Eulogy for a Bee

Mandy Olivam 2015
I knew she was dead when I saw her. Although this November day is mild, the colder weeks preceding it have left little hope for insects to survive.

There she was, her glaring yellow fur and shiny black eyes catching my eye among green, hardy mint stalks and curled brown oak leaves. I bent closer, feeling my inside recoil as I dared to peer nearer than instinct cautioned. Her intricate legs clung to the flower, her grasp firmly set in death.

I felt spontaneous grief at the poignant arrangement. I have rarely seen a dead bee; I do not know if predators find them before I do or if the typical place bees go to die are usually unnoticed by the likes of me. But that this one came to rest on a blossom like the many she must have visited in her brief life read like a poetic eulogy.

Perhaps, whether or not she knew the end was near, she kept on doing what she was born to do as a bee and continued her rounds from plant to plant until chance led to her die on this particular one. But maybe she knew, in the way bees must know something beyond any human conception of knowing, that it was time. Maybe she sought out a green spot in a world turning red and orange, then brown. Perhaps the cold compelled her to a familiar site of warmth and summer, a memorial of her life in its glory.

Did she die with the taste of nectar on her long, agile tongue? Did she savor the sensation of petals against her abdomen? Did she want to delight one last time in the beauty that was living, to watch this holographic world grow dark from the color of springtime?
She would not even laugh at me if she could, surmising about her motives - I imagine bees do not sense humor or experience motivation, let alone sentiment, in any capacity I could apprehend. Nevertheless, something about her creaturehood, and the meticulous earthiness of her complex, still body, stirred the human emotions of love, sadness, and loss within me.

And like a human who seeks pattern and meaning in what she can never understand, I choose to imagine that she wished to make the most of her journey until the end, like I do. I think she, too, sought sweetness even as things changed and delighted in the simple pleasure of being the creature she was. Even in her death, the happenstance and choice of her existence left a mark on the world, left lessons for a stranger of another species, stirred foreign feelings to reverberate in a day of a life she could not have imagined.