Friday, December 04, 2015

The New Bees and The Veteran

The new bees sat in the auditorium, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the trainer. They had been waiting for weeks for this combat course conducted by The Veteran. This is among a series of training seminars organised by The Queen for the orientation of new bees in the hive. The Veteran is an ex soldier bee and her reputation far precedes her. During the 2008 great bear attack, where an opportunistic bear tried to steal the golden honey in the hive, it is reported that she single handedly turned the tide of battle and defeated the bear. However, it was a victory with high cost. A full section of the hive is entirely destroyed when the vicious claws of the bear came pawing down. All the bees that fought with the bear perished to protect The Queen. All? Nay, all except for The Veteran. And she had lived not only to tell the tale of how she fought off the bear but also earn herself a new role to teach new bees how to fight off one. All the new bees are honoured to be in the presence of The Veteran.

When The Veteran stepped onto the stage, the whole crowd goes silent. Not a single buzz from any wings can be heard. The Veteran acknowledged everyone's presence, and proceeded to give her presentation on combat skills for new bees.

Great lengths of time is spent teaching the new bees her proprietary technique of fighting. She demonstrated the technique live on stage. First, she flew around the target 5 times clockwise, then 5 times anticlockwise ("To daze the enemy", she explained) before proceeding to sting the enemy 5 times at 5 different locations using a formula that she had derived from her vast combat experience. After the live demo, all the new bees practised in their battle groups and rehearsed the formula thoroughly. All the new bees were very excited to learn this technique and were eager to use it on any enemies that come near their hive. Woe be to the bears who dare steal our honey, they chanted! The Queen will be so proud of them!

In a little corner, a bee called The Skeptic wriggled in her seat. Something doesn't sound right. The Skeptic had heard rumors in the nursery from her nursing bee that any bee that uses her sting will die immediately. You can't even sting more than once, because you can't possibly die more than once! Puzzled by this, The Skeptic buzzed her wings to catch the attention of The Veteran. The whole auditorium quietened down and she asked her question.

Oh The Veteran was furious. Have you ever seen an angry bee? That's how furious she was. The Veteran went all sarcastic in her replies. "What do you know about fighting? You are not even born when I first killed the great bear of 2008 with my 5 sting technique!", she exclaimed. The crowd went crazy and started to buzz their wings in approval. The Veteran 'requested' that The Skeptic never ever fight for the Hive, for nobody will want to be in her battle group and fight beside her.

And thus it is to be so. The Skeptic, shamed in public by The Veteran, became a nurse to take care of the baby bees. The Skeptic was still mocked every now and then when her sisters flew past her, but she kept her buzz. "No point fluttering her wings over this", she thought. She kept to herself, and over time, she also came to love her job of nursing the baby bees.

The Hive went through a period of peace, until the summer of 2016. The peaceful idyllic hive life was disturbed by a strange smell in the air. It gets everyone agitated and short tempered without knowing why. Deep in all the hearts of the bees, they knew that their sisters were getting slaughtered outside. After instructing the other nursing bees on the emergency evacuation route with the baby bees, she went out to the section with the heaviest scent to take a look at what's causing the commotion. A huge black furry thing was tearing the hive and squashing her fellow sisters. It's so huge that she don't even know how many bee lengths it is! Is that what a bear looks like? She truly had no idea.

The Skeptic saw the soldier bees gathering in their battle groups and prepared to attack this intruder. Over to the side, a battle group commander shouted at her section over the cacophony of buzzing wings and the screams of the injured. She reminded them that they will hold steady and carry out the what they had been training their whole lives for. "5 times clockwise, 5 times anticlockwise to daze the enemy", they chanted. "5 stings in 5 locations", they repeated after their commander. "And all according to the formula!" And with that, the battle group went straight towards the intruder. 5 rounds they went clockwise, and 5 rounds they went clockwise, and then they prepared for the 5 stings in 5 locations.

The battle group commander mentally worked out the first location of the first sting and flew straight towards it. As she pulled out her sting to prepare for the second sting, her entire abdomen got torn off from her body. She died immediately, but not before releasing that strange smell that so agitated her fellow sisters. The Skeptic was horrified! One by one, all her soldier sisters fell dead after the first sting, exactly like what she asked The Veteran so many years ago. She looked around to see if The Veteran was leading the soldiers to coordinate the attack, but she couldn't find her in the scene at all.

It was with a sudden sadness and resignation that she realized the truth of the matter.

All around her, soldier bees were going round in circles around this furry intruder, but The Skeptic flew straight up. She flew up higher and higher and saw the carnage that this bear had caused. "It must be a bear, what else can it be?", she thought. She found three black spots that looked soft and vulnerable, located above a gaping hole where the intruder is pushing all the golden honey in. And she went straight in with her sting forward. A great unearthly roar shattered the air.

As her digestive tract gets torn off her torso and she fell to the ground, she saw that the bear had ran off with a huge swollen nose.  The Skeptic, of all the bees in the Hive, had saved the day. The only regret was that she didn't live to tell the tale. As she lay dying on the ground, the light from her compound eyes fading away, she wondered who will step up to become the next Veteran.

There will always be a new Veteran to teach new bees how to fight the next bears. But will there be a new Skeptic to ask and question?


Frugal Daddy said...


This is an thought provoking story.

Sometime, we just get too serious with ourselves. We are just a bee. Having say that, it is the little things in life and the magic moments created by using little things, that will pass down our story for generations.

I don't need to be remembered. I seek for a meaningful, peaceful and clear-conscious life.

SS said...

Hello LP,

Interesting story. It seems to have several connotations, but to each his own interpretation.

I am inclined to think that there will be another Veteran and another Skeptic. History seldom changes.

Createwealth8888 said...

There will be plenty of new bees for another Veteran who will just need to show them plenty of Honey. No audit is required. Just trust the story and the honey!

la papillion said...

Hi FD,

Knowing that you made a difference matters, because there's often where meaning is found :) In the process of making a difference, you might be remembered, but that's not the aim ya? I'm sure The Skeptic made a difference too, but she won't be remembered. She had a meaningful life :)

la papillion said...

Hi SS,

Haha, I'm only talking about the bees and the bears :) Any other thing is your own imagination. I also think there will be another vet and skeptic, because these are just roles that are filled by different people at different times.

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

I'm sure if there's a new Veteran, there'll be plenty of new skeptics too ;) Everyone is a actor in this stage!

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


In a rising tide, everyone is an "expert".

When the next serious bear market strikes, its like a forest fire to clear the land so new seedlings can grow to replace the fallen "giants".

Many don't stop to ask whether "veteran" means surviving 2008 or simply mean started their journeys after 2008 ;)

la papillion said...


That's a very important question to ask - who exactly is the veteran? :) In my story, nobody knows who the bear is also. That's what a prolonged period of peace does to people - they forgot how bad it can get, and everything is based on hearsay and past experience of the Veterans.

Rolf Suey said...

Hi LP,

This is so creative & well written. If ever, I write a book, I want to invite u to be my editor or even co-author? haha


Veterans cannot predict what kind of bears will come, and they certainly cannot be certain how to fight with them. The simple truth to be about Veteran is they are definitely more resilient when a bear crisis hit, because they are better prepared. Although they will be badly hit as well, but they will bounce back for sure, and faster!

I guess what makes them Veteran is first they know themselves so so well. In ur story, veteran bee does not even know him/herself WELL because she does not even know a bee cannot sting more than once!" This is a big problem!!!

Second, most Veterans tend NOT to be very surprised when "unexpected events beyond imagination take place!" This is because Veterans had seen many unexpected things happened in the lifetime. And they tend to prepare for the worst!

la papillion said...

Hi Rolf,

Thanks! Haha, you ask me, I sure okay :)

I've several endings for this, but I chose this one. One of the alternate endings is that the veteran turns out to be a wasp. That's my original intention, but I changed it midway while writing this. Both have their inherent meanings behind it, haha :)