Discover the adventures of Castle Park's bee Matilda

Matilda and the wasps

Honeycomb

The honeycomb
Copyright Simon O’Rourke 2023

One very warm, August afternoon, Queen Alexandra was eating royal jelly and laying eggs in her hive in her castle, whilst some of her best foraging bees were outside gathering pollen from the nearby foxgloves.

Matilda, a very young and inquisitive foraging bee, spotted some bright purple lavender over near the woods, a little distance away… ‘Ooh, that looks tasty’, she thought, and immediately started to head towards it.

‘Be careful young Matilda!’, shouted Carrie, one of the hive’s more experienced foragers. ‘Don’t forget there is a wasp’s nest in the hollow of the tree just above where the lavender is growing.’

Matilda waved back as if to say, ‘Yep, I know!’, and confidently continued to retrieve some nectar from the luscious dark purple lavender growing beneath the bows of the shady oak.

About halfway up the Oak tree in the hollow, just as Carrie had said, a couple of cranky, sugar deprived wasps were hanging out by their nest and spot-ted Matilda approaching…

‘What have we here?’, asked one of them to the other… ‘An easy target’… the other one replied. ‘You distract her, I’ll grab her, and then we’ll hold her to ransom until some of her mates from the hive give us a load of their honey!’…

Lavender

The lavender
Copyright Simon O’Rourke 2023

The wasps
Copyright Simon O’Rourke 2023

So, poor Matilda, as bold and as clever as she was, suddenly got distracted by Joe, one of the naughty wasps above making a very unusually loud buzzing sound and looked up.

‘What is that noise all about?!’, Matilda asked, quite annoyed to have been disturbed from collecting the delicious nectar from the lavender plant.

The other wasp, Freddy, had buzzed down around the back of the tree, and before Matilda had time to realise what was happening, Freddy had grabbed her furry little legs and clung on tight. ‘Gotcha!’, he shouted, and immediately took her up to the hollow where Joe was waiting and tied her up.

‘Help, help!’, Matilda shouted. ‘Please don’t hurt me!’

‘We won’t hurt you’, said Joe, ‘we just want some honey from your hive. We’ll send another couple of our worker wasps over to your hive in a bit to let them know the score and then we’ll wait for your mates to bring us some of your delicious honey!’

Whilst all this had been happening, and unbeknown to Matilda or the wasps, Sarah, one of the other foraging bees had secretly followed Matilda over to the lavender to keep an eye on her and had seen and heard everything that had gone on. Quick as a flash she whizzed back to the hive to report to Carrie and the Queen what had happened.

‘We need the help of the spiders’ the Queen declared. ‘We’ll pretend to play along and delay things if the other wasps do come over here with their demands’.

‘Yes, your majesty’, exclaimed Carrie, ‘Sarah and I will go and get help right away!’.

Quick as a flash, Carrie and Sarah flew over to the spiders who were building their webs in the small cluster of trees next to the oak, being very careful not to be seen.

‘Claude! Clara!’, Said Carrie, in a loud whisper, so as to not be heard by the wasps.

Claude and Clara both appeared from their webs to find out what was going on.

‘Carrie, Sarah, how nice to see you! But what on earth is happening?’

‘It’s Matilda!’, Sarah exclaimed, ‘She’s been tied up and taken captive by the naughty wasps next door and they are planning on keeping her until we give them some of our honey! I overheard them talking and reported back to our Queen and Carrie and now we’ve come to ask for your help to stop them and get Matilda back!’

‘Oh dear’, said Claude, ‘that’s not good, but not to worry, Clara and I can most certainly help, but we’re going to need the help of the ants and be very, very sneaky indeed. Carrie, how fast can you fly? I need you to go and tell the ants to find and retrieve me the end of an ice cream cone. That should entice the wasps out of their nest.’

‘Ok’, said Carrie, ‘then what?’…

‘Once we have the piece of cone, we’ll place it carefully in the centre of Clara’s web, it’s much bigger and stronger than mine. The naughty wasps won’t be able to resist the sugar in the waffle cone and ice cream! That’s when we’ll capture them and rescue Matilda’.

‘Great!’, said Sarah, ‘I’ll keep an eye out, Carrie, you go tell the ants!’

Within a flash, Carrie had gone to enlist the help of the ants. All everyone could do now was wait…

Meanwhile in the hollow on the edge of the wasps’ nest, Matilda told Joe and Freddy in no uncertain terms that her friends would be out looking for her and that her colony would definitely NOT be bringing them any of their hard worked for honey!

Soon enough, Carrie was back to the spiders’ webs with a good few strong worker ants and a nice sticky piece of ice cream cone… the plan was on!

The ants and Carrie and Claude worked quickly and quietly to get the cone to the edge of Clara’s web whilst Sarah kept a look out. Then they all hid out of sight. Clara then carefully placed the cone into the middle of her web and scurried off to the top corner to wait and see if their plan was going to work. Everyone held their breath…

Soon enough, the delicious sugary scent of the ice cream-soaked waffle cone, wafted under Freddy’s nose… ‘Mmmm…’, he said, ‘SUGAR!!’…

The ice cream
Copyright Simon O’Rourke 2023

The spiders
Copyright Simon O’Rourke 2023

Joe tried to resist, but he too was overcome by the smell, and soon enough they both found themselves drifting across from the safety of their nest in a kind of giddy haze…

Matilda watched on from the hollow in the tree where she was still tied up, wondering what on earth was going to happen next!

Joe and Freddy reached the ice cream cone that was bang smack in the middle of Clara’s web and landed on it, gobbling it all up as fast as they could.

‘Yum!’, exclaimed Freddy…

‘This is divine!’, said Joe, ‘I think I’ve died and gone to heaven!’ ‘I LOVE ice cream!’

They were so giddy with delight that they hadn’t noticed Carrie and Sarah buzz over to the hollow and rescue Matilda.

‘Thank you, Carrie! Thank you, Sarah!’, Matilda said. ‘I’m sorry I flew off on my own, I thought it would be ok, but the naughty wasps captured me. We didn’t give them any of our honey did we?! Queen Alexandra will be so cross!’

‘No, it’s ok’, said Carrie, ‘we came up with a plan with the Queen. No harm done this time. The Queen will just be pleased to have you back in the colony. Now let’s see what’s happening with those two naughty wasps!’

When they’d eaten all of the ice cream in the cone, Joe and Freddy fell back, tummies full, plop, right onto Clara’s sticky web! They were well and truly stuck!

‘Oh no!’, said Freddy. ‘We’re stuck!… and my tummy hurts!’…

‘We’ve been tricked!’, shouted Joe, who was also too full to move!

Clara came down from the top of her web whilst the others looked on. ‘Oh dear’, she said, ‘looks as if you’ve come a bit unstuck with your plan boys! Or should I say, stuck???’…

The wasps grumbled. The others giggled.

‘What shall we do with them do you think everyone?’, Clara asked. ‘Shall I give them to Claude for his supper?’

‘No, no! Please don’t!’, said Freddy, starting to wake up a bit. ‘We promise never to do anything like this again! Don’t we Joe?’…

Joe tried to sit up, but his wings were stuck to the web. ‘Ouch!’, Joe said, looking cross and confused.

‘PROMISE us you’ll never do anything like this again!’, Clara said. ‘If you promise us then I’ll set you free and we’ll talk no more of this.’

‘I promise’, said Joe, a little reluctantly, but he knew Clara and the others were serious and that he and Freddy were to be good from now on and get their sugar themselves and not try and steal from the bees!

‘OK then, I’ll set you free’.

Clara and Claude set the two naughty wasps free, and they returned to their nest, apologising to Matilda and the other bees, and the ants, and the spiders for all the trouble they’d caused that afternoon!

Matilda, Sarah and Carrie all returned to the hive and the Queen, and all their other friends, welcomed them back with open arms, and they had a banquet of nectar and honey!

Matilda slept very well that night and never went off foraging too far on her own ever again.

The End.

Story by Liz O’Rourke. Copyright 2023.
All rights reserved.

The web
Copyright Simon O’Rourke 2023