The Bee's Knees–Facts about Bee Swarms

by Joanna Campbell Slan
I couldn’t let my “bee encounter” buzz by without doing a wee bee research activity. Here’s what I learned:
  • The bees that are dying are domestic honeybees, commercially raised. The colonies are collapsing.
  • African bees are mating with wild honeybees, creating a more aggressive strain.
  • By looking at them, a bee expert can’t tell the difference between African bees and native wild bees.
  • A nest that’s bred with African bees might be docile one minute and aggressive the next.
  • Bees don’t move much or fly much when it’s rainy. Heat will stir them up.
  • African bees don’t like cold weather, so the problem is confined to the southern states.
  • The USDA has told licensed bee companies NOT to move wild nests because they might have African bees in them and that would pose a public safety hazard. Unfortunately these nests should be eradicated.
  • Bees rest from five to seven days after swarming.
  • The phrase “the bee’s knees” might have started with the phrase “the be-all and end-all,” but when it was repeated quickly, the new phrase was born. So it isn’t really about bees, but about “B’s.” It means “something fantastic.” 
  • But the first official appearance was in 1907, in a book called Mr. Goggles by Henry Collins Brown: “Bee-raising is a good side line for the farmer, especially since the swell restaurants have made a specialty of fried bees’ knees. Such a beesness!”
  • The Brits seem to write it thusly: bees’ knees.
  • And the phrase also became a fad during the Roaring Twenties, when people crowed about, “The bee’s knees!” This slang phrase deserves a revival, don’t you think?
That’s me, flying off to do my own thing.
Hmmm. I think I need to write a story about these bees. What do you think?
Oh, and if I have any of this wrong, please bee nice and let me bee correct.

How I Write Short Stories–Part I

I get a lot of questions about how I write short stories, so I thought I’d take you through my process, step-by-step. Just so you know, I don’t consider myself an expert. There are probably a million ways to approach a project like this. But perhaps walking through it with me will be interesting to some of you. I’m going to concentrate on how I write the Kiki Lowenstein Short Stories because I’d done so many of them.

Part I — What’s the point? Or what’s the theme? What’s my goal?

I like to have a purpose behind my stories. An idea or theme or goal. I think of this like the pole of a Maypole because it provides the structure for all that follows. I like to use holidays when writing the Kiki short stories. That works pretty well, because the holiday provides a natural launch date. Holidays give me an easy way to market my stories. And of course each holiday also has its own rituals, foods, celebratory activities, colors, and so on. These elements provide natural points of interest for the story.

I’ve decided that I want to write a story about St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve been noodling that idea around, and I’ve been wondering, “What makes people lucky?”

With that in mind, I googled, “What makes people lucky?” and found several fascinating articles:

http://www.rd.com/advice/how-to-get-lucky

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-miglani/making-your-own-luck_b_3988785.html

As you can see, Mr. Wiseman has identified four principles that define “lucky” people:


1. Taking advantage of chance opportunities.

2. Listening to hunches.

3. Expect good fortune.

4. Turn bad luck into good luck.

So now I have four new ideas that I can incorporate into my story. Any one of these or all of them might be useful.

I can move onto the next portion of my prep, creating conflict. To make a short story work, I need to create friction among my characters.

Any ideas on how I can do that?