During the last few sunny days of October and early November through a bedroom roof light I watched the arrivals and departures, in numbers that would make those of any international airport pale to insignificance, of hundreds, if not thousands of wasps (those very useful creatures that almost all local authorities and or `Pest Controllers’, in their ignorance, will gladly come out and destroy) whose queen, some seven months earlier, had set up home under the tiles.

In that period she had, from a standing start, produced a colony that now probably amounted to the thousands whose humming could be heard from inside the room.

This activity was now directed at producing the queens who would overwinter and be ready to start the whole process again next spring. Meanwhile virtually all of the rest of the colony will be relentlessly gathering in the last of the pollen – mainly from the late flowering Ivy – to ensure that the cycle continues.

But now – early December – all those thousands of arrivals and departures have stopped and there is no sound from their nest because all those busy workers have died leaving their relatively enormous construction in place and thus providing me with added insulation in a part of my roof that is not accessible to me unless ceilings are torn down or roof tiles removed.

This cycle of producing and waxing and gathering and pollinating and scavenging and predating and finally waning has been going on for millions of years and my question is: Do the thousands of support staff know that they are doomed and carry on regardless to ensure the continuity of their kind and how different is their activity to ours.

Our cycle may be longer but surely the essence of it is the same.

We, and by this I mean the global we of humanity, spend our lives busying about in order to sustain ourselves and in the process have decided in some unthinking, or perhaps an unconscious and increasingly insidious way, that Mother nature is the problem and has to be constrained and in the process have, having become an aberration in terms of the natural process, removed ourselves in our minds, from that system.

We have been so successful in taming nature that now our numbers are swarming to such a level that the balance of the holistic synergy that has naturally evolved over millions of years has been severely disrupted and may well yet be our downfall, and no matter how busy we are at trying to resolve the issue our mind set is now such that we will only succeed in digging ourselves into a bigger hole which mother nature will fill in over us.


William Matley