Saturday, December 27, 2008

Osmia vapularis

The aromatic adhesive paste made from the pulped flowers (but not the fruit) of the Ribbonleaf bramble (R. lemniscatus) is a surefire means of trapping, through olfactory deception, the Occidental umber-belted mason bee (O. vapularis). When stuck fast by this goo to a bundle of the plant’s thorny twigs, such insects can add a distinct flavor to corporal punishment. As Occidental umber-belteds possess reusable stingers, a flagellant may enjoy their fury (if properly administered) for a good number of lashes at a time.

Records of this practice date from the mid-18th Century in England, where Sir Hilary Trudicombe — amateur beekeeper, botanist and founder of the Garden Rakes’ Club — introduced it to his infamous “greenhouse of vices.” Further accounts, spanning into this century, reveal its continued popularity among libertines — that is, whenever both plant and bee were available. Its final mention of note as a contemporary pursuit was surely funk legend Rick James’s hit 1981 single “Super Freak,” which contains the lines: “Three's not a crowd to her, she says / ‘Room 714, I'll be waiting’ / When I get there she's got insects, slime and brambles / And vents her weekly spleen.” This prominent reference was already dated when the record hit the shelves on July 25th — two weeks after the passage of the Groydille Act, which ensured not only the illegality of Mason bee-birching, but also the near-impossibility of acquiring its paraphernalia in sufficient amounts.

From: Flann Br├╝thargalong, Hive Culture. Dublin: Clarennington Press, 1993: p. 144.