The Little Fort


‘the little fort’ is inspired by the Japanese folk tale about how General Yogadayu won a battle against his brother-in-law with the help of bees. The story was found in ‘Ancient Tales and Folk-lore of Japan’, by Richard Gordon Smith [1918]. After saving a bee from a spider’s web, the bee returned in a dream and explained how to win the battle. After building a little fort and filling it with jars, some ten million bees arrived and hid in them. When the enemy was enticed, the bees escaped from the jars and the little fort, helping Yogadayu’s soldiers win the battle. At the end of the battle, Yogadayu mourned the death of the bees and built a temple where they were buried. 

Many thanks to Christine Shepherd for reading selected extracts from the beautiful book, ‘Song of Increase: Listening to the Wisdom of Honeybees for Kinder Beekeeping and a Better World’ by Jacqueline Freeman.

The book is written about bees and also from the perspective of bees. I chose to use this text as I wanted to portray both Yogadayu’s turmoil and the perspective of the bee. The story of Yogadayu parallels the world we live where bees increasingly suffer at the hands of human beings. ‘Song of Increase’ tells the other side of the story that is not addressed in ‘How Yogadayu won a battle’.