About a Bee
‘Why do all the kids at school scream when a bee flies in?’ Belle looked up at me, cornflower blue eyes reflecting the low sun rays.
I sigh. I’ve always wondered the same thing. Having grown up in the backwoods of Norfolk, their lazy buzzing symphony around Mum’s pansy plot was a soothing alarm clock in summer.
‘Look, there’s one!’ Squealing, Belle jumps up from the tartan picnic blanket and points to the sky.
On cue, like a miniature gold and black helicopter, a fat, fuzzy bumble bee drifted over our heads on the balmy breeze. Its wings were little more than cobwebs, flapping in the corner of an old cabinet.
I smile, a feeling of warmth spreading inside me as I watch Belle hop up and down and clap her hands.
Despite being halfway across the meadow now, we still trail the bee’s journey. Up, down, back, forth, loop-de-loop until it finally lands on a blood red poppy, that waggles as the little creature rummages for pollen.
‘Is it true they die if they sting you?’ Belle’s face was suddenly grave, and it feels like a sulphur fog surrounds us. Looking down at the perfectly trimmed grass, I frown and nod.
It’s a fact that had kept me awake, night after night, in the old barn conversion I grew up in.
It was the first time I had been stung and I was probably about the same age as Belle is now. I had been searching for caterpillars amongst the hydrangeas at the front of the house when I’d stuffed a sticky hand into a bunch of petals. A sharp sting drew a shriek from me, and I ran in the house, tears streaming dirty rivers down my cheeks.
Mum dried her hands on a floral tea towel and pulled a pair of tweezers from her handbag.
The little black barb hurt more coming out and the red lump was on fire.
‘Don’t worry,’ Mum said, going back to her washing up. ‘They die after they use their sting, so there’s nothing to worry about now.’
I was staggered.