The Bee Boy’s Song

(notes by Philip Holberton)


First published in Puck of Pook’s Hill in association with “Dymchurch Flit” . Collected also in Songs from Books”, the Inclusive and Definitive Versions of Kipling’s verse, and in the Sussex and Burwash editions.

Notes on the Text

[Verse 2] Tell ‘em coming in and out/ Where the Fanners fan Bees station some workers at the entrance to a hive to ventilate it and control the temperature by beating their wings. See “The Mother Hive” in Actions and Reactions (p. 89 line 10):

Melissa …. fanned obediently at the regulation stroke – three hundred beats to the second.

In “The Vortex” (A Diversity of Creatures), in which a swarm of bees creates chaos in a crowded village, Kipling describes himself as ‘an apiarist of experience’ (p. 390 line 27). Charles Carrington (p. 407) confirms this, noting that ‘Rudyard had become an enthusiastic bee-keeper at Bateman’s’

Bees also figure in “Red Dog” in The Second Jungle Book.


©Philip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved