My Shame

I am a bee brutalizer.

Not on purpose. I went into one of the hives today to see if it needed another box. Right now each hive has three boxes. I removed the top box with little fanfare. In a Warre hive the bees will sometimes connect comb to the top-bars of the box below. I knew from the last inspection that this was probable so I ran a piece of wire between the two boxes before I pulled them apart. It worked but was exceeedingly difficult to get started.

The first box was completely full of comb, mostly honey and what looked like a little brood right at the bottom. I set it aside.

Thinking about the difficulty of starting the wire on the first box I used my hive tool to lift the corners of the second box. When I did, the box moved freely.

“Oh good,” I thought to myself, “I can just lift this one.”

I was so wrong!

I lifted the box and three of the top-bars of the bottom box came with it. I set the box back down and picked up my wire. It was so difficult to start and move. I tugged and sawed and tugged – as gently as I could of course, I’m not a barbarian – and finally the wire began to move.

I have to admit that I was sweating as the I slid the wire out of the back of the box.

Had I known what I would see when I lifted the second box away I would’ve been crying as well. Three bars worth of comb lay collapsed on the bottom board. The three top-bars that the comb once hung on lay underneath, just the ends visible. I honestly don’t know if the comb broke off when I set the box back down or if – and this is what I suspect and fear happened – the bars were cocked up and I cut the comb off with the wire.

Aaaggghhh! It hurts even to type that.

I had no idea what to do. I managed to get the bars back onto the box where they belong and I left the comb on the floor. I’m hoping that the bees will somehow fix my mistake.

And eventually forgive me.

Roundabout

We’re in another internet dead zone so you are stuck with just my words.

When we first moved out here we were besieged by yellow jackets. I mean seriously besieged. We bought one of those pheremone bait traps and emptied it like 3 times. They were just obnoxious. One evening while we were sitting on the deck Don asked – because for some unknown reason he thinks I know stuff like this – “What purpose do yellow jackets serve?”

What purpose?

I told him I didn’t know because I didn’t. I know now that yellow jackets are carrion eaters and often clean up bee carcases, etc. They also eat some caterpillars and beetle larvae.

But still, is that a “purpose”? Can a yellow jacket have a purpose?

Still a year later I am thinking about this question. And at the end of that year I think it is too dangerous to ask if the yellow jacket serves any purpose. We can look at it’s activites and effects on the world around it and say that they are beneficial to us but that is not the same thing as purpose. And more importantly it is too human centric and emotional.

Purpose has connotations of meaning and intention. To say that the yellow jacket intended to evolve in the way it did violates the way evolution works. And to say that the yellow jacket was created to fill a need supposes a human world view as the benchmark of existence.

There is no “purpose” as we define it in the natural world. There is only opportunity and constant balancing. The yellow jacket disposes of dead flesh not because there was a need for it but because there was an opportunity to flourish.

Like the great I Am, the yellow jacket just is. It fills one of a billion niches in our small biosphere only because it can fill that niche.

I’m okay with that. I dread the day I decide that something shouldn’t exist because I can’t discern it’s purpose.

Of course all of this rumination could be just the after effects of selling my old Ford tractor today. It went to a good home with another old man chasing nostalgia.