"The stars are threshed, and the souls are threshed from their husks."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Like Sharks on Bloody Meat

"The bees have what's called a honey gut. That's where they store the nectar they get from flowers, and it causes an enzymatic change, turning it into honey." While saying this, Harold casually plucked one of the now ubiquitous bees out of the air with one hand and ripped it partially in half. Suspended between both halves of the bee hung a small jewel of honey. "That's the honey gut. That's pure honey in there." And then Harold grabbed the gut with one finger, discarded the rest of the bee, and scooped it into his mouth. "Mmm."

Scott was changing film and didn't quite see the extraordinary event clearly.

"Did Harold just catch a bee out of the air?" He asked, hurrying over to where we stood.

"Yes, and pulled it apart to show us the honey gut."

"Can you do that again, Harold?"

"Sure." And with equal ease, he snatched another bee from its innocent flight and, as if he was untying a knot, pulled both ends of the bee away from one another until the honey gut hung full and fat as a tick between them, catching the sun, burning with light. This one found its way into Scott's mouth.

"Mmm. That's honey," he said.

What is the life of a bee worth? I wondered. The management of the a hive and the health of the queen—the only necessary personality—depends on sheer numbers. One bee, or two bees, or three bees, is of no value. The hive requires hundreds of workers and drones to ensure that enough honey is stored to last the long, cold, virginal winter, and that the queen is nourished long enough to produce an heir. Every action taken by a beekeeper is communal, save for adding a queen to an abandoned or infertile colony. Centuries away and thousands of miles distant from any monarchy, I was suddenly swept up into a Homeric drama, where a hundred thousand nameless souls could and would perish in defense or attack of Helen's bedroom whimsy. And who was this standing next to me- Harold no longer, but Zeus, looming over each buzzing city-state with total, if benevolent, power. The singular defense of the bee is an instrument its undoing. She may sting once, then die. The beehive, a civilization of dizzy grandeur, an archive of eternal spring, is constructed piecemeal of endless tragedy. Here they are, I thought, breaking though the invisible trade-lines between many hives and the barbaric, floral beyond, here are the Greeks.

From "Like Sharks on Bloody Meat" from EOB


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