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Michael Conley

Internal Memo: The Ministry For Bees


It’s time we did something about the toxic relations

between the Ministry and its beekeepers.

The fault lies entirely with them,

with their God complexes and their big reassuring hands.

When we visit, they always pretend

to discover rips in our protective headgear

and they have rigged all the shared toilets

to emit a low buzz whenever we lift the lid.


We wasted several months of research

after they told us the solution to the decline in numbers

was to encourage the bees to fuck more.

When they asked us for a shipment

of fifty crates from abroad, but neglected to mention

that the crates would need air holes.

When we asked them what  we could possibly do

with fifty crates of dead bees, they suggested

selling it as stuffing for prison mattresses.

When we ordered a replacement shipment

they told us to make the air holes larger than the bees

and the bees escaped.


The question is why do we even need bees?

If it’s simply about pollination,

couldn’t we just manufacture thousands and thousands

of bespoke clockwork bees?

Give them little fuzzy undercarriages and cuter faces,

make them sing like the birds,

do away with the stingers altogether?

They could be wound up during the night by poor people.

The Ministry, of course, would have to be re-branded

and some of us, of course, re-deployed or promoted.

The beekeepers, with their excellent sense of humour,

would probably cope well in the salt mines.


Real bees would exist only in poetry.

Michael Conley is a teacher from Manchester. His work has been published in a variety of magazines including Rialto, Magma, Bare Fiction and Interpreter's House. He was shortlisted for the 2015 Melita Hume Prize. His first pamphlet, Aquarium, is published by Flarestack.

Public Service Announcement: The Ministry For Foreigners


Their literature is deliberately obtuse.

Their films have to be subtitled into our language.

Their music relies too heavily on drum machines.

Their national bird is funny-looking.

Their famous hospitality is fussy and irritating.

Their Olympic achievements are all in sports we don't care about.

Their women are either overzealously covered or insufficiently covered.

Their little gestures mean subtly different things to our little gestures.

Their idea of fashion consists of pastel colours and wearing backpacks using both straps.

Their lack of sentimentality when it comes to domestic animals borders on the sociopathic.

Their weather is different from ours and it makes them unpredictable.

Their children have snot encrusted nostrils and red rashes around their mouths.

Their religious rituals are absurd in a different way to our religious rituals.

Their atheists are neither smug enough nor loud enough.

Their public toilets are a disgrace.

Their public transport is too punctual.

Their refugees are indestructible.

Their military history swings between humiliating surrender and sickening brutality.

Their language is littered with ugly glottal stops and backwards syntax.

Their work ethic is either boisterously overdeveloped or non-existent.

Their cuisine is admittedly ok.

Their stereotypes of us are hilariously inaccurate.

Poor Doors
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
bedroom tax
Disrupt and Upset
bedroom tax
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
Disrupt and Upset

Militant Thistles

prickling the politics of "permanent austerity"

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