Doctors, nurses and the flight of the bumblebee

6th July 2018 at 00:00
The discovery of a stricken insect prompted a large-scale rescue operation in the school playground, writes Jo Brighouse

The sky was a perfect blue and cloud-free. A brilliant sun shone down. God was in his heaven and all was right with the world of the playground.

Until it wasn’t.

“Miss, Miss – come quickly!” urged James, grabbing at my sleeve. “We think it’s dying.”

I followed his pointed finger down to the ground where a bumblebee was perambulating in ever decreasing circles, trying – and failing – to take off. A collection of small children were clustered around it.

“Can we save it?” asked Ashley anxiously.

“Maybe it just needs a rest,” I suggested. “I think the best thing to do is to leave it alone.”

Ashley weighed up this advice, glancing between me and the stricken bee, and made his decision. “I’m going to save it,” he decided.

Instantly, he had a team of willing helpers determined to do their bit for the ailing life form.

Emergency response

The rescue package included dandelions for nourishment, some dried grass to create a comfy bed, a stick (in case the bumblebee needed something to climb on) and a Mr Men plaster that Diego had helpfully pulled off his knee and donated to the bee as a pillow.

“I love caring for things,” said Oliver happily, as he wedged a huge leaf underneath the bee, nearly crushing it in the process.

“We need to feed it honey,” said William. “I’ve got some in my sandwiches. I’ll fetch it.”

I stopped him. “Bees don’t eat honey, William,” I told him. “They make it.” Instantly, there followed a lengthy debate about what the bee could eat. Isabelle donated the last segment of her orange and they all watched carefully to see if it showed any interest. When this didn’t work, they laid out other morsels including blades of grass, some petals and a half-eaten Haribo Jayden had found in his pocket.

I watched them carefully adding the finishing touches to the rehabilitation centre. They had provided the bee with every chance of pulling through.

Sadly, they had forgotten to factor in Darren, a large-footed Year 6 boy, who, veering off path from his game of tig, took an unwise step backwards and unwittingly brought the bee rescue to an abrupt end.

“Darren’s killed the bee,” wailed Chloe. For a moment they stood aghast until Ashley came up with an idea. “I know,” he said. “Let’s give it a funeral.”

It was a popular suggestion. Soon the larger part of Reception and key stage 1 were gathering up daisies, dandelions and anything vaguely resembling flowers to lay at the bee’s resting place. Siena and Evie from Year 2 even donated a pebble as the headstone.

With the funeral preparations finished, they were gathering round to admire their handiwork when the bumblebee (which was clearly no quitter) suddenly awoke from its flowery bed and took an unsteady dive to the right before rising, Phoenix-like, past the fence and into the bright blue above.

There was a collective gasp of amazement. “It’s alive!”, they shouted, racing after it. I headed towards the bench, where I’d left the bell, trying to get Rimsky-Korsakov out of my head. I didn’t want to be a buzzkill but it was time for maths. I rang the bell and, all passion spent, we headed inside.


Jo Brighouse is a pseudonym of a primary school teacher in the West Midlands. She tweets @jo_brighouse

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