Category Archives: Scenes from Carding, Vermont

Song of the Queen Bee

SH-queen beeI just finished reading A Book of Bees by Sue Hubbell. (Highly recommended, by the way.) The book is a combination of beekeeping basics, the history of beekeeping, and sundry ruminations on the natural world.

And it’s well-written and researched to boot.

In other words, my kinda book.

Among the inclusions that Hubbell added to the basics of beekeeping is this poem published in 1945 by E.B. White (he of Charlotte’s Web fame). I had never read it before and it tickled my funny bone so I thought I would share it with you to celebrate the first day of summer.

By the way, you need to know that when the queen bee mates, she flies into the air pursued by the breeding drones from her hive and mates indiscriminately with every boy she can.

And as for the drones—well, let’s just say after meeting the queen, they buzz off to bee heaven with smiles on their little bee faces.

So without further ado, here’s the Song of the Queen Bee.


Song of the Queen Bee
by E. B. White

(“The Breeding of the bee,” says a United States Department of Agriculture bulletin on artificial insemination, “has always been handicapped by the fact that the queen mates in the air with whatever drone she encounters.”)

When the air is wine and the wind is free
And the morning sits on the lovely lea
And sunlight ripples on every tree,
Then love-in-the-air is the thing for me—
I’m a bee,
I’m a ravishing, rollicking, young queen bee,
That’s me

I wish to state that I think it’s great,
Oh, it’s simply rare in the upper air,
It’s the place to pair
With a bee.
Let old geneticists plot and plan,
They’re stuffy people, to a man;
Let gossips whisper behind their fan.
(Oh, she does?
Buzz, buzz, buzz!)

My nuptial flight is sheer delight;
I’m a giddy girl who likes to swirl,
To fly and soar
And fly some more,
I’m a bee.
And I wish to state that I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.

There’s a kind of a wild and glad elation
In the natural way of insemination;
Who thinks that love is a handicap
Is a fuddydud and a common sap,
For I am a queen and I am a bee,
I’m devil-may-care and I’m fancy free,
The test tube doesn’t appeal to me,
Not me,
I’m a bee.
And I’m here to state that I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.

Let mares and cows, by calculating,
Improve themselves with loveless mating,
Let groundlings breed in the modern fashion,
I’ll stick to the air and the grand old passion;
I may be small and I’m just a bee
But I won’t have Science improving me,
Not me,
I’m a bee.
On a day that’s fair with a wind that’s free,
Any old drone is the lad for me.

I have no flair for love moderne,
It’s far too studied, far too stern,
I’m just a bee—I’m wild, I’m free
That’s me

I can’t afford to be too choosy;
In every queen there’s a touch of floozy;
And it’s simply rare
In the upper air
And I wish to state
That I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.

Man is a fool for the latest movement,
He broods and broods on race improvement;
What boots it to improve a bee
If it means the end of ecstasy?
(He ought to be there
On a day that’s fair,
Oh, it’s simply rare
For a bee.)

Man’s so wise he is growing foolish,
Some of his schemes are downright ghoulish;
He owns a bomb that’ll end creation
And he wants to change the sex relation,
He thinks that love is a handicap,
He’s a fuddydud, he’s a simple sap;
Man is a meddler, man’s a boob,
He looks for love in the depths of a tube,
His restless mind is forever ranging,
He thinks he’s advancing as long as he’s changing,
He cracks the atom, he racks his skull,
Man is meddlesome, man is dull,
Man is busy instead of idle,
Man is alarmingly suicidal,
Me, I’m a bee.

I am a bee and I simple love it,
I am a bee and I’m darned glad of it,
I am a bee, I know about love:
You go upstairs, you go above,
You do not pause to dine or sup,
The sky won’t wait—it’s a long trip up;
You rise, you soar, you take the blue,
It’s you and me, kid, me and you,
It’s everything, it’s the nearest drone,
It’s never a thing you find alone.
I’m a bee,
I’m free.

If any old farmer can keep and hive me,
Then any old drone may catch and wive me;
I’m sorry for creatures who cannot pair
On a gorgeous day in the upper air,
I’m sorry for cows who have to boast
Of affairs they’ve had by parcel post,
I’m sorry for the man with his plots and guile,
His test-tube manner, his test-tube smile;
I’ll multiply and I’ll increase
As I always have—by mere caprice;
For I am a queen and I’m a bee,
I’m devil-may-care and I’m fancy free,
Love-in-the-air is the thing for me,
Oh, it’s simply rare
In the beautiful air,
And I wish to state
That I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.


I’m so glad you’ve stopped by to enjoy this rollick with E.B. White to celebrate the summer solstice. As always please share the  Carding Chronicle with your friends and be sure to subscribe to this website so that the next Chronicle can be delivered right to your inbox.

If you would like to get in touch, my email address is: Sonja@SonjaHakala.com.

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