Traditional Australian aboriginal story re-told by Andrew Wright
The flies and the bees lived in the same village.
The bees worked very hard in the spring and in the summer. In the winter the bees had a lot of food to eat.
The flies never worked. They didn’t work in the spring nor in the summer. In the winter they didn’t have any food.
‘Bees please give us some food.’ said the flies, in the winter.
The bees were very kind and gave the flies some food.
One summer the bees said, ‘Flies you must work. You must find food and you must keep it for the winter.
This winter we will not give you any food. We are going to leave the village and we are going to make a new village, only for bees.’
The flies didn’t work in the summer and they didn’t work in the autumn and when the winter came there was no food for them to eat. They were very hungry.
There are variations of this story all over the world. Save now and you will be safe in the winter. Joseph made the Egyptians save for seven years and to be ready for the seven years of famine.
If we saved now our world might not be destroyed in the future.
I feel slightly uncomfortable telling the story to children because it is a teaching story and I don’t think it is very engaging in itself.
For another version of this story see: The Ants and the Grasshopper.
I adapted this story from the version given in, Parker, K.L. (2001) Australian Legendary Tales. Wordsworth Editions Limited for the British Folklore Society.
This story was called, ‘Bunnyarl the Flies and Wurunnunnah the Bees’.
Katherine Langloh Parker lived in the outback of Australia and collected many stories during the nineteenth century. Her work was later acknowledged as being relevant and important by Wandjuk Marika, indigenous chairman of the Aboriginal Arts Board.