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Stitch N’ Bitch: Observing The Work of Bees in the Land of Bilk and Honey June 12, 2009


The Beekeeper’s Daughter

A garden of mouthings. Purple, scarlet-speckled, black
The great corollas dilate, peeling back their silks.
Their musk encroaches, circle after circle,
A well of scents almost too dense to breathe in.
Hieratical in your frock coat, maestro of the bees,
You move among the many-breasted hives,

My heart under your foot, sister of a stone.

Trumpet-throats open to the beaks of birds.
The Golden Rain Tree drips its powders down.
In these little boudoirs streaked with orange and red
The anthers nod their heads, potent as kings
To father dynasties. The air is rich.
Here is a queenship no mother can contest —

A fruit that’s death to taste: dark flesh, dark parings.

In burrows narrow as a finger, solitary bees
Keep house among the grasses. Kneeling down
I set my eyes to a hole-mouth and meet an eye
Round, green, disconsolate as a tear.
Father, bridegroom, in this Easter egg
Under the coronal of sugar roses

The queen bee marries the winter of your year

-Sylvia Plath

Long before video games and Play Stations, kids had View-Masters, a stereoscopic toy that allows the viewer to see 3-D images. Mine was big and turquoise and was very special because it had sound. I had lots of reels or disks but I pad attention one more than the others and that was my Winnie The Pooh set. I would watch the story of Pooh over and over again. One still in particular always amazed me. Winnie the Pooh somehow gets himself into a bee hive and there is all of this honey. Of course being Pooh, he begins to gorge himself on the sweet and sticky treat. The inside of the bee hive was depicted in great detail. You could see the honey dripping from the hexagonal wall of wax cells.

reel_winnie1_smAfter many moments of clicking my View-Matser’s lever, I would always come back to that particular slide. Having finished with my toy, I would consult my second favorite toy, my complete set of the World Book  Encyclopedia.  “World Books” as I later understood were pretty damn expensive. How we welfare folk were able to own one is still an unsolved mystery.  Mother said that it came from my brother who was 17 at the time -which meant that our set was either stolen or he tried his hand at being a World Book salesman for about two minutes and kept the demo set. As I am writing this, I think the case may have been the latter or was some combination of the two theories.  Curiosity aside, we were too poor to own an encyclopedia set and the only family I knew in our neighborhood that had one. Most kids had to go to the library to write their reports, lucky me had my World Books at hand.  Our set was from 1972, I think the last president in it was Nixon. The question of updating the set never occurred to me, or my mother.  Not that we had the funds or thieves at hand to do that anyway. Over the years I had dogeared pages about  my favorite subjects in each volume. Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, dog breeds, cat breeds, Amelia Earheart, Agatha Christie, television, gum, candy, Czar Nikolai, the Wright Brothers and of course bees.

That magnificent picture of Winnie the Pooh in the land of honey haunted me. I wanted to know what sort of insect this was that made it’s own beautiful house of wax and sweet gooey stuff. How did they make those hexagonal shapes so perfectly? How could something that is so beautiful and useful to man cause so much pain? Why did the queen bee kill the drones?  These questions all point to my love/hate relationship with bees. I was intensely fearful of them and would run away from a picnic table lunch faster than Wilma Rudolph  when a yellow and black intruder buzzed by. Actually, I was mostly familiar with yellow jackets. I just thought they were bees. When mother and I waited for the bus, they would swarm around us, especially if I smelled like Nivea cream or cocoa butter.  Besides the “B” volume of my encyclopedia set, I also had a cinematic precedence for bee-havior.  The 1960’s “The Outer Limits” television series was a religiously watched program in my house. The episode “ZZZZ” further played into my fear and fascination of bees.  The story features an entomologist named Professor Ben Fields.  Fields is obsessed with his research on bees. Out of nowhere comes a very sexy and mysterious research assistant who is really a queen bee that somehow became human.

Then there was the 1978  B-film with A list actors  The Swarm:

Geeze no wonder, I was afraid of bees watching films like that.

“But don’t you understand?” mother would say. “Bees sting people but they also pollinate flowers and make honey that man uses as a sweetener.  They are good insects. Not like houseflies, spiders or cock roaches. They are like the silkworm I told you about before.”

bee artHer explanation still did not convince me to make peace with bees.Downtown Chicago used to have a market store called “Stop and Shop”. We went there one afternoon and mother bought some natural honey still in the comb. I touched the hardened fossil like structure. The bee’s work was so intricate and beautiful. Later mother made honey sandwiches and gave me a glass of Carnation milk. ” Winnie the Pooh was wrong to go into that beehive,” she said. Her voice was punctuated with a moral tone. “He was stealing their honey and an intruder in their house.”

“Like a burglar.”  I said.

“Yes, like a burglar…How would you feel if you had worked all day to make that honey and someone came in and stole it? Even worse eating right there in your own house? Bees only sting to protect themselves.”

I nodded. There were still things I did not understand. “So why does the queen bee kill all of the boy bees who help her make babies?”

Mother paused. These things were unknown to her, at least scientifically but she explained it the best way she could. “…Because a queen bee can only have one king at a time.”

Well that made perfectly good sense to me.  By this time I was about ten years old and living in the suburbs. Here my science classes took a more creative twist as my teachers would invite really cool people to give us demonstrations.  teacher would always give us a heads up about the special visitor. There was once when the special vistor announcement caught me by surprise.


Historic photo "Joseph Cizek The Beekeeper" of Manitowoc County Wisconsin

GULP. Bees in class!!!But I am afraid of bees. Should I feign having strep throat…again? That night I spoke with my mother about the beekeeper coming to class and she assured me that teacher would not let anything like a killer swarm harm us. Just to be sure, little Afrocity came prepared to class by wearing three long-sleeved shirts and a sweater.  All through lunch period, I was nervous. Maybe I should go to the nurse’s office I thought but I hated the nurse andshe always did head lice checks on us whether we had lice or not. The sight of her going through my nappy hair with a tongue depressor was too much for me to bear. I decided to stick it out.

One o’clock came and the young but weathered beekeeper came to class dressed in his white bee keepers uniform with his apiary supplies. There was an empty hive, samples of honey, bees of course but thankfully they were behind glass. He set up in the front of the class on teacher’s desk. My classmates all gathered around. Afrocity stayed in the back of the classroom…Way in the back of the classroom.  Teacher looked at me and shook her head.

“That is normal for some of the kids to run away from me,” said the beekeeper. ” She will come around.  I will smoke ‘er out.”

No you won’t I thought. I stayed in back as he showed the different panels of honeycombs and bees.  I could see just fine from Alaska. They were like Russia to me now.  However, the beekeeper would not give up on me.

“Knock, Knock” he said pointing at me in the back.

I was puzzled as the others snickered “scare-dee cat” and clucking like chickens.

“Who’s there?” I answered.


“Honeycomb who?”

Honey comb your hair.” He laughed.

Laughter roared from  everyone, even my teacher.  I was not amused. Besides Carl and Tonya, I was the only black kid in class. Being schooled alongside white girls with long blond hair had made me quite sensitive about my locks. I thought he was making fun of my hair which was a mess because mother as usual was too depressed to help me with it. My ponytails looked like a weather vein. Beekeeper wasn’t getting a damn thing from this little black girl but an icy stare.  I remained at the back of the room.

Now he told us that he owuld let a bee sting him on purpose because he wanted to demonstrate that a bee dies after it stings you. He took a bee out of a jar. The students did back away from him as he cupped the bee in his hand.

“Ouch!” he exclaimed.  He held his hand flat and the bee was just hanging there until it fell dead to the floor. “The stinger is still in me,” he explained. “But the bee is dead…”   This lead into his spill about bee stings and first aid safety.

The strange thing was he never gave up on me. He brought out the big guns. FOOD.   Samples of bread and honey were given to the class. Honey in jars that were colors I had never seen before.  He signaled for me to come up front. I was strong and shook my head.  Candles made of beeswax were also discussed and passed around class. Finally he had enough of my insolence and came back to where I was seated.  Kneeling in front of me he whispered. “Now see here. You are making me look bad in front of all of my bees and when I get home they may not listen to me. You know what that means?”

Bumble Bee Pin

Bumble Bee Pin

I shook my head.

“That means they may come and find you at your house. They are smart and they know where you live.”

He was right. In that movie The Swarm, the bees could talk to one another and find specific people.

“You don’t want that to happen do you? Waking up and finding them outside all over your bedroom window and they will spell out your name too. Now if you promise to come up front with the others, the bees will forgive you and let you have a jar of honey and a couple of candles…would you like that?”

What an appealing offer because 1. There was not much food at home. The honey would come in handy and 2. Our electricity was turned off (again) because the bill had not been paid in months. We were using candles to see at night.

“Ok.” I said reluctantly. “Is the queen bee up there too? ” She was the one I was afraid of the most.

“Yes she is but she is all locked up,” he assured me.

I came to the front of the class. “Isn’t Afrocity a brave girl.” teacher praised me.   I looked at the bees up close behind the glass. I even touched the empty beehive. It felt just the way it looked in the View-Master.  At the end of the day  Afrocity went skipping home with a huge jar of honey and six candles made of beeswax all tied neatly with butcher string.  That night mother and I had plenty of light and honey all thanks to the bees.  I learned that bees are useful to man after all.

I am sure you have become impatient with me at this point. Afrocity what do bees have to do with politics? Everything. Think of the worker bees- Congress. The queen bees- Nancy Pelosi (a busy body bee), Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin (who is a bit more conservative with her honey), Michelle Obama (this bee only knows how to sting.  Remember there can only be one queen bee at a time in any given hive. Taking a look at the White House, Michelle has her work cut out for her with her mom and Valerie Jarrett there. In fact First Lady Michelle  Obama’s Cheif of Staff, Jackie Norris just resigned last week:

Michelle Obama is going "organic' by having an apiary on the White House lawn

Michelle Obama is going "organic' by having an apiary on the White House lawn. Charlie Brandts, a White House carpenter for 25 years, is now the First Beekeeper!

Fox News:

June 6, 2009

Official: Michelle Obama’s Top Aide Resigned to Escape Bureaucracy

Jackie Norris, who worked on the president’s campaign in Iowa, didn’t enjoy the management and scheduling duties and the large social aspect of the job, a senior official told Politico.

Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, Jackie Norris, stepped down after becoming disillusioned with the bureaucratic part of the job, a senior administration official told Politico.

Norris, who worked on the president’s campaign in Iowa, didn’t enjoy the management and scheduling duties and the large social aspect of the job, the official told the publication.

Norris will become a senior adviser to the Corporation for National and Community Service. She will continue to work with the first lady’s office and the administration as it enacts a new law to expand national community service programs.

Obama’s longtime friend and adviser from Chicago, Susan Sher, is replacing Norris as Obama’s top aide. Sher joined the administration as an associate counsel to the president. Sher and Michelle Obama worked together at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Norris is the second senior official to leave the White House only five months into Obama’s presidency. Communications director Ellen Moran resigned last month.

Got Bilk?

Got Bilk?

Upon learning this news, I knew that something was stirring in the “White Hive”.   We did not hear much about this in last week’s news cycle. I did find it comical that Obama and his promise of bringing change to Washington sounds  a lot more like the same ol’ same ol’ bureaucracy and people getting stung in the butt. Obama’s words are like honey. Sweet, syrupy, dripping and magical. Obamabees are like our ol’ pal Winnie the Pooh. Eating the stuff up until they are sick to their stomachs. “Wash it down with more Kool Aid kiddos. “BARRY’S GOLD”, gets smoked out of the hive everyday. He is the beekeeper. “Come on Obamabees you guys have to get to work.” Obama warns them that they will be cold and hungry if they don’t shake that ACORN tree and get some votes. Sasha and Malia, the “beekeeper’s daughters” are so picturesque as they play on the White House lawn with Bo, the Portuguese Water Dog. The Obamabees draw closer as they watch Camelot 2.0 unfolding before their very eyes.  Honey and hope and universal health care. What more could a bee ask for?

Well you could pull the stingers out of your eyes and see what is going on within the hive. America is not the land of milk and honey. It is more like the land of BILK AND HONEY. The “bilk” is supplied by the Obama worker bees. The Pelosis and Harry Reids. The Barney Franks, Rahm Emmanuels. The “honey” of course is supplied by Barry Bee. Make sure you bring along plenty of “Wet Ones”  when you listen to those speeches. Those words may be the bees knees but that teleprompter is dripping with sticky honey which attracts flies and maggots.

Speaking of drones and workers. It seems that the Beekeeper In Chief is smoking out a worker bee that did not get with the “transparency” program.

Washington Examiner

June 11, 2009

What’s behind Obama’s sudden attempt to fire the AmeriCorps inspector general?

By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
06/11/09 8:14 PM EDT

There are a number of unanswered questions today about President Obama’s abrupt decision to fire the inspector general of the AmeriCorps program, Gerald Walpin.  Obama sent letters to House and Senate leaders yesterday informing them that he was firing Walpin, effective 30 days from the date of the letters.

“It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General,” the president wrote.  “That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector GeneralThe bigger question is why the president is doing this and why he is attempting to do it so quickly.  Senate sources now believe Obama is firing Walpin over Walpin’s investigation of Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star and a prominent supporter of the president.

Johnson, now the mayor of Sacramento, California, started a non-profit organization called St. Hope. The group’s mission, according to its website, is “to revitalize inner-city communities through public education, civic leadership, economic development and the arts.”  As part of its work, St. Hope received a grant of about $850,000 from AmeriCorps.

Last year, Walpin began an investigation of how Johnson’s group spent the money.  According to the Associated Press, “[Walpin] found that Johnson, a former all-star point guard for the Phoenix Suns, had used AmeriCorps grants to pay volunteers to engage in school-board political activities, run personal errands for Johnson and even wash his car.” Walpin asked federal prosecutors to investigate.  In April, the U.S. attorney in Sacramento, a Bush holdover, declined to file any criminal charges in the matter and also criticized Walpin’s investigation…The bottom line is that the AmeriCorps IG accused a prominent Obama supporter of misusing AmeriCorps grant money.  After an investigation, the prominent Obama supporter had to pay back more than $400,000 of that grant money.  And Obama fired the AmeriCorps IG .”

Hmmm,  not much buzz about this in the mainstream media either. All I hear lately is crickets.

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Landscaping Plan for Obama White House Organic Garden Which will include beehives.