When I was in 8th grade I made friends with an “elderly” lady (about my current age) who was our local town social extrovert. She did unusual things: like winning at pinball repeatedly, one nickel or dime after another. Conversations with her were always lots of fun. She got along with folks of every kind. Her name was Hilda and she had bright red hair. If I remember correctly, she had been married to the local judge but she was widowed and sometimes worked as a precinct judge and notary public.

She loved to come to the town cafe and sit and chat with those of us who came by for a soda or sandwich. And she was always playing pinball.

I couldn’t believe some of her conversations because she would always throw in some thoughts that were unconventional for midwestern Ohio small town life. One of those “unconventional” examples occurred when she introduced to me was a poem about bees.  She waited until I was at least a sophomore or junior to tell me about it.

I have many times wondered if I could ever find that poem again and I have looked for it on search engines previously. Early today and yesterday afternoon I noticed that he large bees in my front yard were doing a mating dance that bees do so well and I couldn’t help but keep thinking about her. So tonight I tried again to find the poem and VOILA…IT IS HERE. I am posting it for your full enjoyment: I was smiling to find out it was written by E B White. I worked on memorizing it when Hilda and I were hanging out together. Hilda had it committed to memory very well.


Common Eastern Bubmle Bee (Bombus impatiens) worker in flight TEXAS: Lamar Co. Camp Maxey National Guard Facility in Paris 27.August.2009 J.C. Abbott

Common Eastern Bumble Bee

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-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.

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;
And I’m here to state that I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.

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 a lad for me.

queen bee in flight

I’ve 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;
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 am a bee.

I am a bee and I simply love it,
I am a bee and I’m darn 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 that you find alone.
I’m a bee,
I’m free.

Honey bee caught in flight in the garden at La Quinetire, Buais, Normandy, France

Honey bee in flight in garden at La Quinetire, Buais, Normandy, France

If any old farmer can keep and hive me,
Then any old drone may catch and wife me;
I’m sorry for creatures who cannot pair
On a gorgeous day in the upper air,
I’m sorry for cows that have to boast
Of affairs they’ve had by parcel post,
I’m sorry for a 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 am a bee,
I’m devil-may-care and I’m fancy-free,
Love-in-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.

Here’s to you, Hilda!