, “After Queen Mab explained her situation, I apologized for picking the flowers and made her a promise. I asked her if I could go into the hive and watch the worker bees do their job. Like you, I was afraid of getting stung, but Queen Mab promised that if I didn’t get in the way, I would be safe.”
“I followed Queen Mab to the hive where I could watch. Hundreds of bees were doing a little dance from side to side; I even saw a few of them kissing. When I pointed out the kissing bees to Queen Mab, she laughed and said they weren’t kissing, they were vomiting into each other’s mouths.”
“Ewwwwww, that’s disgusting!” Johnny yelled.
“Remember, Johnny; they’re not humans. Vomiting into the bees’ mouths is how they mix the nectar with the enzymes in their stomachs to create honey. Then, they all vomit into the honeycomb. But, the liquid is too watery and not really like the honey we know, so they all get together and flap their wings as hard as they can. I watched them do this and could feel the breeze on my face as they fanned the watery substance. Eventually, it began to thicken into the golden honey we all love.”
“I do love honey, Grandma,” Johnny said.
“Me too! It’s one of the reasons I call you Johnny, honey,” Grandma explained with a grin.
“You know what? Queen Mab gave me some honey, and I still have it tucked away in my cupboard. Do you want some?” Grandma asked.
“Grandma, that stuff is too old. You were a little girl a few hundred years ago so that honey is yucky,” Johnny explained.
“No, no, no Johnny. Don’t be mean. I am not that old.”, she smiles, “And for your information, honey doesn’t spoil. Honey is like magic, it can last for thousands of years.”
“Grandma, did you ever talk to Queen Mab again?” Johnny asked.
“No, she was always too busy. But, remember I said that I made her a promise. I promised her that I would not pick flowers anymore, but I would always have a garden wherever I lived. My flower garden was made for Queen Mab and all the honeybees out there working hard to make delicious golden honey.”
“I want a flower garden too, Grandma!” Johnny said excitedly.
“Okay, honey, let’s talk to your parents. We can get your Dad to plough the ground,” Grandma said with a wink.