Blossom time once more recalls what Samuel Goldwyn is supposed to have exclaimed when he received a movie script by the celebrated Belgian author of "The Blue Bird," Maurice Maeterlinck:
"The hero is a bee!"m
But the bees deserve a kind of stardom, especially when they pollinate whole orchards, as in Florida, or buzz in by the truckload to do the same for the blueberries in Maine, as they are doing right now. No bees, no berries.
It shouldn't take a National Bee Week for everybody to celebrate what the bees, with their well-known work ethic, have to go through to put all that fruit , let alone honey, on our tables.
Housing and heating alone constitute a challenge for bees that should bring empathy from the members of today's mobile society. If you don't believe us, take a look at Bernd Heinrich's article in the new Scientific American, "The Regulation of Temperature in the Honeybee Swarm." Certainly Goldwyn could have drawn a movie full of heart throbs and laughter from this epic, possibly under the title "The Best Years of Our Hives." For the bees keep changing their hives, moving from overcrowded quarters to set up new colonies.
The thing is that they leave home before their scouts have found the new site , usually a cavity in a tree. While the scouts "pace off the interior dimensions of the cavity" -- and then come back to "advertise" what they have found in competition with other scouts -- the swarm clusters together and hangs from some object near the old hive.
Here is where the heating comes in. The clustered bees have to be a certain temperature to take off in flight. They shiver to raise their body heat. It appears that the bees on the outside shiver simply to regulate their own temperature, but this has the effect of helping the bees on the inside, too. So when the scouts find just the right new home, the whole shivering household can be ready to go.
If all this is presented with the proper background music, there won't be a dry eye in the house. Doesn't it make you want to take a bee to lunch this week?