In Aceh, the 2004 Tsunami epicentre, our Permaculture field school is located close to the jungle. Since the war stopped a few months ago we can now hear chainsaws buzzing away, cutting into the last forest where wild Asian elephants live. Somehow the army and the rebels have teamed up to illegally log the jungle. The chainsaws are supplied courtesy of the International NGO’s. Bastards!
I’ve just finished a class as part of our staff training. Several of the Achenese guys are sitting, smoking on the edge of the forest. I watch as a bee lands on one guy’s clipboard. SPLAT! He crushes it with a ruler. I tell him, “Hey Amed, you want to treat bees better than that mate. Have some respect. They are the pollinators and they give humans honey.” He laughs and crushes another bee sitting on his armrest. The arrogant little shit!
My hair on the back of my neck starts to stir. I get a feeling to be careful and I walk over to one of our large camping tents. A loud hum begins to come from the forest. I step into the tent and zip up the flyscreen. BZZZZZZZ! A massive black swarm of thousands of bees fly out of the forest and attack the guys.
Everyone of them is doing the bee dance, big time, hopping and slapping and trying to run simultaneously.
I’m not sure they are going to survive this but there’s nothing I can do but watch. These guys are running and swatting and screaming. It’s kind of funny in a macabre way. These guys needed a lesson and mother nature is giving them one.
An hour later we have the 5 guys stripped down at our base house covered in calamine lotion. Angry red bumps cover their faces and bodies. Eyes swollen shut, they look like fat Chinese babies. They sure got an ass-kicking for disrespecting the bee kingdom it seems.
The next day the boys are in an angry conference. They want to buy a few gallons of pesticide and go into the forest and poison all the bees as payback. I listen for a while and finally I’ve heard enough.
“We don’t use chemicals on our organic farm, understand?” I warn them in my stern voice. “Secondly you are the ones who made an enemy of the bees by crushing them and disrespecting that life form, understand?” One guy says” But Mr. Steve, they will return and sting us again and again. We are afraid!”
“The only thing you can do is go to the edge of the forest and make a sincere apology. Make sure you mean it and the bees will forgive you.” I tell them. They look skeptical at first until I remind them they killed the 2 bees initially and the other bees knew.
An hour later, I see the boys out on the forest perimeter apologizing to the bees and looking a bit sheepish. They return and go back to the classroom area. I see not one of them have their back to the jungle for the rest of the day. One eye is always watching, just in case…
We have no more problems with the bees. The bees certainly won that one. I silently thank the bees for teaching my team to respect nature and its power. No doubt, they are now bee-lievers!