Tues, 11th Dec 2019

Bee Stings

Text by: 

Grace Rust

Photo by: 
Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Getting stung by a bee is not pleasurable. It’s a pain that gets sharper with time, and only after a while will it begin to subside, fading away into a dull, irritating point. But it leaves no mark. After the pain is gone, there is nothing to remind you that you’ve once been stung — it’s merely a memory. You have to remind yourself getting stung by life is not that simple. Life gives you constant reminders that it’s changing.

The change of people in your life, change of passion, change of home — people often don’t take it well. We aren’t able to cope with change. When you lose someone, something as simple as a scent or a song could bring that pain back to you.

When Jane lost her grandfather, it wasn’t as simple as the bee stings she was used to from his honeybees. The sting of his death was long-lasting and the pain reoccurred randomly. She still remembers the start of it all. Her grandfather first got his bees when she was around nine or ten. They appeared at the house in Delaware during Christmas and suddenly there were beekeeping books on the coffee table and jars of honey being distributed to all the aunts and uncles. The adult talk now consisted of words she’d never heard of before — braula coeca, levulose, chilled brood.

Bees spread through the house like wildfire. Suddenly there were bees everywhere, in the flowers and on the sidewalks and in her drawings at school.

Then the hive spread to the island in Maine, where a lighter, sweeter honey was made from the wild blueberries. The honey from Maine was almost translucent; it was sweet and dainty to the tongue, whereas the honey from Delaware was a rich amber that lingered on the tongue. There wasn’t anywhere Jane could go without seeing the remnants of honeybees. She would even get stung from time to time, running barefoot in the clover, getting too close to hive without realizing. The stings would never last.

As easily as the bees appeared, they disappeared after her grandfather was gone. The hive fell apart without her grandfather. The queen died and the worker bees went off to find a new hive. They don’t know how to fix themselves. The loss of their beekeeper, Jane’s grandfather, fatally stung the bees. And as the bees themselves died, so did their influence in the house — the books and words and jars disappeared. The bees became a fond memory. Her family realized that, unlike a bee sting, this one wouldn’t go away. The stinger would remain wedged in their conscious for the rest of their lives, his words and laughter lingering like honey on the tongue.