Part 1 :
“AAAAAAAA” Aarush’s parents rushed outside hearing his cry. It was already dusk and the sunlight was fading away fast. Aarush’s parents were having their evening tea in the living room while 9 years old Aarush was playing with his friends in the front yard. His cry was desperate that his parents thought the kids must have had a fight and that must have resulted in someone getting hurt. So they ran outside to find Aarush clutching his wrist with the other hand. He was in great agony while other kids were aimlessly running around. Ankita was crashed into Aarush’s dad as she was running while looking back. Dad caught hold of her before she fell and asked to the kids in general,
“Uncle… Aarush was bitten by a ghost!” Ankita said.
“Bitten by a Ghost??? What rubbish! Tell me what actually happened?” Dad stopped and asked Ankita. Mom had already reached Aarush, but was not telling her anything properly. He was only crying and screaming.
“Uncle we all were telling ghost stories. But we were all telling false stories. But I guess Aarush told the story of a true ghost.”
“Really?” Dad was now interested in her story. He could see that Aarush wasn’t hurt and he had calmed down considerably by him Mom. He also seemed to be telling the same story to her. By this time all the scattered kids had gathered around Dad and Ankita. Now Arhan also joined the conversation.
“Uncle, He told the story of a ghost that bites as it gets dark.”
“Yes Uncle, he raised his hand to show how the ghost flies and the ghost bit his hand.”
“Nonsense!” Dad said, but before he could continue, there was a humming sound near his ears.
Part 2 :
Dad automatically waved his hand upon hearing the humming noise and felt a piercing sting. As Dad started flapping his hand, Ankita and Arhan started shouting, “The ghost has bitten Uncle now!”
By this time Mom had taken Aarush inside home. As she switched on the powerful light in the front yard, Dad could see a swarm of honeybees. He realzied that he and Aarush we stung by honeybees. The kids could not see them as it was dark outside. Plus the honeybee had stung exactly when Aarush was telling the story of the biting ghost, making the kids think that he was bitten by the ghost.
“These are your biting ghosts” Dad pointed at the honeybees, “C’mon, lets get inside and treat Aarush.” Dad took Aarush’s friends inside the house. He added water to a pinch of sodabicarb and applied the paste to his and Aarush’s hand. He knew that most the insect stings are acidic in nature as they contain some sort of acid. The basic nature of sodabicarb neutralizes the acid. Both their hands stopped throbbing with pain after about 10 minutes. But the blister caused by the sting was still there. Watching that, Aarush said,
“This bee must have been a dangerous one.”
“Of course they are dangerous.”
“Then we must kill all the honeybees out there…” Ankita said.
“No no… Why should we kill them all?” Mom objected to the idea.
“Because otherwise they will bite us all.” Arhan said eyeing Aarush’s hand, “We should spray some insecticide on them.”
“That’s a great idea!” Aarush said.
“We should not kill bees like that. They never bite us on purpose.” Dad tried to explain to the kids, “The flies must have been going somewhere. One of them must have been frightened and bitten Aarush as his hand must have come in their way.”
“But we must at least kill that particular bee.” Aarush was still in a vengeful mood.
“We can’t kill that bee.” Dad said camly.
“But why???” Aarush was truly irritated now.
Part 3 :
“We can’t kill the honey bee that stung you, because she must have already been dead. A honey bee doesn’t survive after she stings.” Dad said.
The kids were staring at Dad open mouthed. Though they were planning to kill the bee animatedly, they were shocked to know that she must have already died. Nobody said anything for a couple of minutes, and then Arhaan said,
“Poor soul. She wasn’t that bad.”
“Really…” Ankita said.
“But I didn’t kill her.” Aarush said was a little disturbed, “Honestly Dad, I didn’t kill her. I had not even seen any bee.”
“I know dear.” Dead said.
“But how did she die?”
“Honey bee has to eject it’s sting and a small poison sack attached to it to sting us. She doesn’t grow another sting. So can’t survive.”
“That’s so sad Dad…” Aarush was really feeling sorry now. His hand also had stopped throbbing.
“But uncle, if the bee dies after stining us, why does it sting us?” Arhaan asked.
“She stings if she is hurt of scared.”
“But in either cases she should ideally run away, isn’t it?” Ankita asked.
“That is how we think. Who knows how a bee thinks…” Dad said.
“We should know how a bee thinks….” Aarush said, “But how is that possible? Because a bee will never come near us in the first place.”
“Not really…” Dad said, “There is an idea by which a honey bee will come close to us without stinging us.”
“Uncle tell us the idea.” Everybody started saying.
“I’m telling…” Dad said, “First you tell me, what does a honey bee like?”
“Honey!” All three kids shouted in unison. And then Ankita said,
“I understood how the bee will come to us!”
Part 4 :
Ankita said, “I know how to attract a honey bee.”
“How?” Arhan and Aarush turned to her in unison.
“It’s so easy.” Ankita said pompously, “We should buy a big honey jar, open the lid and keep it in the window.”
“Is that right Dad?”
“Nope!” Dad shook his head, “Honeybees are not lazy like us to go and buy a honey jar from a shop… They make their own honey. Where do you think they collect honey from?”
“From flowers!” All the kids shouted.
“Good. So if you plant flowering plants that will give a lot of honey, you will attract honeybees.”
“We should plant plants.” Ankita said.
“Sure thing.” Arhaan said, “ Our area has so little trees, And flowering ones are even less. Poor honeybees must have been flying long distances for even little honey.”
They would have continued their discussion about honeybees, but Ankita and Arhan’s Mom came to to get them as it was quite late. But the honeybees were still humming in Aarush’s mind even after they left. He wanted to know why honeybees sting us facing so much loss.
So he pestered Mom and Dad to go to the nursery to bring home plants and planters. He brought it home and planted a lot of small flowering bushes in his front yard. His Mom was sure that he will plant the flowers only for a few days and that she would have to take it up afterwards.
Her guess would have been true, had it not been for a small flower on the plant that Aarush was watering on the fourth day. That boosted his interest and he watered the plants for two more days.
This continued for a while, and one day he could see something hovering on a flower.
Part 5 :
Aarush went enthusiastically to see what was hovering over his flower. And indeed, there was a honeybee hovering on a flower in his garden. Aarush stopped some distance short of her, hid behind a chair and watched what she was doing. The honeybee circled around the flower for 4-5 times and then she gently landed on a petal. Then she walked a few steps and gently burried her snout in the center of the flower. She stayed there for a while. Aarush felt like having a closer look. So he got up, but just as he was taking a step towards her, she flew away. Aarush felt that she flew away on his account. He felt that that honeybee would never return. But she came back and sat on another flower of the same plant. Now Aarush realised that even though she looked like she was sitting idly, she must have been siphoning honey. He waited for the honeybee to return. She did return after some time, but alongwith her came 4 more of her friends.
Dear me! 5 honeybees??! Aarush hid in the house and kept watching the bees from inside the house. He got bored after a while and he went to play. But he was watching the plants every now and then and the honeybees were continuously coming to the flowers and taking home honey. They had not taken a bread even for a minute in the whole day.
Now Aarush really became quite curious about them. He decided that he would ask the honeybee about herself first thing in the morning.
He got up early and waited for the honeybee.
Part 6 :
Next day Aarush got up early and sat quietly close to the flowers. After a while the honeybee came with a humming sound and sat on the flower lost in her thoughts. She didn’t notice Aarush. She dipped her snout in the flower and sat still and quiet as if at praying time in school. Aarush scooted closed to the flower and gnetly said,
“Frrrrrrrrrrrr” the honeybee was so violantly startled that she spluttered a good amount of honey collected so far. She hurriedly opened her wings and was prepared to take flight when Aarush said,
“Don’t be scared. I am not here to catch you. I want to talk to you.”
She still didn’t close her wings, so Aarush said again,
“Dear Honeybee, I planted these plants so that you would get honey. Do you think I would catch you or hurt you after that?”
Honeybee gave it a thought and slowly closed her wings. Then Aarush said,
“Did you like honey from this flower?”
“Yes” Her voice also had a humming tone.
“Where are your friends?”
“They are a little late, but they will be here any moment.” She answered clearly in her humming voice.
“Is your home quite far?”
“It’s a bit far. Takes about 5 minutes to fly down.”
“Oh….” Aarush said, but he had no idea how much distance can be covered by flying for 5 minutes. But probably the honeybee realised it, because she pointed her foremost leg to a tree quite far away and sait,
“My house is on the top branch of that mango tree.”
“And where does your friend stay?”
“We all stay in the same house.”
“Really??? That must be so much fun!” Aarush clapped hands in excitement, “It means you could play and chat anytime as you wish.”
“We could, but we never have time to play.”
Aarush was puzzled knowing that the honey bee and friends stay in the same house but never have time to play. He said,
“What are you busy with? Do you have school all day long?”
“We don’t have school, but we have to collect honey all day…”
“What will we eat otherwise?”
“Do you only eat honey?”
“Nope! Honey and pollen grains…”
“How lucky.” Aarush said with obvious envy, “I only get a spoon of honey if I really beg for it and that too not everyday.”
“Do you also collect honey?” Honeybee asked.
“No. My mother buys it from the store.”
“Ohh…! So you are one of the people who steal our honey and eat it.”
“I don’t eat your honey!” Aarush said with an attitude, “I buy my own honey.”
“Really??” Now the Honeybee also was angry, “And where does the store get it from?”
“From the factory!”
“The Honey factory…” Aarush said, but there was no conviction in his voice. He was not sure if there really is a factory to make honey. The Honeybee folded her forelegs and stood on four hind legs. She said,
“There is no Honey factory. We are the ones who make all the honey in the world and humans only come and steal the readymade honey.”
“But you don’t really make money.” Now Aarush also got angry ,”Flowers make honey and you only collect it. And I am the one who has planted flowers.”
“Is it?? Then why don’t you try to eat the honey in your flowers? See how it tastes!”
Aarush looked at the flowers. How could he suck the honey out of it? He had no snout. But he couldn’t ask the honey bee to extract it for him after having argued with her for so long. But then he came up with an idea. He plucked a flower with a long stem, put the stem in mouth and tried to suck it like a straw. He wanted to try if he could extract honey that way.
Part 8 :
Aarush tried sucking honey by the stem of the flower and lo! He really could suck a tiny amount of honey. It was not even a drop. Aarush could only just feel the sweetness of it. He plucked one more flower to taste the honey. Now he realised that the honey was not at all like the one he bought from the market. It was quite tasteless. With a wrinkled nose he said,
“It seems someone has added water to the honey.”
“Now the honey bee started laughing and said,
“This is how the honey tastes directly from a flower. Nobody has added water to it.”
“Then how does it become thick honey?”
“We do it.”
“How can you convert it to thick honey?”
“We know how to do it.”
“Tell me then.”
“I can’t. It’s our secret.” the honey bee said.
“This makes no sense. I planted flowering plants so that you can get honey, I watered them every day, they are flowering, you are taking honey from those flowers and yet you aren’t ready to share your secret? This is cheating. I don’t want to talk to you.” Aarush got up from there.
“Don’t be angry.” the honey bee flew in front of him and said, “It really is our secret. But you stay here. I’ll ask the queen bee. If she permits, I’ll be able to tell you.”
“Will you be back quickly?”
“As quickly as I can.”
“Ok.” Aarush again sat down cross legged.
The honey bee flew towards the mango tree. She disappeared out of sight. 5 minutes passed by, 10 minutes passed by. Two butterflies and three birds visited the garden in that time. A lizard peeped and went away, but the honey bee didn’t return. Aarush thought that took the mickey out of him. He was about to get up when he saw something flying towards him from the mango tree. But whatever it was, had a weird shape. Aarush gaped at it.