I did it! I taught at my kids’ old school.  Before I started the teacher, Mrs Taylor, gave me a photo of my boy, Charlie, whom she must have taught about 17 years ago.  I was at one end of the room with a bit of working space around me where I arranged bee pictures, skep, nucleus box etc.  It was very hot so I hung up the bee suit rather then wearing it.

The kids, when they arrived, were seated round a scattering of tables, which is much better than dreary rows.  I had to wear a microphone as one of the girls, Emily, is deaf, but can hear perfectly well with her cochlear implants. I think the electrical stuff enables her to concentrate on the speaker and filter out some of the background noises.  I noticed that they had started doing geometry as there were a few diagrams on the board so I referred to them when talking about cells.  I passed round a piece of fresh natural comb and also a chuck of old brood comb for comparison.

I handed round the honey pot for them to take fingers full. It did the rounds several times and I was amused when the whole class had a ‘high’ from it.  I also handed round the jar with a few bees, which, unfortunately, had managed to smear themselves with honey so they weren’t looking their best.

I had a clutch of bee pictures I bought at the bee auction a few years ago and spoke about each one, answering questions as I went along.  I chose one of the girl volunteers to demonstrate the dancing of the bees which she did very well once I had explained.  The comb of honey from my top bar hive was sliced up into cubes by the teacher and so all the kids (and me) had a chunk. The teacher, wisely, got some paper towels to cope with the inevitable stickiness and regurgitated wax.

I did my poem on the worker bee (which I’ll put at the end) but the audience participation wasn’t as good as I had hoped.  By that time I had been on my feet for about 40 minutes, which was what I had been aiming for.  To round off, I asked if anybody had any questions. A forest of hands shot up!  It was another 20 minutes before they ran out of questions, some of which I hadn’t come across before, for example, where does the name ‘bee’ come from?

Anyway, here’s the poem. I try to get the audience, whenever I perform it, to join in the last word of each verse and to buzzzzz between verses.   For some reason the line spacing is very wide and I don’t know how to correct it.

Workers Rule or Workers’ Rule?

My consciousness comes to me.

Laboriously I chew my way,

While in the dark I cannot see

For I’m a bee and I must work.

Put out my tongue and ask for food;

A passing sister gives me some.

It’s spit and nectar – gosh it’s good!

‘Twill give me energy to work.

From my wax cell I climb right out

And have a shake, expand my wings;

Then clean my cradle – have no doubt,

For that’s a new-born bee’s first work.

I’m grey and furry at the start

My wings are even and complete.

Now contrast that when I depart

Worn out and draggled from my work.

My first three days I clean around

The area where I was born.

Early on, my Ma I found:

She just lays eggs while I must work.

She laid an egg in my old cell

As soon as I had cleaned it up

And lots of other ones as well

And that gives me a job of work.

In three short days the eggs will hatch

And hungry larvae let me know

That I must feed the nearest batch

‘Cos I’m a bee and that’s my work.

At twelve days old my job will change.

A crowd of us will make some wax

Which, with our mouthparts, we’ll arrange

To make new cells – precision work!

Throughout this time I’m quite aware

My Ma, the queen, is in the hive.

Her pheromones get everywhere,

Ensuring that we can but work.

I move towards the hive’s front door

And meet returning foragers,

Unloading them, so they get more:

They’re very busy at their work.

I take their nectar in my crop

And mix it with a bit of spit,

Evaporating drop by drop:

Making honey’s such sweet work.

My sisters bring in pollen too,

Which my job is to pack away.

It’s protein for the young bees who

Feed it to babies – that’s their work.

I’m older now and standing guard,

Investigating passers-by;

An easy job until it’s marred

By wasp or hornet – they’re hard work!

I’m three weeks old, a big girl now.

I watch a sister start to dance.

The scent and movement tell me how

To find some flowers – my next work.

My sister said they’re half a mile,

And keep my back turned to the sun,

So, if I get to find them, I’ll

Begin my latest type of work.

I find the flowers, suck their juice

Until my crop is very full.

Their pollen dusts me – it’s quite loose:

I’m doing pollination work!

I spent three weeks within a cell,

Another three within the hive;

Three weeks flying and I’m well

Becoming worn right out with work.

The day has come – I’m past my prime.

My wings are tattered: I can’t fly,

So from the hive I crawl in time

To save the undertakers work.

Chris Slade 23rd February 2010


About chrissladesbeeblog

I have been keeping bees since 1978 and currently have about a dozen hives. I am a member of the BBKA where for many years I represented Dorset at the Annual Delegates' Meeting. I am the co-author (with Dave MacFawn of of S. Carolina) of "Getting the Best from Your Bees" and am working on a book of my own poems : "Bee People".
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2 Responses to I’M A TEACHER!

  1. Emily Heath says:

    Sounds like you did a great job and had an impressive amount of props to show them! Where does the name ‘bee’ come from?

  2. From the top of my head I was able to tell them that it must be a very old word as it is very similar internationally: beinen in German, abielle in France, bea in Irish. Do you know any more?

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