Dear Dr. Boli: The honey I just bought at a local organic market claims on the label that it came from an “apiary” in Westmoreland County. I thought honey was made by bees rather than apes. What’s going on? —Sincerely, Dr. Carolina Thicket, Curator of Primates, Duck Hollow Museum of Natural History.
Dear Madam: Honey is indeed made by bees, as you were taught from infancy; and an apiary, as you correctly surmised, is an institution devoted to the cultivation of apes. Apes, and especially gibbons, have an instinctive aptitude for tending bees, and are frequently employed for that purpose. It is a happy arrangement for both species, as it is cheaper than employing human attendants for the purpose, and it gives the apes something to do. Dr. Boli is somewhat surprised that a scientist in your position would not be aware of these well-known facts, but he supposes that you are more accustomed to meeting apes after they have paid a visit to the taxidermist, which renders them entirely unfit for tending bees. The advantage of the stuffed ape for museum purposes, of course, is that it tends to be less sticky, the taxidermist having carefully cleaned off the honey before mounting the specimen.
The use of apes in the honey industry is only one of the many ways in which our animal friends are employed to the benefit of humanity. You should ask Dr. Boli about foxholes some day, or perhaps about catamarans.