You probably know that the sweet pure natural honey which you like to lick or which you sometimes spread on your bread is produced by bees. In most part of Africa, these bees are wild in the sense that they are found mainly on their own in the bush, often in large cracks on the trunks of large trees. In other countries these bees are reared or cared for like any other domesticated animals and birds.
In those days of my childhood, honey did not form any part of our diet. It was not important to us anyway. Bread was not any thi9ng you would see in our village unless someone was returning home one leave from abroad. However, as most African medicines are mixed with honey, we all had a chance of tasting honey at one time or the other. We knew that honey is very sweet. Sometime too when our fathers were very pleased with themselves, they showed their pleasure by adding honey to their morning meals usually prepared from milled corn. We children would struggle to do washing up after such meals. This gave us a chance to taste the honey.
You can therefore imagine our delight when one day on our way from school Dara told us that he had accompanied his father one morning to the farm and had discovered a thick hive of bees. He had called his father’s attention to it and he had learnt some useful things from his father. His father had said that there was no doubt that bees sting hard and long if disturbed. The stings are painful and poisonous. Yet people had always collected honeycomb from the hives without being stung. On further questioning his father has told him how to collect the honeycomb and this is it.
You go very quietly near the bee hive, hold a green leave in your mouth and murmur certain magic words. Hold a long stick at which a large quantity of tinder is set ablaze. Set the burning tinder on the hive. The hives are disturbed, some are burn to death and the other fly about to attack any one around. But bees only sting you if you move any part of your body. If you remain rigid they settle on you but do not sting.
In the confusion you carefully stretch out your hand little by little and remove the honeycomb into the bag hanging round your neck. If you lick the honey at the spot and in their presence the bees also attack you.
We were all excited by this account and there and then we decided to go that even to collect the honeycomb. We also agreed not breathe a word to our mothers or sisters for they would be frightened, let the cat out of the bag and let our fathers to stop us. We were to pretend that we were returning to school for some work on the school farm.
Next Script: Jungle Boy and the Bees [script 2]
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