August 22nd, 2010



A dying bumble bee was between my two stacked laundry baskets. I lifted the top one and there it was, a dark and intricate wriggling thing on smooth white plastic. It made no buzz. There's no telling why it went there. Maybe some instinct to find a narrow, nest-like place reminiscent of its first home. But it was alone in the basket, no hive-buzz to accompany its final hours. I needed to use the basket, and a plastic container in a garage is no place for a bee to die anyway. Bumble bees nest underground, so I took the basket to the end of the row of sourgrass, where there's a hole left by a vanished mole or gopher.

Tipping the basket, I let the bee slide out through one of the side openings and onto the ground next to the hole. Its wriggling was barely visible in the dusk. I could have smashed it and put it out of its misery, but I don't know that a bee's death dance is in fact miserable. Perhaps it is full of delightful hymenopteran fancies. So I left the dying bee there on the warm, familiar soil, surrounded by tufts of sourgrass. I won't water the sourgrass tonight, and I'll leave the porch light off. Only the light of the nearly-full moon will illuminate the bee's passing.

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