One of the most important examples of North's work to appear on the market for some years, this watercolour is unusually large in scale and epitomizes his highly original technique and strong tendency to abstraction. It was exhibited at the Royal Watercolour Society in 1888 and dedicated to his friend Richard Jefferies, the wirter, on English Country Life who had recently died. The curious title refers to an unidentified episode in Jefferies' novel Bevis The Story of a Boy, London, 1882. The book records the adventures of Bevis who is described as having 'short golden curls' (op. citl II, p. 81), and his friend Mark, both aged about eight years old. Many of the adventures take place in the woods near Bevis' home. These woods and the river that runs through them become part of an imaginery world, known by the boys as 'New Formosa'. It is while the boys are playing truant in 'New Formasa' that they find a nest of bees in a hollow ash. This watercolour which shows Bevis in combat with a number of bees is possibly an imagined sequel, dreamt up by North, to follow that described by Jefferies as follows: 'They appeared to the the hive-bees, not wild bees, but a swarm that than wandered from the mainland.
How to tak the honey was not so easily settled, till they thought of making a powder-monkey, and so smoking them out, or rather stupefying them in the same way as the hives were taken at home with the brimstone match. By damping gunpowder and forming it into a cake it would burn slowly and send up dense fumes, which would answer the same as sulphur. Then they could chop a way into the honeycomb. Seeing a tomtit on a bough watching for a chance to take a bee if one alighted before he wnet in, they considered it a sign they were off the mainland of Africa, as this was the honey-bird