On Bees and Honeyed Greed


Close up, head-on shot of a furry bee. Macro. Black and white.

Colm crawled, dug his elbows into the sod. Field grass and flowers crumpled under his chest. A haze of cloying, orange pollen hung in the air. He resisted the urge to sneeze.

Before him, a furry bee bobbed over the grass. A sizable, rotund specimen, with an abdomen the size of a bushel basket. It hummed contentedly, oblivious to Colm. It stood on stubby, pollen-matted legs, wobbled drunkenly. Occasionally, it produced a hearty snort as it slurped up the sweet contents of a flower.

Colm pulled himself forward. He had a jam jar in one hand. Slowly, he approached the bee's fluffy posterior. Something, a mixture of honey and fragrant stickiness, covered it's belly. Pollen drifted from the creature's fur. Colm stifled a sneeze. The bee snorted, stepped forward. Colm followed.

The bee stopped. Colm positioned himself behind it. Barely a half foot separated his face from the pollen-heavy fur. His nostrils tingled. His eyes watered. A stinger, the size of a lancet, twitched, sheathed in the furry body. Colm tried not to look at it. Slowly, he slipped a small knife from his belt. Reaching forward with jar and knife, he began to scrape the sticky accretion of half-dried, golden goo from the insect's abdomen. 

The goo slid from Colm's knife into the jar. He gazed at the yellowy stuff, pondering. He'd eat well for a month. Sudenly, his nose iched, his eyes watered. He sneezed.

Colm's head jerked into the bee's gooey belly. It stuck there for a moment before he pulled away. The creature gave an indignant buzz, took to the air on clumsy, oval wings. Colm lay in the grass, face and hair covered in bee goo. He sneezed repeatedly, crawled to his knees. He could barely see. The heavenly-scented goo stung his eyes. A buzzing grew in the air.

Something sharp and strong dug into Colm's back. It lifted him by the back of his shirt. Something else took him by the seat of his pants. Through clouded eyes, he watched as the flowery ground dropped down, began to slide away beneath him. He was flying, suspended a meter over the grass.

The ride was rough, but short. Soon enough, Colm felt himself shoved by insectoid limbs through a much-too-small opening. Colm bumped is head. A droning sound filled his ears. He heard the rest of his shirt tear off. He hit the ground, which was slightly soft. It was wax.

"Fool."

The voice was throaty, male. Colm hurriedly pulled himself to his knees, rubbing the stinging goo from his eyes. He looked for the speaker.

A pale man stood over him. They were in a room composed of meter-wide orange hexagons. The place smelled strongly of sugar. Bees crawled everywhere, watching.

The man met Colm's gaze. His eyes were black and wet, like ink blots. He wore thr skins of bees. "Trying to milk my little princesses" he said.

The bees advanced on Colm, stingers twitching under heavy bodies. The pale man spoke. "In our kingdom, that's a crime."

Something thudded into Colm's back. The pain was sharp, then very dull. His vision clouded. Bees surrounded him, droning in rage.

That buzzing was the last Colm ever heard.

Bees

Bees are fluffy, keg-sized insects who live in colonies. They are ambulatory, and spend their days trundling through flowery fields and snorting up the contents of flowers, making inane humming noises as they do so.

Beehives resemble house-sized wads of wax supported by a spindly wooden trunk. Hives appear this way, as bees build them on trees. Most trees are too small to support a hive. Thus, bees live in very bent trees. Sometimes, bees will construct their hives in man-made structures. Old towers, the sort with ancient treasure beneath them, are their favored structure to build in.

Some beehives are governed by a nymph, who name themselves queen or king. These Otherworldly monarchs believe that the area surrounding their hive is a kingdom, and that their bees are all princesses. They do not appreciate human visitors.

Unlike their monarchs, bees are placid creatures. If one is kissed whilst having its head tapped gently, it will assume that the kisser is hungry, and will regurgitate a quantity of honey. Bee honey is delicious.

Bees are possessed of small wings, which allow them to fly clumsily to the elevated entrances of their hives. Bees return to their hives in order to regurgitate gathered nectar, and to spread news of what they've found on their travels.

Bee's communicate via a complexity of pheromones. One pheromone in particular, which smells of lilacs, is exuded by bees in order to mark their passage, and to denote items which belong to the hive,
This scent is enjoyed by humans, who call it Colomine, and desire it greatly.

Colomine

A popular scent which smells of lilacs and sexiness. It is a mild, enjoyable stimulant. It is also said to be an aphrodisiac. Due to its properties, colomine is very desirable on the Coast, where it is used as an oil in perfume. People make a business of gathering it.

Colomine is produced by bees, who carry it in a small sac in their abdomens and secrete it everywhere they go. Collecting colomine either involves the slaying of bees and/or a certain degree of trickery.

This trickery is enabled by bees' own behavior. Bees recognize anything that smells like colomine as belonging to their colony. If colomine is rubbed on an inanimate object, bees will assume it is of value to the hive, and carry it back home.

If a creature is heavily scented with colomine, bees will assume that they are another bee (this is troublesome for outdoor soirees.) If a creature smells of both colomine and soap (a popular carrier for the scent, in Alagore) bees will assume that they are an injured bee, as soap smells like their danger pheromone.

In either case, an individual so scented will be hauled back to the bees' colony. This is a popular method of infiltrating a colony hive, wherein colomine may be collected from bees as they rest.

Honey

Bee honey is the primary source of sugar in Coastal cuisine. It is collected by raiding beehives. These raids are undertaken seasonally, and are conducted by armored individuals (usually errants or other paid professionals) who combat the bees with smoke.

Hive raids usually result in minimal casualties (both bee and human.) However, the occasional, woeful party (usually amateurs) is entirely wiped out by bee stings. Most well-established beehives (those which have fended off many an unsuccessful raid) are filled with human corpses. Bees don't remove corpses, they just wall them into a hexagon segment and forget about them. As a result, large hives are especially desirable, as they present an opportunity for both honey-collecting and tomb-raiding.

Honeycomb, on the coastal market, fetches half a golden pound per kilo of comb.

Benton

Chief Producer of Typos at Incunabuli.com.

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