The beekeeping world has been rocked to its foundation by an amazing new exhibit at the Ideal Hive Show: Serge Pantalon has invented a hive without bees. “We’ve taken the “eek” out of beekeeping,” said Avril Fule, Animatrice Générale of the Institut Pantalon. “What’s left is “beeping” – yep, it’s “beeping” important, too: no bees,” Avril purred: “And it’s called the PHOOLE (Pantalon Hive Omni-Original Limited Edition).”
A prompt-card fluttered to the ground, proclaiming: “In early 2015, zeitgeist mentor, paradigm-shifter and philosopher Serge Pantalon saw a gap in the market.” Avril shuffled the card back into the deck and continued: “That was where art met evolution. Serge had spent years listening to beekeepers moaning on and on about this, that and the other: stings, swarms, varroa, unflattering bee-suits, anaphylactic shock. It was obvious that problem with beekeeping was the bees. So why not liberate the bees from the drudge of honey production and the beekeepers from the burden of looking after the bees? It’s the simple genius of subtractive intuition. Thinking outside the box. Literally. I mean, the box hasn’t been made that Serge can’t think outside of. He can even think without a box at all ! In fact, Serge is the sort of guy who unticks all sorts of boxes.”
Avril took a sip of water and gestured towards the standard PHOOLE, with its simple set of instructions (slightly smudged onto a single folded sheet of A4) which guides the owner of a new PHOOLE to achieve perfect plug ‘n’ play honey production. The technique is to buy a jar of your favourite honey and pump it into the printer. The printer then layers the honey into the cells and seals the honeycomb with wax. Then it uncaps the cells and spins out the honey, passing it through filters and ripening it for a few days, before putting it back in the jar. The whole process should take less than a week – and hey presto! A jar of your favourite honey – with nary a bee in sight!
Avril chimed: “Yes, It may be a little more expensive initially (it’s about the price of a small family car) and yes, it looks just like an empty beehive, but in fact it is packed with post-modern irony and Serge’s subtractive creativity.” A bystander muttered that it looked pretty much like an ordinary beehive. “Oh no,” Avril retorted: “Each PHOOLE has a numbered swing-tag verifying its authenticity, in a very real sense of the word. PHOOLEs are very collectable. Every family should have one.”
Jess Maidytup, On-Line Healing Technician for The Racing Post, enthused: “We’re now seeing honeybees liberated from millions of years of servitude as unpaid honey-toilers in the workhouse. Casting off their shackles, our worker-bee sisters and half-sisters are free to pursue more fulfilling careers as trainee bomb-detectors, stockbrokers or professional dancers.” She drew breath and continued: “Not since the Corby Trouser Press revolution in the 1960s liberated women from ironing the bottom two-thirds of trouser legs has such a wave of female creative energy been released from mundane tasks. Let’s face it, bees need hives like Top Gear needs Clarkson or a kingfisher needs a weasel.”
Describing himself as a recently-lapsed member of the general public, student Freddie Furstheim-Voda had just visited the PHOOLE stand and came away agog: “Cool. I’ve just been shown the prototype of the new PHONI (Pantalon Hive Original Network Installation). It’s a beehive which has been 3D-printed into the form and function of a mobile phone. No, yes. It’s awesome. A bit sticky with the external honey-tap option, though” (Editor’s note: honey-tap accessory does not come as standard). “So I’ve ordered a colour-matched shower-cap from PHONI accessory catalogue to wear when I’m, y’know, facetiming on the hand-held”.
At that stage a curious honeybee buzzed into the room pursued by a Health and Safety officer wearing a high-visibility jacket, flapping his arms and shouting: “Step away!” he barked. He continued: “A wild animal has entered the premises and I have reason to believe that it is venomous. I have no option but to put the whole of South Kensington into lock-down, including this here courtesy bar and first-aid area. Please evacuate the building,” as he took aim with his Taser.
« Et voilà » shrugged the great man himself.