The trouble with boys and bees

by Louise (@louisetickle)

I’ve just signed me and the boys up to the Wildlife Trusts nature extravaganza ’30 Days Wild’. The idea is to do one wildlife-related activity every day for the whole of June. God only knows how many packets of Quavers and chocolate buttons will be required as inducements in order to accomplish this with an eight- and six-year old in tow, but I’m comforting myself with the thought that most days, we walk to school through a field and small woodland, so hopefully I’ll find a few helpful beetles, spiders and snails along the way. They count, right? Maybe we’ll actually squish open the sheep poo we walk though daily to find out what it’s made of – and we hear tawny owls along that route when coming back from after-school club, so we could even try hunting for pellets if we’re feeling adventurous (who am I kidding – we’re never going to find an owl pellet, but hey, the boys don’t need to know that).

A bit of a problem we’re facing at the moment in our wildlife quest is the fact that both boys have decided they’re terrified of bees. Given that great big furry bumblebees are just starting to buzz lazily amongst the clover now thickly carpeting our raggedy lawn, this newfound fear of going into the garden is not hugely helpful to our project.

Bumblebee on hydrangea

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Their dad @deepdarkwood and I have tried explaining that people don’t taste anything like nectar but the kids aren’t buying it. Sam, the eldest, did get stung as a toddler, but Mungo’s never been hurt by bees or wasps or indeed any insect as far as we know. However, anything small and stripy that flies is now, to both boys, ‘a bee’ – actually, “A BEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!” – and to be avoided at all costs.

My sense is that it’s the noise that really freaks them out. That buzzing sound, low and ominous, like a warning. Unfortunately no sensible discussion of bee motivation has to date convinced the child hurtling into our arms that he’s not about to be stung to death by a creature the size of his big toe.

Some more bumblebees – just for fun

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So it looks like we will have to try to avoid bees – bit tricky – for the whole of our June-long quest, and see how we get on with other, less petrifying wildlife. Like wild boar in the Forest of Dean which both boys have told us they’d like to go in search of again. Or adders in the Wyre Forest. Or polar bears or sharks or packs of wolves… they’re game for any of those. But not bees. Because bees, obviously, are scary.


Book now to get your earlybird tickets for Writing the Wild, a weekend nature writing course on and around the Pembrokeshire coast, designed  by award-winning journalist Louise Tickle and @deepdarkwood – aka James Fair, environment editor of BBC Wildlife magazine.

Writing the Wild runs from 29 September to 1 October, and includes a trip to the fabulous RSPB  Ramsey island reserve to see newborn seal pups on the storm beaches, a guided nature walk with wildlife author and broadcaster Iolo Williams, plus tutored writing exercises and opportunities for one-to-one feedback. More details and how to book on the Tooth and Claw website.

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