The Free Bee

After a summer of glorious, unbridled freedom, I started reaching a little too far into my savings to fund a lifestyle that was quickly losing its shine. I wanted to earn that Friday night feeling again. It was time to get back to work. 

Starting a new job in the middle of a pandemic is … weird. While my new agency’s physical doors are open, only 10 coworkers can be there at the same time. Garrett and I, the two recent hires, go in regularly, grasping at a semblance of normalcy knowing we’ll be the new kids far longer than we care to be. 

One hidden benefit is getting to know the space unsupervised. I can poke my nose around, peek into drawers, wander about undisturbed. My favorite place is the building’s rooftop deck with a view that spans from the west hills all the way to Mt. Hood on clear days. It’s the perfect place to soak up some much needed silence in-between the Google Hangout calls. 

I was up there a few weeks ago when the PNW was at its finest. The sun was bright and warm in a deep blue sky. The jungle of plants that call Portland home were bursting at their autumnal peak. I had just finished my salad and superfood cookie and leaned back in my chair to admire the mountain. 

My lustful gaze was interrupted by two small honeybees swooping in on a gentle, coordinated attack. One landed on the napkin in front of me. The other was raising concern somewhere behind my chair. I watched the one in front of me with casual interest. Its fuzzy, pointed butt bobbed up and down as it busied itself with a massive cookie crumb. The other one was likely tangled up in my hair. I swished my ponytail to make sure that wasn’t the case and accidentally bumped the table with my knee. 

The slight movement sent the first bee flying straight up into the lip of my salad bowl. It struggled against the unexpected containment – tiny arms and antenna flailing furiously as it searched for a way out. Instead of taking the obvious route to freedom – moving down and out – it went sideways, rounding the corner in an increasingly desperate attempt to escape. 

Around and around it went, rounding each corner with renewed hope and a burst of energy. While it was obvious from my vantage point that freedom was all around it, the bee continued to push harder against the barrier it knew rather than try another way. 

I picked up the container and said to the bee, “You’re gonna fall and you’re going to be free.” Then I dropped it lightly onto the table.

The downward motion gently knocked the bee out of the lip and it flew with great speed up and away to safety. The motion seemed involuntary. My guess is, flying up is usually its out. When presented with the possibility that the normal way was no longer the viable way, it resorted to panic in an attempt to fight its way out of trouble. An action that only exhausted it and caused it to miss out on a really excellent cookie crumb.  

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