The Waggle Dance
There was once a young honey bee called Nala who lived in the Land of the White Flower, ruled by the once great, but now very sad, Queen Empressa. The Queen looked over her empire and saw only the empty shell of its former majesty. What had become of her youthful exuberance she wondered, whilst observing her young attendant Nala going about her duties. “I too was once full of hopes and dreams”, she sighed.
Nala was indeed full of dreams and this was not appreciated by her dance teacher, Ms Rosa. Students of the Waggle Dance Academy came to learn the waggle dance to contribute to the hive’s important job of finding nectar to make honey, but Nala could never focus on only this task. She was forever being told to pay attention as she floated off into another day dream about the “Lost Garden”, even though everyone told her that it was just a myth.
Everyone that is, except Old Petal, but no-one took her seriously anymore.
She was once a senior teacher at the academy but had been dismissed by Ms Rosa for changing the waggle dance.
One day when Nala was helping at the Queen’s quarters, she overheard a conversation between the Queen and Ms Rosa.
“We simply don’t have enough honey stores to survive the winter”, said the Queen sadly. “And with the White Flower in decline I hold little hope for our survival”.
“We’ll double our efforts”, came the stern reply from Ms Rosa.
Nala’s heart began pounding so hard that she slipped away before someone might hear it. “I have to do something”, she thought, “but what?’
A crazy idea rose in her like a fever and she sped off for Old Petal’s place.
Arriving at her destination she paused at the door to compose herself.
“What took you so long?” came a voice from inside. Nala stood frozen to the spot.
“Come along now dear, we don’t have all day”, summoned the voice a second time.
Nala entered, and she was met with the kind eyes and warm smile of Old Petal, who looked her over from head to toe.
Nala began asking about the Lost Garden and Petal nodded knowingly, then fell into silence. Nala continued, but Petal interrupted saying, “You must quiet your mind my child if you are to hear the flowers.”
After a while, Old Petal spoke again. “So? Would you like me to teach you the waggle dance to the Lost Garden?”
“Then you can start learning by organising that bookshelf”. Petal waved a finger at a pile of books in the corner before disappearing into another room. This was to be the first in a long list of chores that seemed to grow longer by the day. One day, after what seemed like an eternity, Nala confronted Petal.
“You said you’d teach me the waggle dance and all I’ve learnt to do is chore after chore”, she wailed.
Petal turned slowly to face Nala, her expression calm. She knew it was time – the hard work had focused Nala’s thoughts. Fixing her gaze on Nala she began vibrating her wings and waggling her abdomen in a figure of eight. Slowly it dawned on Nala that Petal was performing a waggle dance, but unlike any she had ever seen before.
Nala’s vision became blurry and colourful shapes began to swirl around the room before coming sharply into focus in front of her. They were flowers of every kind bearing a message that passed from them through colour and smell. “Look within for the Garden”, they said. “The deeper you journey, the more flowers you will know.”
And with that they disappeared, leaving Nala looking into the eyes of Petal.
“There is no special waggle dance for the Lost Garden, is there?” Nala said.
Petal’s eyes seemed to sparkle. “There are as many waggle dances as there are flowers”, she smiled.
Nala, knowing their time together had come full circle, embraced Petal gratefully. Then she turned towards the door, took a deep breath, and flew away with a secretive smile.
She sped towards the royal court, her heart pounding ever harder the closer she got. In the court, the Queen was in council with her advisers and Ms Rosa. All had furrowed brows as they pondered what to do about the honey shortage. They were interrupted by a young bee entering the inner circle.
It was Nala.
She cleared her throat. “I have news of the Lost Garden”, she began. Hushed whispers began to circulate.
“It disappeared”, she continued, “when we began valuing one flower above all else. The Garden exists only in the hearts of those who still believe”.
Her words triggered a furore and the room fell into chaos. Above the clamour soared Ms Rosa’s voice.
“Pay no attention to this one”, she snarled. “She is day dreaming again!”
All eyes turned accusingly towards Nala. Their gaze felt like daggers and threatened to make her knees buckle. Her courage almost began to waver, but then from deep inside her came a familiar voice. “There are as many waggle dances as there are flowers“, it whispered.
Feeling the flower spirits all around her, Nala’s wings began to vibrate, a little at first and then with increasing intensity. They pulsed in a unique rhythm as her abdomen moved in a figure of eight, entrancing her audience.
Colours began to swirl around the room before coming sharply into focus before all those present. Everyone saw a different flower, each remembering a time in their childhood when colours and smells were always this vivid, and all remembered the Garden. As they remembered, each began to perform their unique kind of waggle dance until the entire hive was abuzz with excitement. Each bee knew with clarity where to find the flower that appeared before them, and in rapid succession they set off to find it. Before long, bees started returning, and the hive began to fill with nectar of every kind. Soon the hive was full.
A youthful looking Queen Empressa, with Nala walking beside her, observed the royal stores with much relief and satisfaction.
“We are indebted to you Nala for helping us all remember the Garden”, said the Queen. “It is vital that we preserve this knowledge for generations to come. Which reminds me…..” She paused for a moment looking thoughtful. “Don’t you have a class to go to?…………Ms Nala”. “Yes M’lady” replied Nala, as she curtsied and hurried off to the academy.
Arriving there, she was walking past the principal’s office on her way to class, when a question issued from within. “What took you so long?” said the voice.
Nala’s grin reached from ear to ear as she turned to meet the kind eyes and warm smile of Old Petal. They squeezed each other tightly before Petal, holding Nala by the shoulders, regarded her with a serious expression. “Come along now dear, we don’t have all day”, she said, winking as she led Nala off towards the classroom. “Time to meet your new students!”
One could detect a slight waggle in their step as the two walked off together.