The Grumbling Hive

Whilst chatting with family the other evening we came across this poem from a book called The Fable of the Bees by Bernard Mandeville, from 1705. The poem, describing bees and their hive, is a fairly thinly veiled allegory for the society of his time.

But, some of the lines still remind me of some of the amazing characteristics of bees, and how under threat they are right now. I’m enjoying BBC’s Hive Alive right now, looking at bees and their societies.

The widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides on our farmland is increasingly linked to recent crashes in bee populations, and new research shows that these chemicals are affecting birds too. Could this be the return of Silent Spring? Bees today would be right to grumble about the way we’re treating them.


These lines from the poem were, because of their poignancy, some of my favourite:

Vast Numbers throng’d the fruitful Hive;

Yet those vast Numbers made ’em thrive;

Millions endeavouring to supply

Each other’s Lust and Vanity;

Whilst other Millions were employ’d,

To see their Handy-works destroy’d

  • Share