The Death of the Bee

So craziest thing last night. I was sitting at home, minding my own business, playing around on my computer like the dork that I am. And slowly it penetrated my consciousness that there was a buzzing sound near me, rather loud, but I didn’t really pay attention until suddenly this humongous bumblebee flew onto the lamp right next to me.


(Mercury Rev : Chasing a Bee)

I wasn’t scared but I was a little disconcerted… I mean this bee was huge… And I couldn’t really remember whether bumblebees stung or not, and I couldn’t check wikipedia because the bee was right by my computer (turns out they can but probably won’t).

Since this big-ole’ bee was in a precarious position, I didn’t feel like I could safely whack it with anything, so I tried opening up a window and moving the whole lamp towards the open sky, but eventually the bee flew off and then kind of roamed around under my bed, buzzing loudly. Time for a new strategy. I closed the door, turned off the lights (to keep other bugs from coming in my open windows, hopefully), and went to the market.

While I stood in line at Giant (always at least a half-hour wait here in lovely Columbia Heights) with my can of Raid, I imagined to myself the possibility that I would not find the bee when I got back, and I would have to sleep with a can of bugspray next to my bed in case it woke me up during the night. An amusing image because when I was really little, like around three or so, I was scared of (allegedly) imaginary fly-like bugs in the ceiling, and my sister made me pretend bug spray to ward them off. I haven’t slept with bug spray since about 1980 but I was wondering if it would be the night. When I got back home, an hour or so later, I joked that the bee probably died of old age during the time it took me to stand in line.[1]


(Wilco : Muzzle of Bees (live))

So finally I strode back into my bedroom, boldly wielding a can of bee-and-wasp spray, flipping on the light and listening attentively in the hopes that the bee, if it hadn’t left, would buzz some more and reveal its location. And it did. After a couple minutes, I tracked it down, it was on a jacket that was lying on the floor.

And I got down close to the bee and looked at it carefully, not really wishing it any harm, and I realized that I didn’t really want to spray Raid all over my jacket. So I watched for a minute, and then it occurred to me, I think this bee is dying already. It was feebly flapping its wings, but seemed to lack the strength to fly. It crawled around a little bit, climbing up the slope of the folded fabric of my jacket, then stopping. After a few moments it seemed to give up on moving at all. And I was like, That bee is totally dead now.


(Helium : Honeycomb)

But I wasn’t sure, I mean, I have never sat and watched a bee die before, maybe it was just resting after all the confusion of being trapped in my bedroom for at least a few hours (and how did it get there? That’s what I wonder). I am no apiologist,[2] so I was still a bit cautious.

I went to the kitchen and got a small glass, came back to the bee, and gingerly approached. I quickly flipped the glass over top of the bee, and it didn’t flinch. It was dead, or else hibernating or something. I took the bee, the glass, and my jacket to the window and flicked the bee out. It dropped into the darkness.


(Laura Cantrell : Bees)

It was weird, mostly just ’cuz of the dying part. Bugs die all the time when they are trapped inside, but it seemed so odd that I stood there and watched it die of natural causes at the exact moment I was planning on trying to kill it. And I never try to kill anything (except the freakin’ mice) so that was even a stranger part of the whole thing. It’s like my own little “Death of the Moth”. Maybe it will be a poetic awakening… I dunno. I don’t have any deep ideas about the incident, but I’m glad I took some pictures.


1. Did you notice the foreshadowing?
2. I had to look this word up. At the time, I was thinking something more like, What am I, a… bee scientist….?