Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Death of the drones

(This one's for me.)

Leslie and I are proud (but very temporary) guardians of a young honey bee hive. It sits in a cardboard box in our backyard. The last couple of days were dreary, but June finally awoke today. So did the bees. I sat a few feet away watching honey bees go, honey bees come, the colony streaming with life.

It's easy to romanticize life in the June sun. But then I saw something I had never seen before.

Drone in flight (photo by Waugsberg CC BY-SA 3.0) 
At first I saw just the one--an extraordinarily large honeybee with anime eyes, pulling itself up a clover flower, then once on top, pawing upwards towards the sun, then tumbling back to the ground.

Then I saw another, just a foot or so behind, also striving to reach the top of our overgrown ragtag "lawn"--it, too, toppled, but then started its way back up again.

Both bees, drones, were clearly dying. As I watched, I found several more, about a dozen in all, climbing up the lawn forest, reaching up towards the sun, then falling.

I knew they were dying, and I suspect they did, too.

But what else could they do, while their hearts still beat, but rise once more to the June sun?

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