“Hey you!” TAP. TAP. TAP. “You, kid! I’m talking to you.” Dillon turned his head away from his computer screen and looked around. He was alone in the room. He figured he had been daydreaming, so he turned back to his computer and tried to ‘concentrate’. “Oh come on! Are you seriously going to waste a perfectly beautiful day sitting inside?” Now Dillon was seriously freaked out. Who was talking to him?! Were there ghosts in the house?! But his friend, Sam had told him they only come out at night and it was 10:30 am on a bright Saturday morning.
He pulled back his chair slowly, taking in the room around him. TAP. TAP. “Here buddy! Out the window.” Dillon got off the chair slowly and walked gingerly towards the window. He looked out and was eye to eye with a……bee. The bee was so close, he could hear the whirring of it’s wings. He blinked. Once. Twice. It couldn’t be. Had he really heard the bee talking? ‘Bees don’t talk, Dillon!’ he chided himself. ‘You’re losing it for real!’ But just as that thought crossed his mind, the bee spoke to him.
“Hi again, my name is B, Queen B. My friends call me Queenie. And you are?” Dillon giggled. “What’s so funny, kid?” Queen B asked, a little miffed. Dillon stifled his giggle and said “Do you know who Wanda Sykes is?” Queenie was silent so Dillon added “She is a comedian. You sound just like her!” he finished, with another giggle before slapping his hand over his mouth and looking guilty. Ofcourse Queenie hadn’t heard of Ms Sykes. She probably didn’t watch TV like he did. Queenie rolled her eyes, ‘kids nowadays’ she thought.
“Soooo” Dillon started “is that where you live?” he asked pointing to a hive high up in the tree right outside his window. “Uh huh. That’s where my colony is. We’ve been here, hmm, let’s see…going on 2 years now. This neighborhood has a lot of flowering plants so my workers don’t have to fly too far to gather nectar.” Dillon was fascinated by all this information.
“Sooo, how many of you live in there? And you rule them all? Do you wear a crown too and sit on a throne?” he asked excitedly. Queenie laughed a mirthful laugh. “Kid, you’re funny. I don’t really rule like the mean queen. My workers are pretty self motivated so I only provide guidance and ofcourse, lay eggs. And no, I don’t have a crown or a throne but maybe I should. A girl could get used to some pampering!” she said preening a little. “There’s about 20,000 of us of which around 100 are male drones and rest of us are all girls.” she finished.
“Soooo, do you have a pretty interesting life?” Dillon asked, a little piqued. “I do. Us girls have the most fun. We hang out a lot and talk about things – the world, life, best places to gather nectar. A lot of bonding can happen over honey wine. The boys have their thing too. Why do you ask?”
Dillon’s eyes lit up. “You see, I have write this report for school and I’ve wracked my brains but the only fun topic I could come up with was my dog, Ollie. Maybe I can write about you instead? Will you tell me your story? Please? ” He turned on his extra special charms reserved for special favors only. ‘So that was why he was staring at his computer’ Queenie thought ‘probably trying to come up with a topic. Well here I am with a topic delivered on a silver platter.’
“I have the story of a lifetime for you, kid! You might just win the Pulitzer with this one.” Queenie said with a chuckle.
“What’s that?” asked Dillon. It sounded like a big deal but she was only a bee. How great a story could she have.
“It’s a pretty big deal in the writer world. If you win it, you’re considered famous! So do you want to hear it or not?” Queenie asked. Dillon nodded his head excitedly.
Queenie paused for dramatic effect. “You know, when I was little, I almost died because my big sister wanted to be the queen.” Dillon’s jaw dropped to the ground and Queenie had to squash a chuckle making it’s way up her throat. “Dina was the first one to emerge out of the cell and thought by virtue, she deserved it. Wait, don’t they teach you this stuff in school?” she asked. Dillon shook his head. “Your sister sounds really evil and you are so brave. Tell me more! Is she nicer now?” Queenie shook her head and sighed.
“It’s a long story, kid. How about we go out into the garden. I can tell you my story as I gather some nectar and you Sir, could definitely use some sun! Meet me outside by the bench.” she said as she whirred away.
Five minutes later, Dillon was sitting on the bench, notepad on his lap, pen poised in his right hand, feet dangling off the edge, excitement writ all over his face.
Queenie smiled as she began telling her well-rehearsed story. She had told it to so many others over the years that it had almost become mechanical. “I know you don’t know this so I will give you some background. In the bee world, there can only be 1 queen. The current queen of the hive lays eggs which are all female. A few eggs are laid in a special section of the hive picked for potential queens. They get the best treatment and the best royal jelly so they can develop well.”
“When the first queen larva matures into a full grown bee, she emerges from her cell and goes around calling for her other “queen” sisters. When they respond to her call, she then goes into their cells and kills them one by one.” Dillon gasped when she said that. This was turning into way more than he had anticipated.
Queenie continued “I did not know this when I was little so when I heard someone calling and then a lot of others responding, I figured the world outside my cell was full of friends. So I called out too at the top of my voice. Soon however the shout-backs started to wane and I began to wonder what was going on. I was wondering if I should break out of my cell to check when, a shadow crowded my cell wall. Soon a bee entered into my cell but instead of saying Hi, she lunged at me and said ‘You need to die, little sister, so I can become queen.’ I was so scared that I lashed out reflexively. I don’t have much recollection of what happened after, but I woke up and I was tucked into bed and in a lot of pain. My mom, the then queen watched over me day and night until I was better. She never talked about that night but I could tell she was very proud of how I had stood up for myself.”
“A year later my mom said it was time for me to go out and find my soulmate. I was scared but she told me I was a brave girl and I’d be fine. So off I went. My girlfriends had told me about a few hives where they had seen some cute boys hang out so I headed in that direction. I hadn’t even gone far when I almost flew right into Ricky. Oh man, my heart stopped! Cute?! He was downright handsome. And he was no boy! It was love at first sight. For both of us! He was smitten with me and I was head over heels in love with him.”
“We flew around for days, checking out the sights and sounds. He brought me back the best nectar and took me out on a night picnic to look at the downtown lights. I was in heaven. My mom was right, I thought, everything was going to be ok. We made plans to get married and have kids. Ricky even started making up names. That night we went to bed and when I woke up the next morning, Ricky wasn’t breathing. He was so still.” Queenie got quiet as she remembered that day. A small tear slid down her cheek. Had Dillon not been so focused on her, he would have completely missed it. “I’m so sorry, Queenie. I’ve never been in love but I love my parents and my little sister and it would kill me if I lost any of them.”
“It nearly killed me too” Queenie whispered. She was sobbing quietly now but managed to continue with her story. “I flew back home. I stayed in my cell and cried for days. My mom and friends tried to console me but I didn’t care. It was a long time before I finally came to terms with the fact that Ricky was dead. I still miss him so much!” Queenie’s voice cracked. She said “I’ll be right back” and then flew away before Dillon could say anything. Dillon waited a few minutes and began to write a few things in his notepad. He was definitely going to write his school report on Queenie. He had just begun to think she wasn’t coming back, when she flew right back to him.
“Sorry, I needed a quick break” she said with a sad smile. “So where were we? Hmm, so I came back home and after a long while I started to feel normal again. My mom realized I needed something to keep my mind occupied, so she told me that I should start thinking about maybe taking a few of the bees and heading off to make my own hive. I was old enough and experienced enough to lead my own colony. I took about 500 of my most trusted workers and we went off in search of a new location. That is how we landed outside your house and the rest is history.” she said almost relieved to be done.
Dillon asked almost hesitantly “And you never fell in love again?” If Queenie had a dollar for every time someone asked her that, she’d be as rich as a real queen. “No” she said “Ricky was the only one for me. I named my first born girl Megan, just like he wanted to. She will be queen someday soon. I’m sure he is watching over us and will see her rule.”
“Queenie, thank you for sharing your story with me. It is beautiful and I am going to tell it to everyone at school. I’ve decided this is going to be my report for next week. I do have a request. Can I still call you Queenie in my report? In your honor?”
“Of course kid! I wouldn’t have it any other way! Why should someone else steal the credit!” she said laughingly. “Alright kid, it’s getting dark out. You should go back inside and I need to head home too. I have a lot to do before bedtime including designing my new crown and throne!” On that note, Queenie whirred off towards the top of the tree where her family waited for her.
2 weeks later, Dillon called out to Queenie from his window and when she showed up, he showed her his report. At the top right corner of the report was a massive A+ in red. Underneath it was a note that said “Love your imagination! Keep it up!” The smile of Dillon’s face told it all. “Nicely done kid!! Now, when do they nominate you for that Pulizter?” Queenie asked, with a hearty chuckle!