Buzz along

Where is Lord Wakeham when he is needed? His Press Complaints Commission must uphold the rights of the unfairly vilified, the victims of prejudice and those demonised by the media. Never mind the Prime Minister's son, what about bees?

Where is Lord Wakeham when he is needed? His Press Complaints Commission must uphold the rights of the unfairly vilified, the victims of prejudice and those demonised by the media. Never mind the Prime Minister's son, what about bees?

Yes, indeed. For years now, the bee has been the subject of distortion and sensationalism. Swarms of "killer bees" have infested popular journalism, a phrase as unthinking and unjust as "bogus asylum seekers". For even longer, the bee has been tainted by its superficial similarity to that bad boy of the insect world, the wasp, a nasty little repeat offender that hardly justifies its standard classification as a "social insect".

Now, at last, via the Campaign Over Media Bias, the bee is fighting back. Last week came a report that bee stings can be used to treat arthritis. Today Oxford University scientists are urging people to keep red mason bees as pets. They are non-aggressive and even if they do sting, it is "a puny thing compared to a wasp or a honey bee", says Chris O'Toole, the bee-ologist. We hear it is giving the bee community a whole new buzz.

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