How the bee got its sting
There was once a fly who liked flowers. He didn’t know WHY he liked flowers, but they fascinated him. All he wanted to do, all day, was to be as close to flowers as he could – to see them, to listen to them rustle in the wind, to smell their fragrance.
“Oh, how good it is to be free, with nothing to do but smell the flowers!” the fly would exclaim, to no one in particular, as he made his way from one beauty to another.
But even flower-sniffing has its perils. In the morning, a black bull was walking by, and his tail swished very close to the tiny fly.
“Look out, you idiot!” yelled the fly (he was prone to name calling; he was not much a “people person”, even by animal standards).
Hordes of clumsy cows were massed over the fields. The fly headed over the water to get away from there. But by a particularly pretty water lily another surprise awaited him. A frog reached out her tongue, and very nearly ended the fly’s flower-observing career for good.
The fly was so upset and shaken by this sudden adventure that he sat on a high rock, away from all bulls and frogs and even his cherished flowers, and stayed there for a long while. For such a long while, in fact, that Mother Nature (who is never as far away as you might think) strolled up to ask him what was the matter.
“What’s the matter? A nasty, filthy frog has just tried to eat me!” said the fly.
“I see. And did it?”
The fly ignored the question. “I am going to sit here all day and all night. At least that way, no one can have me for their dinner.”
“Ah,” Mother Nature replied. “But I need you to smell the flowers.”
The fly was rather taken aback by Mother Nature’s statement, which sounded a little too much like a declaration of rank. “What are you talking about? I smell the flowers for my own sake, not for anyone else,” he huffed.
“No,” Mother Nature said with a smile, “you smell them for me, too.”
This baffled the fly, and upset him, too. No one had ever asked him to take any interest in flowers. It was a hobby of his, and a cherished one, and he did not like this suggestion of serious employ. But he needed to say something, so he responded, “Well, if you want me to go on smelling flowers, Mother Nature, I suggest you come up with some way for me to protect myself. Because I’m not going out there without a weapon.”
“Very well,” said Mother Nature, and drifted away, in that blithe way of hers.
The fly turned their conversation over in his mind all night long. It was only a very small mind, and a very large conversation, so it took him a long time to make all the rotations. What was Mother Nature up to now? Had she promised something to her, then? Or was she walking away and leaving him to his own devices?
He was mulling this all which such a ferocious intensity that he didn’t notice Mother Nature’s return, until she spoke.
“I have considered your offer, little fly, and I have decided to accept.” She held between her fingers a beautiful, perfect stinger, that glistened in the sun.
“Well, thanks very much!” said the fly, and tried to grab the stinger – but Mother Nature, frustatingly for him, held on.
“You must only use this stinger,” she said, “under the most desperate circumstances.”
The fly, hearing this, mustered up his absolute most serious face. “I will exercise every caution,” he said, solmenly. “Now –”
“Because you wield such a mighty cutlass, I am going to make your coat yellow, so others can see you coming. And your buzz will warn others you are near.”
“Fine, fine,” said the bee, secretly delighted that others would steer clear of him. “Well, then –”
“There’s more,” said Mother Nature, and the fly groaned. It was always more, with Mother Nature, if it was not enough.
“Do tell me then, Mrs. N. And make it quick, I have flowers to sniff today – IF you don’t mind,” he added, remembering his courtesy.
“I will give you this stinger, so you can enjoy your flowers in peace,” she said. (was there a hint of a wink when Mother Nature said “your”? I can’t remember, now that you ask.) “But every Sunday, you must go to the yellow church and share with the others like you what you have seen, and where you have been, and what the dangers, and what the joys. For there are many like you, who take the flowers seriously.”
Well, this was too much, and a flight too far, and quite frankly, it was unfair. The poor little bee had, at great cost, agreed to the coat, and the loud buzz, and to not use his stinger unless he really, really wanted to. And besides which, was he not doing the work of Mother Nature, flying from flower to flower? She had admitted as much, the day before. Now she wanted to tie him down, take away his freedom. What a bitter disappointment.
The fly was about to turn his back, when Mother Nature lifted her mighty hand.
“One more thing, my mighty friend,” she said. “Do all this for me – and I will make the flowers taste delicious. More delicious then you have ever known.” There, growing from her palm, was a single dandelion. And the bee tasted.
He couldn’t wait to tell someone about it.