Maya the Bee and the Butterfly (8/17)

Her adventure with the spider gave Maya something to think about. She resolved to be more careful in the future and not to act so recklessly and hastily. Cassandra’s warnings to be cautious of the great dangers that threaten the Bees, she had to take seriously. And there were plenty of opportunities to discover, the world was such a big place. There was so much to do and see for a little Bee.

Especially in the evenings, when dusk fell and Maya was all alone, she thought about this. But the next morning, when the sun shone, she usually forgot everything she had worried about. Her desire for new experiences drove her back into the happy rush of life.

One day she met a very curious creature. It was angular but flat like a pancake. Its shell looked rather neat but whether it had wings, that was not entirely clear. The strange little creature sat completely still on the shady leaf of a raspberry bush with its eyes half closed, seemingly lost in meditation. The delicious scent of raspberries filled the air. Maya wanted to know what kind of animal it was. She flew to the nearby leaf and asked, “How are you?” The stranger did not answer.

“Well, how are you?” And Maya tapped his leaf. The flat object opened one eye, aimed it at Maya and said, “A Bee. The world is full of Bees,” and closed its eye again.

Maya de bij verhalen

“What a strange creature that is,” thought Maya, and she was determined to uncover the secret of the stranger. It piqued her curiosity more than ever! So she tried with honey. “I have plenty of honey,” she said. “May I offer you some?” The stranger opened one eye and looked at Maya pensively for a moment or two. “What will it say this time?” Maya wondered.

But this time there was no answer at all. The one eye just closed again and the stranger sat very still, tight on the leaf, so that you couldn’t see its legs. You could almost think that the creature had been flattened with a thumb. Of course, Maya realized that the stranger wanted to ignore her, but – you know how the little Bee is – she doesn’t like to be ignored or snapped at, especially if she hasn’t yet discovered what she wants to know.

“Whoever you are,” Maya called out, “I can tell you that insects have the habit of greeting each other, especially when one of them happens to be a Bee.” The insect sat still without moving and didn’t open its one eye. “It’s certainly sick,” Maya thought. “How awful to be sick on a beautiful day like this. That’s why it stays in the shade.” She flew to the leaf and sat next to the creature. “Are you not feeling well?” she asked, as kindly as possible.

On this, the funny creature began to move away. “Move” is the only word to use because it didn’t walk, run, fly, or hop really. It went on as if pushed by an invisible hand.

“It has no legs. That’s why it’s so angry,” thought Maya.

When it reached the stem of the leaf, it stopped for a moment, then continued and to Maya’s amazement, she saw that it had left a small brown droplet on the leaf.

“How strange,” she thought. But then she quickly put her hand in front of her nose and held it tightly. A huge stench came from the small brown droplet. Maya almost fainted. She flew away as fast as she could and sat on a raspberry, where she still held her nose closed and trembled with disgust and excitement.

“Why would you touch a stink bug?” someone above her called out and laughed.

“Don’t laugh!” Maya yelled.

Maya de bij en de vlinder

She looked up. A white butterfly had landed on a thin, swaying branch of the raspberry bush and slowly opened and closed its broad wings. It sat still and content in the sunshine. The butterfly had black corners on its wings and round black spots in the middle of each wing. Oh, how beautiful, how beautiful! Maya forgot her annoyance. And she was also happy to talk to the butterfly. She had never met one before, although she had seen many flying by.

“Oh,” she said, “you’re probably right to laugh. Was that a stink bug?”

“That’s what it was,” he replied, still smiling. “The kind of creature to stay away from. You’re probably still quite young?”

“Well,” Maya remarked, “I wouldn’t exactly say that. I’ve been through a lot. But that was the first specimen of that kind that I’ve ever encountered. Can you imagine doing something like the stink bug did?”

The butterfly laughed again.

“You know what it is,” he explained, “stink bugs like to keep to themselves. They’re not very popular, so they use the fragrant drop to draw attention to themselves. Without that drop, we would probably forget about their existence fairly quickly. It serves as a reminder. And they want to be remembered, anyway.”

Maya continued to talk to the butterfly: “Your wings are beautiful, really so gorgeous,” Maya said. “May I introduce myself? Maya, of the Bee people.”

The butterfly folded its wings together and it looked like only one wing standing straight up in the air. He made a slight bow.

“Fred,” he said casually.

Maya stared at the butterfly in amazement.

“Fly a little,” she asked.

“Shall I fly away?”

“Oh no. I just want to see your big white wings move in the blue sky. But never mind. I can wait until later. Where do you live?”

“Nowhere special. A fixed abode is too bothersome. Life only became really delightful when I turned into a butterfly. Before that, when I was a caterpillar, all I did was sit in the cabbage all day and eat and quarrel.”

“What do you mean exactly?” Maya asked, bewildered.

“Before, I was a caterpillar,” Fred explained.

“That could never have been possible!” Maya exclaimed.

“Well, well,” said Fred, pointing both his antennae straight at Maya, “everyone knows that a butterfly starts out as a caterpillar. Even humans know it.”

Maya was completely perplexed. Could something like that really happen?

“You really have to explain it more clearly,” she said. “I couldn’t just take what you said for granted. You can’t expect that from me.”

The butterfly sat down next to the little bee on the slim swaying branch of the raspberry bush, and they swayed together in the morning breeze. Meanwhile, he told her how he had started life as a caterpillar and then, one day, when he shed his last caterpillar skin, he emerged as a chrysalis.

“After a few weeks,” he continued, “I woke up from my dark sleep and broke through the shell of the chrysalis. I can’t tell you, Maya, what a feeling comes over you when you suddenly see the sun again after such a long time. I felt as if I was melting into a warm golden ocean, and I loved my life so much that my heart started pounding.”

“I understand, completely,” said Maya. “I felt that way too when I first left the everyday life of our Bee city and flew into the bright, fragrant world of blossoms.” The little Bee fell silent for a moment, thinking about her first flight. But then she wanted to know how the Butterfly’s large wings could grow in the small space of the chrysalis.

Fred explained it to her.

“The wings are completely folded up, just like the petals of a flower in the bud. When the weather is clear and warm, the flower has to open, it can’t help it, and the petals unfold. So my wings were first folded up and then unfolded. No one can resist the sunshine when it shines.”

“No, no one can resist the sunshine,” mused Maya, as she looked at the Butterfly sitting in the golden light of the morning, pure white against the blue sky.

“People often accuse us of being frivolous,” said Fred. “But we are truly happy – just that – simply happy. They wouldn’t believe how seriously I sometimes think about life.”

“Tell me what you think about.”

“Oh,” said Fred, “I think about the future. It’s very interesting to think about the future. But now I would like to fly. The meadows on the hills are full of yarrow and other beautiful flowers, everything is in bloom. I would like to be there, you know.”

Maya understood this very well, so they said goodbye and flew off in different directions. The white Butterfly swayed quietly as if driven by the gentle wind. And little Maya flew, with the buzz of the Bee around a flower. The sound we hear on beautiful days and that we always think of when we think of summer.