His withered shoulders hunched over the table, the beekeeper carefully slices open the plain brown package with his pocket knife.
From out the tiny wood and mesh cage, sticky with cane sugar and honey, they all fly, buzzing Up! Up! Up! into the air in hovering spirals. We jump back thinking that these suddenly unleashed bees would dash about the room, stingers prone for suicidal attack. We were certain that they would be angry for being [boxed up in that box without light] for so long, not knowing what was happening, travelling by post to some unknown destination.
The beekeeper remains calm. No panic. He does not even seem concerned that his precious cargo might escape out of the chaos and uncertainty of that Pandora’s box into thin air and out the door or through some crack in the wall. Yet unbelievably, all the honey bees fly directly onto the invisible window pane; there they dance in circles toward the light as the sun rays filter softly through the green pines and brush beneath the glow of the Monte Bianco mountain top in mid-afternoon.
“Always toward the sun,” he smirks to himself, as if guarding a hidden secret. “Always toward the sun,” he repeats without reason.
It is there—through the invisible barrier that they attempt to make their escape—they who would only think of escape after they had danced their dance for their Queen after providing sustenance for her on the long voyage to an unknown destination—they who danced for her because she provides for all life, for it is she whose royal jelly provides sustenance for all…
Not knowing what is in store for them, the bees outside in the hive dance a dance that links the sky and the earth, a dance that points the way to the flower from the hive in precise geometrical correlation with the distance to the sun… a cosmic calculus… incomprehensible to human sensation… an innate extra sensory perception that has evolved through the eons and that was predetermined at the time of the birth of these extraordinary creatures… a dance in poetic metric of iambic rhythms… a dance that skates in the shape of figure eights, from the Alpha and the O…
The bees inside the beekeeper’s home ramble up and down the invisible window pane; they too do not know what is in store for them. It is the new queen herself and her six attendants, her six guardians who had fed and protected her like human body guards with their white earphones plugged into radio waves that only these strange creatures can hear from afar, the guard de corps of that miraculous Queen…
A new queen was desperately needed to replace the old queen of the colony who had so unexpectedly and inexplicably become infertile before slowly dying. Without their queen, the worker bees had become angry, agitated, aggressive. They began to lay eggs that were not fertilized, while the whole colony had begun to feud among themselves. Cadavers of bees had begun to pile up on the bottom of hive like a thick layer of silt. With the lazy drones doing nothing to help, many of the workers had already begun to swarm to a new location in the hope that a new Queen could be enthroned…
“Really, they act no differently than a human society in the midst of a social revolution,” the beekeeper quips, with distressed look upon his face.
Suddenly he lifts his eyes and stares menacingly with the thick bags under his eyes growing even darker. He looks up and down as if a massive storm might be sweeping over the valley without warning. It is as if he feared that something might destroy all his work, all his passion, all that he had constructed, all of his livelihood. He then picks up a putty knife and runs to the window—as if he himself might smash through the invisible barrier.
He stares into what appears to be a kaleidoscope. At first, he hesitates, but after carefully examining each creature, he proceeds to squash those six companions, those six attendants, one by one, making certain that he does not harm the Queen. Their yellow body armor snaps as their guts splatter onto the invisible barrier. He then tosses their armored shells into the waste paper basket— as if flipping pancakes with a spatula.
These were the brave attendants placed there to feed and protect the new Queen. The beekeeper affirms that she could not survive the long voyage [boxed up in that box without the rays of sun] without them.
Yet, if they had truly done their duty, as so demanded, why must these courageous creatures be sacrificed, so grotesquely executed???
“If not, the drones of the new hive will attack them all—the new Queen as well— as she would not be accepted by the rest of the colony,” the beekeeper swears resolutely, on his honor, after swiftly downing a cup of caffè corretto, doused with moonshine grappa.
Never really answering the question, he stops, turns, and then picks the much larger Queen up from the windowpane by the back wings, leaving the guts of the smashed carcasses of the attendants glued to the stained windowpane as if they were the bodies scattered on the roadside of a traffic accident.
Once again staring into the kaleidoscope, he inspects the Queen limb by limb as if she were truly a movie star. And then, just like a make-up artist, he puffs her several times with a squirt bottle of a perfume made of essential oils whose smell he hopes will make her more acceptable to her new colony in this unnatural and imposed supersedure, this coup d’etat….
Nervously, he searches around his studio, looking for something, before placing the Queen delicately inside a special case that he will carefully insert into the hive. Charging into the closet, he then dawns a white space suit with a wired mesh bubble top and ambles [awkwardly] out onto the lunar surface upon the fat belly of the mountainside surrounded by the honeycombs of thousands of devotees.
Once he crosses that path entwined with grape vines and honeysuckles, the bees hover around his untouchable alien skull like planets and meteorites around the stars. There, he freezes—standing in awe—before the hives of honeycomb—that harmonious community—the transporter of fertility—that symbolic symbiotic link between flora and fauna…
“If she lays her eggs—as many as 1,500 to 2,000 a day—in a protected cage before she is released, she has then a better chance of being accepted by her new colony. Otherwise, she is doomed….”
The beekeeper has outlived both his wife and his two children on this small plot of land high upon the mountainside. His wife had died in her forties with some strange growth infesting her vital organs; his children had both died of some blood anomaly, far too young. The doctors had no explanation—or so they claimed.
“Over the years there are less and less; the honey has become so pale, it is no longer as rich and pure as it used to be….”
Nearly blind, the beekeeper taps his hand-carved cane, with its silver eagle crown, upon the rocks of the pathway so as to scare away those vipers in their underground holes still hidden…
“Once the bees vanish, so do we….”
These were his last words just a few weeks before he himself left this earthly realm—many miles from the balding Monte Bianco which had already begun to lose its once frosty mane through repeated sunstrokes over the years that had exposed those deep and worried grooves upon its ruggedly tan forehead that had formerly over-lorded the entire valley in pure white majesty.