Thursday, November 03, 2005

We’ve been watching the DVDs of the Jeeves and Wooster series, and have been especially amused by the antics of the Drones Club. (What better name could be given to a gathering of idle young gentlemen?) Of course, this has led me to speculate on what might actually go on among anthropomorphic drones:

(A room in a smart London hive. Beeves is tidying up. Flewster is reading his daily paper.)

I say, Beeves, did you hear the one about the drone who always wanted to ride on a Vespa? Well, he finally got hold of one, but then she stung him!

Most amusing sir.

(Flewster reads paper, looks startled.) Good Lord!


I say, Beeves, I just read here that Buzzy Apis-Hives got caught in a spider web last night. Rotten luck, that. Imagine, old Buzzy pinched by a spider.

Yes, sir. I believe it was an argiope, sir.

An argiope?

A large orb-weaving spider of the family Araneidae, sir.

You’ve heard the story, then?

Yes, sir. And as often seems to be the case when the gentlemen of the Drones Club are involved, there is some good news and some bad news, sir.

Good news? You mean that poor Buzzy hasn’t, as we say, snuffed it, then?

Fortunately not, sir. The predator in question – or should I say, predatrix, for she is, in fact, a female of considerable size – is not partial to comestibles of the hymenopteran sort, and has therefore has chosen to neither envenomate nor consume Mr. Apis-Hives.

Oh, jolly good, Beeves. Bit of a relief, that. But old Buzzy is a keen-eyed old ….whatever was he doing near an orb web, Beeves?

Well, sir, Mr. Apis-Hives, along with your friends Mr. Bombus and Mr. Colletes …

Bumbles and Plasters?

The same, sir. Having encountered some fallen fruit that was fermenting in the sun under a pear tree, the three gentlemen stopped for some liquid refreshment. So much liquid refreshment, in fact, that they most rashly began making wagers regarding the architectural prowess of the local arachnids.

You mean they bet Buzzy he couldn’t fly through the spider web, Beeves?

Precisely, sir.

So what’s the bad news, Beeves?

Well, sir, the lady is concerned that she has spent many hours constructing this web, upon which she, a poor widow, relies to make her living, only to have, as she most frankly put it, some thrips-brained waggle-dancing sperm on wings drunkenly puncturing it, and so although she says she does not intend to directly harm Mr. Apis-Hives, she has wrapped him tightly in silk and has informed his friends that she will release him only after she is presented with three flies.

But that’s blackmail.

Actually, a ransom, sir.

Of course. I knew that. But how are we supposed to catch flies, Beeves? Nasty little creatures … (snaps fingers) Of course! We can sting them!

If I may take the liberty of reminding you, sir, this is an activity which is not possible for those of our sex, sir.

Oh… damn and blast, Beeves… I always forget. No, of course not. We don’t have the necessary equipment.

However, sir, the ladies, whether of the royal or the working classes, are not similarly limited, sir.

(snaps fingers again) … I’ve got it! We’ll ask the girls to come along.

If I may be so bold, sir … This will not be an easy task. You may be aware that flies frequent places that a fastidious hymenopteran may find to be both distasteful and disreputable, sir.

I’m sure, Beeves. Difficult enough to get the girls to appreciate a good jape under the best of circumstances. Like the time we put the parasitic mites in Skeppy Mellifera’s sleeping cell …

Indeed, sir, his sisters were especially upset, especially since they had to destroy a large number of their larval siblings after that episode, sir.

Well, we’ll have to think this through … Perhaps we can invite the gynes out for a drop of mead, but tell them that we have to fly to a smart garden bar out in the country, and we can observe the wildlife along the way … And then we’ll suggest a little hunt. These queens-to-be are very competitive, you know. Ah, this is brilliant, Beeves, they’ll love it. The fresh air, the thrill of the chase, the random stinging …..

Begging your pardon, sir, but young gynes are, on the whole, a pampered lot where fly-hunting is concerned. How do you propose to lure them to a garbage dump? Or the remains of a deceased mammal? Or … well, delicacy forbids me, but you must certainly understand, sir.

Hmmm… I’ve got it! We’ll tell them it’s a hunting competition for charity, Beeves.

Most interesting, sir … I take it you are suggesting that appealing to their finer instincts will release their baser instincts as well, sir.

Precisely, Beeves. So all we have to do is get the girls to come along so that they can sting the flies, drop them off in the arg .. the arg .. the spider’s web, and cut old Buzzy loose, we’ll be all set.

Indeed, sir.

By Jove , Beeves .. it … just … might … work!

(With apologies to P.G. Wodehouse.)