If you free a bee from a web, are you stealing from the spider?

Yesterday, I saw a bumble bee stuck in a spider’s web. If you free a bee from a web, are you stealing from the spider? I love bees and, more unusually, I also love spiders: you rather have to if you live on a narrowboat. The bee solved my dilemma by freeing itself, but it turns out I’m not alone if having faced this quandary. 

It’s philosophically interesting because, on a small scale,  it involves concepts of bravery, altruism, ownership, nature, intervention/interference, survival and I’m sure others as well. It also raises interesting questions about perspective and the description of actions: can you truthfully describe the very same action in positive or negative terms? Is there any “neutral” place to stand and decide between those descriptions, or do you have to be on Team Bee or Team Spider? 

 There are a couple of articles you might use as a stimulus. One, from the Guardian, is a rather beautiful miniature piece of descriptive writing. You might have your enquiry and then ask the children to go and find something outside in the natural world that they can write about in as much detail. Developing a capacity to appreciate the intricacies of nature is a real gift. Another is a discursive piece that explores arguments either way before firmly coming down on the bee side.

I hope you get to spend some time relaxing in nature over the summer, or whatever holiday is coming up for you. I think everyone in teaching deserves it! 

Best wishes,


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