Lofty and Zed
Once upon a time a long way away on a granite hillside lived a big old tree called Lofty. On the hills all around him were huge boulders, split by the weather and lying any-old-how. Because the ground was stony, Lofty had learned to put his roots down as far as he could.
Right at the bottom of the hill, a little creek swished its way over rocks and stones on its way to the big river. Lofty could see the creek and hear the running water. He could also hear the buzz of the native bees that lived beside the creek. These bees lived in a hive called Zed which they had built very carefully in between rock crevices and fallen logs.
There were hundreds and hundreds of native bees in Zed. They were very small and happy and liked living close to the creek. The Queen bee was called Bonny, and she had many workers, including Flora, Chaz and Amy. They went out every day in summer to the flowers to collect pollen for the bee babies and nectar for their own dinners.
The drones Tich and Boomer also had work to do. They had to make sure that no beetles got inside Zed. Bigwig, the guard, patrolled up and down outside the hive because the beetles would try to sneak in for the honey. So everyone had a job to do, and Zed was very happy.
When the summer days began getting shorter and shorter, the autumn winds began to blow. One night there was a terrible storm. The rain fell in buckets, and the wind howled and growled around the hillside. There was so much rain that the little creek flooded. The water rose up and rose up until it became a roaring torrent. Lofty could not see the little creek anymore, but he could hear it.
This was not an ordinary storm. The wind became stronger. The rain became heavier. The clouds became blacker and began to twist and turn. This was the worst storm ever to hit the granite hillside and Lofty was unable to hold on in the stony ground. With a crash and a bang, he fell and rolled down the slope.
Bigwig was the first to sense danger. He saw the hive begin to move, and when he buzzed up into the strong wind, he knew that Zed was about to be broken into pieces by the surge of water.
‘Mayday, mayday,’ he buzzed as loud as he could. ‘Wake up, wake up everyone. All of you must get out of Zed as quickly as you can’.
Then Queen Bonny, Flora, Chas and Snug picked up all the babies and flew with them to a huge split boulder up on the hillside. In the meantime, because Tich and Boomer were big and heavy, before you could say “Jackaroo” they were being tumbled and rumbled away in the roaring waters. Fortunately, they each managed to grab hold of a piece of Zed as he was bumped and banged along in the torrent.
What a disaster! Lofty, the biggest tree on the hill, had fallen to the ground. Zed, the best beehive had been broken into pieces. But because Bigwig had buzzed quickly about the danger, all the native bees were safe. Bigwig knew that Boomer and Tich could swim and that they would fly back to the granite hillside as soon as they could.
In the morning, the storm had blown away. The roaring torrent was once more a little creek swishing its way to the big river. Then Sun peeped over the hillside, and all the flowers opened up, shook themselves and began to chatter to one another.
Sun saw Lofty lying on the ground. Although his roots had been deep in the ground, the wind had won the battle overnight. He had lost most of his branches and all his leaves and had a big hole in his side. Sun also saw that the native bees had been saved and were gathered around Queen Bonny on the huge split boulder up on the hillside. Just then he heard Lofty speak to the Queen.
‘If it would suit your majesty, you can build a new Zed in the hole in my side’.
In no time at all Flora, Chas and Snug began to prepare a new better and stronger Zed inside Lofty. Tich and Boomer buzzed up with the parts of Zed they had used to save themselves, and these bits and pieces became the base for their new home. The rest of the hive followed Bigwig to the fields of flowers and soon came back with loads of nectar and pollen.
The very next day everyone was up to watch Queen Bonny thank Bigwig for saving them.
‘Bigwig,’ said the Queen, ‘from now on, you will be known as Mr Bigwig.’
‘Thank you, your majesty,’ said Mr Bigwig bowing low. Then all the bees clapped their wings together so hard and so noisily that Mr Bigwig blushed.