A Bee’s Lament

As a thoroughly bee-phobic human, I assumed it would feel great to have wings and a stinger. Bees, to me, are tiny, cunning, swift, fearless and evil. Little did I know these small yellow and black monsters have their own very real nightmares – revealed yesterday in a study of parasite-influenced bee behavior. The mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder is unraveling, and the causes are a surprise both to bee experts and perhaps to the bees themselves.

My Queen,

I write to you with profound regret and a deepening sense of dread, having just reviewed a summary of the findings of some freshly published research. The horrifying tale told by these scientists carries just one silver lining – at last I can explain to you why I left the hive those many evenings to fly around like a crazed zombie, out of control, out of my mind and clearly possessed.

The reason? I was, in fact, clearly possessed.

Please Forgive Me. I'm a Victim Too!

I assure you that I took my duties quite seriously while I was under your thrall and with the other workers I tried to make our colony one that exemplified the best of traditional bee virtues – hard work, loyalty, unquestioning allegiance to authority, hostility towards outsiders, etc. These are the kind of values that would make any Iowa Republican proud, as long as they were able to overlook our clearly socialist/monarchist organizing structure.

When I first felt the urge to leave the hive at night during the time I should have been resting, I fought against the strange compulsion but alas – I was no match for it. It was as if I did not control my wings, my body, my own antennae. I wanted to spin in a circle, fly towards the light, and sit and buzz, totally buzzed on something inexplicable. I know you thought I was sipping something stronger than honey. But I left because I simply could not remain inside.

Today, words cannot describe my remorse. I know I abandoned you and all the others at a delicate time, and in doing so, put the hive at risk of total collapse.

But yesterday, while compulsively stinging the bejabbers out of some old, bald, shrieking humanoid, I noticed that he was reading an article from the San Jose Mercury News that explained so much of what I was going through, I wept with joy, relief and terror.

My abandonment of our community was the result of a parasitic takeover that made it impossible for me to resist. A tiny fly (yes, tiny even on bee-level) injected its eggs into my abdomen while I was busily serving you. These eggs altered my chemistry, inflamed my senses, dulled my judgment, and led me to wander off spasmodically at times when I should have been doing my job.

Knowing that I was helpless against this invasion may not ultimately change your opinion of me. I’m resigned to accept your scorn. But I hope you will understand someday that I did not actually intend to betray you, that I am a victim too, that I apologize to you with the utmost sincerity, and that I will soon pay the price for my actions when I die, and a dozen fly larvae crawl out of my neck. Ugh.

The old, bald, shrieking humanoid that I attacked today was truly a pathetic creature, but to avoid my paralyzing feelings of remorse and my gruesome fate, I would willingly trade places … even with him.

Your Loyal Servant
Worker #500309930002993B

I am trying to feel sympathetic towards bees. Theirs is not an easy life, and the perils are many. But still … they give me the creeps.

Would you trade places with an insect?

60 thoughts on “A Bee’s Lament”

  1. i have that. a beer sneaks into my system lays parasitic eggs and makes me drink another, swith form day time behavior to nocturnal pursuits and make me walk around in circles with any realization of what i am or am not doing.
    would i trade places with an insect? could i be guaranteed i would be able to switch back? heck im open for anything once or twice. bees, dragonflies, butterflies, grasshopper im not sure there would be that big a difference other than the scale and the multiple eyes you would have to get used to looking out of. maybe i would find true happiness with a little change of perspective. i would be like a worker bee in the military. i have heard of many people who loved the military life where you get up and do what you are told until you go to sleep at the end of the day. i never thought this was for me but after yesterdays discussion on education maybe being an insect is a better route. the mission is plain and the goals concrete. the sucess or failure would be obvious and could be measured in charts and graphs. my question is alwys , so what? i did or didn’t make the goal, what are the plus/minus aspects to this. being attacked by a parasitic fly is a shame but we have newt and mit and their parasitic wants sucking fees and increased appropriations out of the common purse are about as parasitic as it gets.
    hope the bees get out of their conundrum. i am a bee fan and have been concerned since this weird behavioral phenomena appeared a while back.


  2. Dale, It seems to me that you are well on your way to becoming the Spin Williams of Apis mellifera life. Think of the number of potential clients….It beats claiming that 5% in Iowa is a miracle and a mandate!


    1. I guess that there could be a Spin Williams bee who scouts out unusual new sources of nectar and pollen and then tells the other bees about these new sources. However, since Spin is inclined toward exageration and fabrication, it might be best for the bees if he doesn’t get involved with them. Of course, Spin probably would not have any trouble showing that 5% in Iowa is a miracle and a mandate. He could be MB’s new campaign manager


  3. Good morning to all. I am a trained Entomologist and find insects very interesting. I can understand your dislike of bees, Dale. I have noticed that most do not like insects and bees are probably one of the most feared insects. I know that as a lover of insects I am very much in the minority.

    While I like insects, I don’t want to be one. It would be nice to soar and fly like a dragon fly. The life of a diving beetle might be interesting with the abillity to explore the bottoms of ponds an then take to the air or crawl across the ground. I don’t think I would like to live in rotting flesh as is the case for some maggots. Most insects have rather short lives, but so do we compared to some trees that live much longer than we do. However, there would be a lot things I couldn’t do if I was an insect such as read books. Book worms may be able to occupy books, but I don’t think they can read them.


    1. I have mixed reactions to insects, but I love bees. Charming and incredibly useful creatures. I’ve never been stung–someone told me years ago that they’d rather not sting you if they can help it, so I stay still and calm until they move on and it always seems to work (I also don’t go barefoot outside–lots of people step on bees and get nailed). My gardener friend likes to pet bumblebees when they’re full and logy on pollen. There are silverfish in our bathroom, which my roommate and I call Cybermats; they’re strangely cute and don’t seem to hurt anything, so we leave them alone. Centipedes and spiders? Um, I’m working on it. Book worms: :-)))


  4. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Recently I’ve been listening to the audioversion of ATree Grows in Brooklyn (quite excellent) which has inspired me! There is a long section on headlice control achieved by Francie’s mother braiding tight braids and applying kerosene after Francie told her mother that she saw insects running between the braids of a classmate’s hair. My grandmother also confirmed to me that when she was a child this was what was done in 1900, only her mother SHAVED her head and applied kerosene!

    I would like to be an louse on Mrs. B’s head celebrating her lousy loss in Iowa! Without the kerosene, of course.


    1. Mrs B. is just about as difficult to get rid of as lice…they are pesky critters that while they do not spread disease are a real nuisance. And remarkably well adapted to their chosen environment (much like Mrs. B – well adapted to her niche of conservatism, though she also adds a certain amount of magical thinking to her tool kit of adaption and persistence). Darling Daughter has brought lice home more than once, and I have been tempted to shave her head – though I have found more humane ways to get rid of the pests. And frankly, they were easier to get rid of than Mrs. B.


  5. i like most insects. and i think bees get a bad wrap because a lot of things that sting are not bees. we practice catch and release of most critters that happen into our home. except for those asian lady beetles and any kind of tick. they get put in a little jar of rubbing alcohol (there is one on almost every windowsill). there is only two occasions that i release ticks – out in the pasture (where i should carry a little jar but don’t) and in the car when i’m going 60 mph.
    i think it’s a hard life for an insect – i’m happy where i am. don’t think being parasitized would be fun.
    OT – we’re off to Fleet Farm in Lino Lakes to spend gift certificate!!! kidding supplies R Us.
    Good Day to you All


      1. long underwear (top and bottom), warm gloves, snow shovel, clip on feeders, milk filters, small collars in purple, blue, chartreuse, and rose. looked for sterile supplies and syringes, etc. but too expensive. looked at hay manger but too expensive. looked at soap-curing shelving but too expensive. a beautiful day, nice, almost two-hour drive down and no traffic on the way back. thank you brother Dave.


  6. I was taking out the trash once and I saw this huge, purple-black oval under the garbage can and I retreated and yelled to my husband in a horrified voice “Chris, there is a huge cockroach by the garbage can!” Husband came up in his usual calm way and took a look and said “That is a grape half”. He was right. I don’t like insects except butterflies and wouldn’t want to trade places for the world.


  7. Mrs B has always had a severe problem with reality. She doesn’t see it, or sees it and somehow sees it upside down of how it is. Why should we be surprised she doesn’t get the reality of her own defeat?

    (In the voice of Sally Field): “They DON’T LIKE me! They DON’T LIKE me!”

    That would have been the appropriate response. Instead, we got classic Bachmannish hallucinations.

    Did you notice, in the days just before the caucuses Mrs B made it clear that God was on her side and that he was arranging for a “miracle” turnout by all those people who loved her. Now, after last night’s vote, we can expect Mrs. B to turn viciously on God and accuse him of jumping into the enemy camps, lured by great wealth.


    1. It’s interesting to observe situations in which God and miracles are invoked, and who it is who is doing the invoking. (That sentence seems grammatically incorrect, but I can’t fix it now.) It’s amusing when someone like MB desperately starts declaring that God sees things her way and that a miracle is right around the corner. It would really help if the media would quit putting her in front of the camera! I mean, enough already!


  8. Morning–
    I can tolerate bees and most bugs pretty well. Hate spiders but are they really “bugs”?
    I remember watching my dad swatting at pretty much any flying insect with his seed corn cap. And I have been known to do that as well. But bees, they usually go on their way once they figure out I’m not that interesting.
    There was the time I disturbed a ground nest of yellow jackets while avoiding a salesman and got stung 14 times. (At which point the salesman found me anyway. I think all the commotion, all the yelling and screaming and waving of arms gave me away.)
    Would I want to be a bug? Hmmm, like tim said, can I come back? Would be an interesting experience.

    Got pooped on by a chicken this morning while doing chores. Right on the jacket lapel. It stunk. I hope the rest of my day goes better.


    1. I disturbed a ground nest of yellow jackets this past summer, and their response was swift and merciless. Got one in my mouth while diving toward my ankle to swat at several clustered there. I couldn’t get a good count of how many stings there were, but it was a lot, including one inside my lower lip.

      Your day can only get better from here, Ben.


  9. Would I be a bee? nah, I don’t think so. I like winter (should we ever really get it) to be anything that has a physiology that precludes experiencing it.

    One of the things I like best about living someplace that gets a killing frost is that all those crawly things, useful and important though they may be, have to give it up and start over growing in the spring. The furthest south I have ever lived was Washington, DC, and the sight of a praying mantis walking up the sidewalk towards me that was big enough to push back had I had the audacity to step on it was enough for me.

    As for MB, I think it is just fine for her to blow through as much Conservative cash as she can muster and spend her time running around the country talking to the few, the proud, the faithful.
    As long as the hive can’t decide on a single queen, they won’t be making much honey.


      1. Ooh. The filing deadline for her congressional seat is May 5th. Is there anything we could do to keep her presidential campaign afloat another four months?


      2. My political savvy friends think MB will launch a run against Amy Klobuchar. IT would get her to a bigger hive and away from the 6th , but everybody else would have to spend a summer with large cans of RAID to protect the state from the infestation!


      3. I should like to think the lovely senator would squash MB like the pest she is. I think that MB should keep her powder dry and run against Al, that would be good fun.


  10. I understand that, as Clyde indicated last night with regarding to spelling, there are people who can not over come their fear of insects just as there are people who can not over come their lack of skill at spelling. I do hope that some day there will be a big increase in the number of people who know that it is best to minimize the use of insecticides that kill a lot of harmless insects along with the pests that are their targets.


  11. Mmmm, no thanks. I like standing upright on two legs and using my opposable thumbs. While some may argue this point, I like to believe I have a larger brain than most insects, and I’d prefer to keep that too. If I want to be an insect, I guess I can do like tim and start downing beer. Or Pinot Grigio. That’s good too.

    I’m not wild about bugs but they do a lot of good. They all have a role to play in the ecosystem and every role is important. The more we learn about the bees and the problems they’re facing, the more we can see that this is true. Every single species, even centipedes, have an important role to play. That doesn’t mean I don’t smash centipedes flat when I see them. FLAT, I tell you.


  12. I had to read through all the posts in order to glean WHICH pathetic GOPer was the subject of the bee story we were talking about, I once again felt really dumb when the name was given. You know, one of those “How could I miss that” moments? Then, the inevitable, “Of course it’s Shelly”, but only after her naming. As to insects, I’ve become obsessed with Kochroach infestation the last few months as well as with the Sons of Mitches.


  13. I wouldn’t mind being a bee in our back yard in September, when we’re juicing apples. I’d buzz around the juicer, sometimes almost get caught and squashed in the receptacle for the apples, but then eventually find the bowl of foam that gets skimmed off, and join my friends getting literally drunk in there… Blue skies, warm with a little cripness in the breeze… doesn’t get much better than that.


  14. Like others have said, if I can come back, I might try being a bug for awhile. Maybe a butterfly so I can flit around the pretty flowers and drink sweet nectar – though if I were a monarch, the trip south to Mexico might be a bit grueling, and not so sure about that whole “dying at the end of the trip” thing. But hey, if I can get to Mexico, do my thing there, and return to human form before I shuffle off the butterfly’s mortal coil, I’d give it a go.


  15. I’m with those who believe bees have a bum rap. My flower garden is deliberately designed to attract bees, as many different kinds as possible. While I’m not keen on wasps, I recognize how important they are in controlling other pest insects. Generally, I find insects a nuisance; who wants ants all over their picnic food? But they are such interesting creatures that I find them irresistible to study and watch. Dragon flies, in particular, are fascinating. Have you ever watched them decimate a swarm of mosquitos in no time flat? A sight to behold.


    1. I’ve seen dragonflies swarming at dusk in our back yard, and I’m with you about planting to attract the bees, and the butterflies.


  16. Greetings! A dragonfly would be cool, I think. They’re pretty, have wings, big eyes and interesting colors. Or perhaps the proverbial fly on the wall — observing the world.

    OT – got up a while ago from an overly long nap. Was just supposed to be a 30-45 minute nap, but when I woke up, I just felt chilled and like I just didn’t want to move or deal with anything. I woke up and had to think about and remember where I was and what time it was — that weird, sweet feeling of no worries. And I just did not want to move — at all. So I didn’t. I just laid there for another hour doing nothing. I’m not normally that indolent, but I’m feeling a vague depression moving in and am finding it harder to keep up the activities I need to do.

    I finally got around to reading the rest of yesterday’s posts and Clyde’s wonderful post. My son with autism is in Special Ed and while I’ve always appreciated the accommodations he gets, I find it’s an interesting balance of giving him enough challenge, but not overwhelming him or his capabilities. And yet, that’s true of all students in some ways it seems. With all the different approaches, theories and legislation related to education, it’s hard to know which way is best. Or even if there is a best way that fits all students.


    1. Joanne, I think that Clyde would agree that a more student-centered approach is what is needed. I don’t know how that would work for your son or for any particular situation. It would be a change from a teacher-centered approach where the teacher works from a predetermined program without much input from the students to a program where student input is important. It wouldn’t be drilling them in the so called basics so that they can pass the tests that are required to prove that the students are getting what is considered to be a good education as in the No Child Left Behind Program or the Race to the Top. That’s how I see it, but I’m not very highly informed about this and might be off the mark.


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