A Fairy Tale
Our story starts with a bee hive of negligible proportions and small beginnings. The bees from the hive worked tirelessly throughout the whole year. Small worker bees would wake up just as the sun was peeking over the horizon and set out in all direction for miles on out. They scoured the lands testing and sampling the air for a whiff of the scent of blooming flowers. Once they caught the scent they would whizz their way over to the flower, take pollen and nectar, and off to the next flower they’d go. After a hard days work of scouring and collecting pollen and nectar they would make their way to the hive to deposit all of their collected goods. The pollen and nectar collected was the lifeblood of the hive. The nectar and pollen would go through a process and transform into honey and other food stuff. It provided a rich and delicious food supply for the bees, some of which was used to feed the small and defenseless hatchlings. In time the new hatchlings would also take up arms and fly to the sky to collect alms for the great hive themselves. The hive itself was nestled carefully and tightly inside the trunk of a fallen pine tree. It kept the hive protected on all sides and provided shelter from the rain and the elements.
One day as nature would have it, a wrathful bear happened to be tromping through the forest when he hit upon the scent of sweet honey. The bear searched high and low, going wherever his nose led him, until at last he came upon the log that housed the bee hive. He took a deep whiff and smelt the honey until at last he could no longer resist its draw. And so the great and prideful bear exclaimed to the bees.
“Small bees I’ve come to take your honey! Today I’ll take half of your comb, but make haste to rebuild. For in half a year I’ll be back to take from your hive again! hahaha”
Having forewarned the bees, the bear dived snout first into an opening in the log. He pried the dry and gnarled bark apart until the hive was naked and in full view before him. His eyes glistened and he lustfully tore at the hive and took exactly half as he had promised. The bees watched in horror as the events unfolded before their eyes, but in an instant they came out of their stupor and buzzed and writhed with hate and anger. The bees were tiny and small, but they were large in heart and courage. They stung and jabbed at the bear all over, though they quickly realized that the bears thick hide was too hard to get through. They quickly moved to the bears face which was bare and open for attack. So as the bear ravaged their home little by little, they stung and bit, until at last the bear left. The hive was littered with the small bodies of their fallen brethren. The bees buzzed above the remains of their home and they all felt shock and awe, but slowly these feelings gave way to a bitter anger at their inability to stop the bear.
The bear trotted away with a swollen, bruised and inflamed face. He tripped over stumps and bumps on the ground, and had a time trying to get back to his den. His eyes were almost completely shut due to the swelling, and his face and mouth were covered in the bee stingers which he tried to brush off with his paw, but their poison had already coursed through his body. The stingers were like scorching daggers digging and spreading their fire under his skin. The bear roared and stomped the ground in pain and anger, until he came upon a small pond. He saw his reflection in the water and saw his tongue and mouth ballooned to twice their size, he dipped his face in water but it didn’t relieve his pain in the least. So he tromped, paced and bared with the pain for a whole night. The bear hated it; the stinging, the pain, the swelling, but in all this he remembered that he had taken half of the bees honey, he remembered how delicious the honey had been, and that he had made a promise to take half later that year. The bear took respite in this thought and relished the idea of taking and ravaging from the bees again. “What joy!” the bear thought amidst the haziness of the pain and stingers. Then happiness suddenly overtook him and he gave a hearty laugh as he headed back into his den.
In this 6 month period the bees took no rest and continued as they did before the day of the attack. The small worker bees would go out each day in search of pollen from any tree, blossom, or flower. For 6 months they continued in this manner, growing and expanding their hive to the size greater than it ever was. The hive had even given rise to a new Queen! The queen bee soon took flight to make a new hive in the surrounding mountain range. The bees faintly remembered the promise given to them by the bear. They hoped it was a fluke, or perhaps that the bear would forget. In either case what could they do in the meantime but to concentrate at the task at hand each day? And so the bees waited in an anxiety that bordered the line of agony at the expectation of what would come. A day soon became a week, and each week a month, until soon 6 months had passed in time.
Around this time the great big bear remembered his promise to the little bees. He licked his chops at the idea of fresh honey and comb, and his mouth as if sensing the near future could do nothing but drool in rivers down his mouth. It was good he had given the bees his solemn promise to be back in 6 months he thought. The bear stood and lumbered back to the hive, guided by his memory and sharp nose, until he was in sight of the old log againe. He looked in awe and saw that the bees had been most diligent! The hive was no less than 3 times the size that he had left it!
“HAHAHA. Little bees I promised to be back in 6 months and here I am to keep good on that promise. I see that all of you have been dedicated to rebuilding the hive to its former size and more. Thank you, I’ll be enjoying myself, and know that after today it will be halved again. HAHAHAHA!” The bear plunged snout first into the log and took exactly half of the comb, but the bees were not sitting idle, by the time the bear was finished his face had swollen up like a balloon. The bear scampered off with the small piece he had left and roared back.
“Remember! Half a year. HAHAHA”
The bear scampered off away from the hive and towards his den. For the next couple hours he was in excruciating pain. It was a sharp needle like pain that gave his mind no other thought but on the pain itself. He paced back and forth in front of his home cursing the pain and his bees. His eyes were almost completely shut from the fiery stings and the swelling, but he had gotten the comb and still had some left. He clumsily scooped it in his mouth and chewed awkwardly. “Ahhh…. Delicious!” as the sweetness of the nectar over-flooded his taste buds. His anger, pain, pride, and want was tamed for as long he continued to enjoy the sweetness of the honey.
Now as it was, a fox had been keeping his eye on the situation between the bees and the bear as it unfolded. Let it be known that the fox loved honey very much, but his hide was not as thick and resilient as the bears. But one thing he was. He was a keen and sly fox. So a day after the bear had left the bees, the fox approached the ravaged hive. A little less than half the little beasts were left alive and all were in high alert. They immediately surrounded the intruder.
“What do you want fox!”, they all cried out ready to sting at the slightest provocation.
“Hold, hold! I’ve been watching from the hill above, and I’ve seen how that evil bear takes half of your comb every half year. I’m here because I can get the bear to go away!”
The words of the fox struck the bees, and the small embers of hope had lit up in the hearts of each of these little creatures. What if? What if the fox really could get the bear to go away? What if their home needn’t be destroyed every couple months? These questions and more flashed by in the bees minds. After a short pause they cried out.
The fox responded
“I know a lot about the bear and about his weaknesses. You see there’s a pollen from a special flower that blooms high in the mountain, that on the first scent will positively put the bear in a trance. Its a very rare flower but I know the areas where they grow and bloom, it’s said the druid of the forest and his pixies tend to and give it its magical properties. The next time he comes around I’ll somehow waft the flower near his nose, I’ll ward him off and your honey will be safe from the bear.”
The fox paused for a moment to further the impact of his next words.
“All I ask in return is 40% of your comb whenever the bear comes over. But know that its for the danger I take upon myself and for the time and effort it takes me to find this special flower.”
“What do you say bees?”
The bees buzzed and discussed the offer. They were all one entity, and all had the very best intentions for their hive but there was a disconnect in how to protect it and move forward. There were many groups and trains of thoughts that emerged and the bees started to huddle with those that were like minded.
Some of the bees were weary, tired, and resigned to the fact that the bear would take part of their livelihood every so often. These bees had a heavy heart and looking for any means to alleviate their feelings and their fate. So when the hope that the fox could ward off the bear was lighted inside of them, they dared not let that fire go out. They fanned the small ember and made it grow stronger and brighter by any means. The bees in this group started to become hopeful and some were even positively sure that the fox would stop the bear. Many in this group looked up to the fox as a good creature filled with only the best of intentions towards the bees.
“Why would the fox help us if not for his good intentions? We’ve all heard how cunning and keen the fox is, but all animals can have a change of heart, can they not? He’s willing to go through the trouble of finding this special flower, and for only 40% of our honey. The fox even brings up the druid of the forest, and no one in their right mind would use his name in vain or for personal gain! If we accept the offer and the fox keeps his end of the promise we won’t be harassed by the bear any more! We won’t have to suffer having our honey taken away from us. This is all good for us however you look at it. ” They thought to themselves.
Other bees from the same group were much more practical.
“40 percent is less than half, is it not?”
is what these bees thought.
There was also another group of bees that were against the idea of the fox helping them. These bees were also tired and weary, but for different reasons.
“Perhaps the fox could help us, but why would he put his life on the line for a bunch of bees? Also, we’ve all heard of how keen and cunning the fox is. Who’s to say this is not just another of his clever tricks? If we attack the bear in mass it could also be enough… Last time the bear could barely make his way out of the valley. If we aim for the face and eyes before he even gets close to our home we could get him to quit his game. We would make it so the pain we give him would not be worth the honey gets! We would lose more than half of our people though… But everything we make and build would be ours.” They thought to themselves.
There was also the more spirited and aggressive set of bees from this second group.
“Through jaw and stinger we’ll take from the bear what he took from us! He’s ravaged and taken from our home for the last year. How can we continue to live like this!? In constant fear and expectation of the paws of destruction. Knowing that another holds the keys to our livelihood and life… We’ll stop the bear whatever it takes!
There was a disconnect between the two groups of bees and what they thought best for the hive, so a vote was put out.
“Say aye, to give the fox his 40% in protection from the bear!”
The majority of the bees buzzed with furious approval and it was unnecessary to even hear the other side out. It was then decided that the fox would get his 40% as long as he kept his end of the bargain.
“We’ll take your offer fox!” the bee representatives cried out.
“Great” the fox said quietly,
“Then I’ll be back in 6 months time to stop the bear as I’ve promised.”
With that the fox turned to make his leave. As he walked away his lips twisted and formed a malicious and cunning smile.
Time passed and flew by, and a couple weeks before the destined date the fox went out in search of the bear. He found the bear lying in a heavy sleep near the entrance of a shallow den. The fox approached the entrance carefully, keeping a watchful eye on the movements of the bear.
The fox shouted into the den. His shrill voice rang and echoed throughout the cave until at last the bear heaved his eyes open to see the fox standing not 5 paces away in front of his home. The bear did not care to move and merely spoke from his position.
“And you? Who are you to wake me from my sleep?”
“Bear…” The fox started, quietly and calmly
“I’ve come because I know in 2 weeks time you’ll go to the bees. I’ve seen how much it pains and stings you to get the comb. Your eyes and snout close shut from the poison of the bees, and I’ve seen you pace in delirium and pain for hours on end, waiting for the fire to subside. Dare I say that the honey you get is not worth the effort that you put out.”
The bear shuddered at these words and the thought, for the fox was not lying and what he said was true. But in one thing he was wrong. The bear enjoyed and loved to take the delicious honey, there was a joy and pride in his taking it, and he didn’t forget how amazing the honey had been afterwards. The whole ordeal was absolutely worth it, and he would continue it until the day he died. The fox continued.
“I’ve come to offer you a way to get to the comb with not 1 sting, no bites, no swollen face or fiery pain to speak of. If you do as I say I promise you 2 tenths of the comb. What do you say?”
The bear was caught by surprise as he continued to listen. He looked the fox over suspiciously. He knew all about the conniving foxes and their tricky ways.
“Fox, do you know that I enjoy taking the comb. Did this ever occur to you? I go the bees and see them shudder with fear and knowing. I go there knowing that every little soul in that hive will try to subdue me, but I’ll always triumph! HAHAHAHA, and they know! They know that they’ll live, that I’ll always leave half for them and not a cell of honey less! There’s much joy in it wouldn’t you say?” The bear said with a wide and happy grin.
“Of course the honey is delicious as well.” the bear said, almost as an afterthought, as he started to reminisce about his time at the hive.
“I understand Bear, but why would you want to suffer the fiery barrage of thousands of bees for taking half a comb of honey when I can offer you 2 tenths with not 1 sting. All you would need to do is walk to the hive! At the very least you have nothing to lose by taking the offer.” The fox retorted.
“HAHAHAHA The stings are not too bad Fox!” The bear laughed with amusement, and continued on.
“But you say I having nothing to lose. I say I do! I take 5 portions and you only offer me 2! I’m losing out on 3 tenths of comb and honey!”
The fox smiled, everything was going smoothly.
“How about this Bear. I’ll give you half of my cut. You take 3 portions and I’ll take 1. You’re getting three times as much as I do, hardly a fair deal for me. You also know I couldn’t bear the barrage of the bees, and so I have to resort to this. I just want a bit of honey!”
This intrigued the bear. One thing he would miss would be the taking and the ravaging, but for all his fury and wrath, he was equally lazy and slothful, “The fox did mention I’d only have to walk there.” The bear also thought of himself getting 3 portions of honey and comb while the fox would only get 1. This thought amused him and he felt a subtle joy the more he played and tossed with the idea in his mind. What the fox said about the bees was also true, the fox’s pelt and fur was much to thin to withstand the brunt of the bee stingers. “Theres nothing to lose in seeing where this goes” the bear thought.
The bear lifted himself to face the fox.
“This all sounds interesting fox. What would you have me do?…”
It was a cool and misty day when the fox awoke. A chill had ran through the forest that made him shiver and he noticed that it had left a thin layer of dew on the forest floor. The fox extended his front paws out, stuck his rump out to the open sky, and let out a big yawn. As his senses came to him bit by bit, the thought of the bear and the bees came out to him from the fog of sleep. The fox scrambled up as it was almost mid day, the time the bees, the bear and he were supposed to meet. At once he started at a trot towards the hive. On the way, a small bunch of white dew covered daisies caught his eye. He plucked the bunch from out of the ground with his jaws and continued onward. The fox arrived at the hive before the appointed time and made his way towards the hive.
“Hello bees. These are the special flowers I was speaking of.”
As the fox said this he nestled the daisy bunch inside the log, right next to the hive.
“Don’t touch it, and let the bear make his way here to the hive, make sure to not antagonize or sting him!”
The bees were no fools for they knew most of the flowers and their scent, and what they made the flowers out to be was unmistakably a daisy bunch!
“FOX! What trickery is this, these are daisies! These are just daisies! What will these do, what nonsense is this!” The bees yelled out in unison. They all buzzed in confusion, fear, and anger for they knew they were being made fools of.
“Have faith you fools! Here he comes.”
They quickly made quiet under the state of utter confusion that they were in. The only thing they were capable of now was to let time unfold the events before them.
The figure of a great beast appeared in the hill beyond. The shape slowly made its way toward the hive until the figure of the bear could be made out.
“I’ve come to take half your honey bees! And you fox, what are you doing here? Don’t antagonize me and make way!”
“There will be no taking of honey today!” The fox yelped out in seriousness.
“Says who? You the fox! HAHAHA”
The bear guffawed out loud, for in all reality what could the fox do to stop his advance. Yet this was all part of a carefully planned facade and the bear remembered the foxes instructions well.
“I’ll antagonize you bear and you laugh it off, as what could I, a fox, really do to stop a bear. Remember though, the flowers. They’ll be placed next to the hive, and as you make your way to take a bite, make sure to inhale and to take a deep whiff. Then the crux of our plan! At that moment act dumbfounded. Then listen to me and my instruction and do as I say. Simple no? After this I promise you your honey!”
The fox couldn’t help but let out a smirk at the pure excitement and irony of everything taking place. No taking of honey would take place today, but there would be giving of honey!
Step by the step the bear made his way toward the hive, paying the fox no mind. The fox made way for the bear as he got closer to him and towards the hive. Meanwhile the bees watched dumbfounded at the events now unfolding. As the bear went to take his first bite, he noticed the daisies and took a deep whiff of their sweet scent, they were fresh and smelled beautifully. The bear then stepped back as if in a daze and fell back on his haunches. He stared forward pensively, with mouth ajar and without a mark of emotion as if put under a state of trance. Then the fox started.
“Now get up bear and leave this place, go filch some other hive!”
At once the bear got up, slowly turned, and made his way back towards the hill beyond. Once the bear had cleared the hill, fox approached the bees.
“There, as I promised bees. I’ve kept the bear away, now my cut of the comb.” he said.
Some of the bees were mesmerized at the performance, and others at the audacity of it all. They huddled together and all agreed that however they looked at it, he had kept the bear away, and so they consented on giving the fox his cut.
“Fox, your performance was great. We will give you 4 tenths of the comb today but in the future we will give only 2 tenths for your service. You’ve cheated us, and you know it well yourself!” The bees cried out in indignation. The fox paid no heed to the bees, he quickly came to the hive and gently took the section that was cordoned off. He walked a bit away then sat and looked pensively back at the bees. He had foreseen the bees making a fuss and in seconds many thoughts and ideas rushed the space in his mind, until at last one caught his fancy and taste. Many months ago while he was carefully eyeing the bees and the bear, he had made note that a queen bee had left this hive to make her home in the mountain range near by. The fox now had the seed of a plan, now he need only to plant it, tend to it, and watch it grow. So the fox turned up to the bees and exclaimed.
“Bees, don’t you see the value of what I’ve done for you! I protected you from the ravages of the bear who would have taken half and perhaps even more of your home! And now you try to pull the wool over my eyes! How can you be so ungracious!”
The fox had stammered over his words, and the more he talked the more he believed his own anger and reproach over the treatment of the bees.
“I came here to help you against this bear, and I only asked for 4 tenths of your comb in return as is only right for a service done! You say I’ve tricked you and cheated you, but I’ve kept my promise and my word! The bear came with the intention to take your honey by force and he left with not a paw on your hive, what else do you ask for! Tell me, what else could I have done.”
As he finished he turned tails in anger and stormed off with his prize in jaw.
The fox loped over the hill beyond and continued on until he met up with bear. He handed over 3 tenths of the comb that was promised while he gnawed on and enjoyed his tenth.
“HAHAHAHA!” The big bear bellowed out with a mouth full of comb and honey.
“You took the comb as you said, and you even came here when you could have taken it all. All this and without 1 sting. HAHAHA! What an honest thief you are!”
“I’m no thief!” The fox snapped back sharply.
“You’re even sly with yourself! HAHAHAHkakaka” The bear cried out to the point of choking with a mouth full of comb.
“Be quiet Bear, you talk too much gibberish. Anyways, I’ve need of you. You’ve seen the other hive that appeared nearby not so long ago, no?”
“Yes Fox, I’ve seen it. What about them?”
“Well, I’ve got a plan and I promise you 4 tenths combs of the hive from now on. You need only do 1 thing for me just this once. It might hurt for a bit, but I’ll make it worth your while.”
This grabbed the bears attention, and the bear quickly thought.
“The fox has come through and he’s kept his word on all he’s said till now…”
The bear replied.
“What would you have me do?…”
The next day the bear came over to the old hive in the log and shouted out to the bees.
“Yesterday the fox made a fool of me, he tricked me with those strange flowers, it dulled my wits and I left without taking any comb! After coming to my senses I made my way to your sister hive and devoured it all, there’s nothing left, and today I’ll make you a new promise! In 6 months time I’ll be back to do as I did to your sister hive, and gone you’ll be!”
“It was all a trick Bear, we know.” The bees shouted back. “There’s no way we’ll be tricked by you again.”
“I’ve made my promise bees, go see for yourselves. Just know that I’ll be back.” The bear turned and marched off away in real fury, with a face full of stingers and bites.
The bees were taken by surprise at the sudden appearance of the bear and his speech. A bee scout was sent and found that their sister hive had been eaten and done away with completely. Only scraps and pieces of comb were left in the after math of the carnage. Shortly after, the bee scout came back to inform the hive of the disaster. After the sudden news, the bees were bewildered and a fear of total annihilation 6 months from then had stung their hearts, sharply and acutely. There was one hope, and even most of those that were against the foxes help at first were swayed. The bees buzzed over the decision and decided by an overwhelming majority this time. Another bee scout was immediately sent to find Fox.
“Fox” they exclaimed.
“We apologize for yesterday and we know now that we were in the wrong. We will continue to give you 4 tenths of our comb if you protect us from Bear.”
“Bees” The fox said trying to hold back a smile of joy.
“You’ll have to offer more than that. I’ll take no less than half of your comb for reparation this time.”
The bees had already talked this situation over and were prepared to give much more to prevent their total destruction. After a short back and forth with Fox about the terms of their agreement they accepted protection for half of their comb every 6 months.
And so our story is almost at its close. Generations and generations of bees came and went. With time the fox and the bees of the hive became good acquaintances, not quite friends, but neither were they enemies nor on bad terms. The ritual with what soon became the good and helpful fox was re-enacted twice a year for many years. The fox would come to lay a small bushel of daisies in front of the hive as a token of good will and protection against the evils of the world, the bear would then come and show himself, and afterwards the bees would gift the fox half of their comb. It became a routine that embedded itself deeply into the lives of these creatures, one that they could not be taken away. The bees, the fox, and the bear all lived comfortably in the peace of routine for many years there after.
The bear died of old age many years later, yet the ritual continued unimpeded between the bees and the fox, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. The only thing that changed was the fox now accepted only 1 tenth of their comb. At first he had tried to take nothing from the bees, but they had asked him to take his tenth, if only he continued coming every 6 months with his flower and protection. Many of the wrongs and deeds of the past were forgiven and forgotten by the ongoing generation of bees, especially after the bear had left from this world to the next. The bees still had an ethereal and genetic memory of the bear. He had one day come to take and destroy the bees, sweeping away everything to naught like a raging fire through a forest. And now. Now the bear was gone.
One might imagine the bees of the hive as unhappy and reproachful for the difficult situations that mother nature had put it under, but this was not so, the bees managed to live and survive through the hardest of times. The small creatures were strong and resilient, yet small and meek. They cruised through the fresh open skies in continuous pursuit of the delicate scent of blooming flowers and blossoms, even while knowing that their efforts would be taken away every couple months. Now it was different. Yet, like clockwork the bees continued to collect pollen and nectar, day after day, and the hive as if a living and breathing creature grew in size with the care and nurture of the bees.
Many years passed and the fox had become old and ill. He knew his time was fast approaching. It was still 3 months away until he would visit his friends the bees again for their 6 month reunion. He was sure by then he’d be nestled back into the dark embrace of the green hills beyond, back with his conspirator the bear. The waning of his years had taken much of his keenness, sneakiness, and gusto and now he looked back at his long life and wondered how everything with the bees had unfolded. The fox thought of the powerlessness and the innocence of the small and meek bees. The things that were done to the bees are undeniable, but now he was on his last leg and the bees were not. The hive would continue to live and prosper long after he was gone.
It was a beautiful morning. Birds were chirping and swimming happily through the cool breeze running through the forest. Only an inkling of light had spilled into the horizon beyond, and the forest floor was still covered in a thin layer of dew left over by the chilly night before. The fox quickly stretched his legs and started at a trot towards the hive. On the way a small bushel of dew covered daisies caught his eye. He plucked a single daisy from the bunch with his jaws and made his way to the hive.
“Hello bees.” Fox said with a smile.
“Hi Fox! How are you, are you doing well?” The bees replied. They noticed that Fox was limping a little. His eyes were sallow, dark and sunken into their sockets.
“Hahaha. I’m feeling better than ever bees. I came because I wanted to give you something special.” The fox gently set the fresh, beautiful and dew covered daisy inside the log.
“This is a very rare and magical flower, there’s not another like it in the world. Not even the druid up in his high mountain could conjure this up.” the fox said softly.
The bees buzzed around the flower, and they could only make it out to be a daisy, though very fresh and beautiful. But in their small hearts they knew that fox was telling the truth. They looked at the ailing fox over once again and their hearts tightened with premonition.
“I’m going now bees… Goodbye.”
“Wait! Come here and take a little honey.” They yelled out in unison.
“No, no, no.” The fox said as he turned away. Then the fox yelped and jumped in pain. A couple bees had stung him in the romp. They fell limply to the ground.
“Come here fox. Take this small piece at least…. Please.”
The fox could only stare back dumbfounded and in awe at the little bees fluttering in the air.
“Come.” the bees said with finality.
He came to the hive and took the piece cordoned off. He turned and ran off into the green hills beyond. Not once did the fox dare to look back. The sun was rising in the sky overhead, and like a wave over the sea, it flooded the forest in its morning warmth. The fox kept running, and still he ran until he collapsed in an open clearing, exhausted and out of breath. He eyed the piece of comb given to him. A tear streamed down his eye as he nuzzled and ate a piece of the comb and honey. It was the most delicious thing that the fox had tasted in his life.