I have returned! Sorry to keep you waiting. Here is a short story about a tiny friend of mine. I hope you enjoy it!
This is a true story. Mostly.
Once Upon a Time…there was a very full queen bee. She had the potential to produce more worker bees to work in her hive, and also to deliver very few daughters. She would die soon after giving birth. Her female children fought to be the next queen. One lucky worker bee would be chosen to mate with the reining princess, and the competition was fierce. During this life cycle, the female champion and heir to the throne was named “Honey.”
You may not know this, but male bees are aggressive. They can be bullies, and can really damage each other when fighting for a cause. They are territorial and protective of family and friends, and brutal in a fight for the queen. Others try to fly under the radar and not make waves. They want to live peaceful lives away from confrontation. However; this cannot always come to pass. Bees who stray from the hive are found and punished. The male bees swarm around the “traitor,” and harm him in ways he doesn’t deserve.
There was a bee named “Harold,” and he was my friend. He was always getting into trouble, but not intentionally. He wasn’t interested in competition of any sort. He kept his head down, and tried to live unnoticed among honey suckle trees. He sometimes got so drunk guzzling the trumpet-like petals, holding them to his face and pouring them into his mouth. He hitched a ride home on my fingers. He was in no condition to fly home under the influence.
One day, I walked outside to witness a struggle for survival, as Harold found himself caught in a spider’s web. He was so afraid and spinning faster than I have seen a hummingbird’s wings. Around and around, trapping himself more completely in the web. I know, I should have let nature take its course, but I couldn’t bear to watch him suffer, so I disrupted a very angry spider’s dinner plans. Very gently, I separated Harold from the web, but the silk was still attached to the little fellow. With powers beyond my understanding, I was able to miraculously pull the web from Harold’s body without smushing him, and then he gratefully flew away from his imminent doom.
Bees don’t live very long, and Harold knew that he had few chances to complete his bucket list within his short life span. He wanted to see things, do things, and meet kindred spirits. Harold had always wondered what tubing down a river was like. I was tubing on the river one day, and he landed on my lips. I had my mouth closed, so he sat there for a minute, then flew off. Bees are my friends. They often protect me from wasps. Harold took risks that nearly landed him in an early grave. Along the way, he met a very nice butterfly named “Hilda.” Harold had fallen so in love with “Honey,” as all the male bees were chemically attracted to her. He knew he had little chance to win her heart, so Hilda gave him some dating tips. She whispered them, so I don’t know what advice she gave him, but unfortunately it did not go over so well. He joined the group of competitors fighting for the opportunity to expand the hive. Harold was not well received. The other bees beat him down so forcefully that his wings fell off and he tumbled to the ground. I ran outside to stop the fight, scooped Harold into my hand and took him into our laundry room, which has huge windows and lots of light. We had a view of the swarming bee bullies waiting for him outside. Eventually, after Harold had calmed his breathing, urinated on my hand, and accepted his fate, I understood that I couldn’t keep him inside forever. I brought him outside, away from the bees who meant him harm, and placed him with his honey suckles. He guzzled a whole trumpet of nectar, and died peacefully moments later, drunk on honey suckle juice.
I know this isn’t a happy ending, but it’s the circle of life. Harold taught me that we should all compare our life spans to the moments of a bee. Having much shorter lives give bees more reason to live in the now and to cherish every moment. We can learn from Harold. Enjoy life; love your family and your neighbors as yourself; do not take anything for granted. We don’t know how our lives will end or when. It is best to spend that time wisely.
Rest in peace, little buddy.