Wednesday, April 22, 2009
It is bad enough that the star of Bee Movie is a drone, wrongly shown as a working (nectar-gathering, honey-making) bee, wrongly insinuating to a generation of cartoon-goggle-eyed children that the sexism of the human world they know so well is mirrored in the apian world, which it is not, but it is truly egregious that the lovely industrious honeybee is used as a weapon in wars waged by man against man, which is to say, having nothing at all to do with bees, but now we learn that insects, formerly used as physical weapons in warfare, are now being used as psychological weapons in the torture of suspected miscreants.
It was bad enough perfectly beautiful beehives (those space-saving hexagons, those industrious bees, the sweet fruit of their labors) were catapulted over the parapet to repel the invaders (Huns, Tatars, Mongols, Gauls, Visigoths, Saracens, you pick), but now it seems that the very fear of an insect is used as an interrogation technique. Jeffrey Lockwood, author of Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War, discusses this in his OpEd in this past Sunday’s Times. (What with T being bitten by a rabid dog in Hanoi and CSB getting a kidney stone on his birthday, I was late in reading the Sunday paper this week.)
And on the subject of the mistreatment of honeybees, on this early spring day I would like to address the chronic misidentification of bees as the source of stings. So often people will complain of being stung by a bee when it is patently obvious that the offender was a yellow jacket or a wasp. Honeybees are rarely interested in people and only sting when they feel threatened, hence the vast majority of their stings go to beekeepers who are occasionally forced to work the hives and be bothersome. The insects that loiter around picnic tables and soda cans are yellow jackets as well; honeybees have better things to do. I mention these facts because no one likes to be blamed for crimes not committed. Am I anthropomorphizing? Perhaps.