The bee life
It’s like I’m suddenly standing in a sandstorm. I can’t see the blue sky, can’t hear the wind blow, nor can I feel the heat of the sun on my suit. I can only feel the stings, hear the buzzing of wings, see thousands of insects twirl around me. I try to focus, to stand still, to listen, to see.
The bees are angry, scared that I burn their house down, confused because I have taken the honeycomb out, protective for they are nothing without their queen. They buzz around my ear, searching for the right place to put their venom in me. One bee succeeds. She searched around my glove and found a weak spot. Carefully she is pushing her sting through the glove inside my wrist. She is very careful, knowing that she will die if she is not. Slowly she spins, turns around her sting, pulling bit by bit. Tardily the sting is getting out. Patience is what she has to be, getting the sting out a fraction too fast and she dies. I watch her work her way out of this. She is proud of herself stinging me, I deserved it. She gets out and flies away immediately. She would tell her fellow worker bees about her adventure if there was actually time to talk. There is not, there never will be.
One by one I take the boxes full of honey away from the hive until I get to the lowest box. The home of the bees, the queen and even the drones, for the time being that is. On top of this box is a royal grid. Sounds better than it is, actually it is more like the bars of a jail. They are made big enough for the worker bees to get through, so they can make honey in the upper boxes. This bee family did well, they have filled 4 boxes of honey, impressive. The royal grid keeps the queen and the drones in the lowest box. This is where the eggs are placed, the pollen are located and a little bit of honey can be found here, the queen has to eat as well of course.
I take out the combs to check for deceases, to see whether there are any eggs, any queen cells and hopefully I can even find the queen. Slowly I go through the combs. The bees are busy, walking fast over the comb, they prefer to walk up hill so I hold the comb diagonally. Suddenly I see one of the bees pushing others and she starts moving strangely. It looks like she is dancing, left, right, left. She moves fast, her hips are turning quick like she is dancing the tango. The other bees are looking at her, following her and as soon as she passed them with her dance they get out of the hive and fly away.
This little worker bee just showed me the direction of the best food in town. She informed me where she found good pollen, delicious pollen. It can’t be farther than four miles away. I’m not capable of understanding the directions she showed me. I can only understand her dancing. The angle she makes with the vertical axis is equal to the angle of the road relative to the sun. The distance is indicated by the speed with which she is dancing. The faster she dances, the closer is the food source. She is done, she did her job, now it’s up to all the worker bees to get the food, they fly away.
Then there she is, beautiful, tall. Gallantly she walks around, pushing her butt into a hole in the comb every now and then. The worker bees get out of her way when she passes, if not she just climbs over them. One of her wings is cut so that she is not flying away and the bees are less likely to swarm. Why swarm if you’re queen can’t fly? I find it cruel and feel pity. She also gets a spot on her back, a mark, to find her easily. I find it mutilation but maybe I should see it as make up, henna maybe, or a tattoo. I watch her walk, finding her way through the combs, searching for empty holes to put eggs in.
I can watch her for hours, imagining what she is thinking. She became a queen just because the worker bees chose her to be. They fed her more pollen than the other eggs. She came out, fought with and killed the other queens. She flew once, mated with drones she never met. When she came back she started laying eggs. A giant cut her wings off, marked her back with a colour she doesn’t even like. Ever since her life has been inside the hive, away from the sunlight, from the beautiful world out there. She is a prisoner in her own house just because others fed her when she was still an egg.