The Bee: oh what a wonderful thing to be…

The honeybee on lesser burdock | Watercolour: Lesley Scoble

Where would we be without the bee?

Where would we be without the honeybee?
We’d be in catastrophe
It would not be funny
There’d be no honey
No summer hum in the grasses
No time that passes
No buzz in the field
No flowers or crops
No yield


Where would we be?
Without the humble bumble 
We’d stumble and crumble
And tumble into the pit
It would be
It

Lesley Scoble – 18 July 2020
White-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum) on verbena (verbena brasiliensis) | Photo: Lesley Scoble

The main threat to the bees’ survival (and ours) is the use of toxic pesticides and habitat loss

Once upon a time I sang a funny song about the bee!

The first time I sang on stage was singing a comedy song in a school show. I was very young (between 6-7 years old) and I was given a solo! The song was ‘The Bee Song’ immortalised by the comedian Arthur Askey.
There were a lot of words to learn! But, I was a student at a theatre school so learning copious lines was par for the course.

The Performance

It was the first night and I knew my parents were in the audience and I felt nervous. I was dressed up in a bee costume.

Waiting in the wings I was consumed with stage fright. But, no matter, as soon as I stepped on stage the nerves disappeared and I relaxed. I was in the spotlight and enjoying it.

My performance was going rather well—in fact, far better than I had expected!

Until…

I forgot the words!

Every Actor’s Nightmare

I dried!
Help! Every actor’s nightmare is to dry on stage! 
‘Think! Think! What are the words? Oh dear! What are the words!’
I am starting to panic. The lyrics are being elusive and I have to think fast. 

What can I do? The show must go on. And my drama teacher’s words come to mind ‘Keep in character whatever happens’ This maxim was drummed in to us in drama class. So, I carry on behaving like a bee. I do a sort of bee dance in the naive hope that the words might shortly be forthcoming.

I get into a bit of a flap!

I skip and hop around going from imaginary flower to flower and… I buzz. And buzz and buzz…and flap. Flap, flap, flap, flap. I am flapping my wings faster and faster! All the while frantically trying to remember the lyrics. I continue buzzing, buzzing, buzzing and repeating the lines from the chorus—

Bzz-bzz-bzz-bzz honey bee, honey bee,
Bzz if you like but don’t sting me,
Bzz-bzz-bzz-bzz honey bee, honey bee,
Bzz if you like but don’t sting me,

I repeat it over and over again while buzzing back and forth, round and round the stage for ages…and ages (well, that’s what bees do, right?). I am desperate for enlightenment and continue to hope that the next verse will come to me.
I buzzed some more — round and round, until at last, I buzzed into the .prompt corner in the wings to get a cue line. The prompt whispers the line in my ear, ‘Pardon?’ I said. The prompt then shouted the line and so the audience heard it too! Then I went buzzing back on stage to carry on with rest of the song. 

Applause!

My performance was received with rapturous applause. The audience was abuzz!

It was a triumph!

But, I do wonder, sometimes, if it was because it was actually FUNNY…or if they felt sorry for me…or grateful that it had finally come it’s torturous end.

*See below for words of the song in its entirety

The humble bumble at easel on a teasel!

White-tailed bumblebee on a teasel | Photo: Lesley Scoble

The Bee Song

(1. Verse)
Oh, what a wonderful thing to be
A healthy grown-up busy busy bee
whiling always all the passing hours
Pinching all the pollen from the cauliflowers
I’d like to be a busy little bee
Being just as busy as a bee can be
Flying around the garden, brightest ever seen
Taking back the honey to the dear old queen

(Chorus)
Bzz-bzz -bzz-bzz, honey bee, honey bee
Buzz if you like, but don’t sting me
Bzz-bzz-bzz-bzz honey bee, honey bee
Buzz if you like, but don’t sting me

(2. Verse)
Oh, what a wonderful thing to be
A healthy grown-up busy busy bee
Toying with the tulips, tasting every type
Building up the honey-comb that looks like tripe
I’d like to be a busy little bee
being just as busy as a bee can bee
Flying all around in the wild hedgerows
Stinging all the cows upon the parson’s nose
Oh, what a wonderful thing to be
A healthy grown-up busy busy bee
Visiting the picnics, quite a little tease
Raising little lumps on the maiden’s knees
I’d like to be a busy little bee
Being with the butterfly strong upon the wing
Whooppee, o death, where is thy sting?

(Repeat Chorus)
Bzz-bzz -bzz-bzz, honey bee, honey bee
Buzz if you like, but don’t sting me
Bzz-bzz-bzz-bzz honey bee, honey bee
Buzz if you like, but don’t sting me

(3. Verse)

Oh, what a wonderful thing to be
A nice obedient busy busy bee
To be a good bee one must contrive
For bees in a beehive must behave
But maybe I wouldn’t be a bee
Bees are alright when alive, you see
But when bees die, you really should see ‘em
Pinned on a card in a dirty museum (I don’t agree with this!)

(Final Chorus)
Bzz-bzz-bzz-bzz honey bee, honey bee
Bzz if you like but don’t sting me
Bzz
Bzz-bzz-bzz-bzz honey bee, honey bee
Bzz if you like but if you sting me
I’ll whack ye
With this great newspaper!

Kenneth Blain

Enjoy this very short film clip of honeybees and bumble bees on lavender

Short clip features honeybee and bumblebee

Time for me to buzz off now!
So, I will leave you with the famous catchphrase of Arthur Askey

Ay-thang-yew

Arthur Askey

Bee kind — take care and keep safe 🐝

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s