Bee-Man, or Adventures in Anthology Editing

Listening to “This American Life” this weekend, a repeat from 2001.

I catch the tail end of a segment on bad comic book superheroes, and in the description of a 1960’s character named Bee-Man, I hear a description of myself:


Ira Glass: If you were to explain to people the characteristics of a bad comic book superhero–?

Jonathan Morris: There are obviously a lot of ways you can screw up. One of the ways is to just overdo it and cram the elements of the character down the readers’ throats. One of the characters was Bee-Man and everything about him was bees. His full name was Barry E. Eames. He was attacked by mutant bees which were sent to earth by space alien bee people. And he himself became a mutant bee person who had bee powers, and lived in a hive, and ate honey, and stole gold because gold looked like honey. And he could sting you.

There was nothing bee-related this man refused to do. If you meet somebody at a bar, you start talking to him, and you realize, he only has one interest in life– that’s exactly what Bee-Man was. Everything would have gotten back to bees. You start talking about what you watched on television last. He’ll say, you know, I saw an interesting show on bees.

These days, I’m a little like Bee-Man.

Friends and family ask what I’m reading, and I’m hard-pressed to come up with a title that doesn’t have to do with bees. I’m reading everything I can about bees, scouring anthologies and single-author volumes of poetry for depictions of bees, haunting the insect section at the library. I’ve been watching bee documentaries and YouTube clips on bees and TED talks about bees.

Online? I’m checking out articles about honey, beekeeping, pesticides, herbicides, best gardening practices for pollinators. I took a break this afternoon and sat outside, reading The Little Book of Bees by Karl Weiss. I learned how to make nest boxes for native bees. (You can, too!)

Lest I turn out like Bee-Man, I shut the computer on the weekend and get outside in the garden. Sometimes, a bee visits, her impossibly fragile wings catching the sunlight. She is far less hurried and concerned than I am. She reminds me there is time, in spite of how urgent everything can feel, to enjoy the pure gift of a sunny autumn day.


Image: Dial B for Blog


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