Bees in Winter

This is not a post about bees.

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, I geared up in a ridiculous hat that my aunt knitted for me so she could be there in spirit, gathered my mother, another aunt, and a great, feminist friend (who is incidentally also one of the fiercest, smartest women I have the privilege of knowing) and headed to Hartford for the Women’s March Sister March there. Much to my surprise, tiny, quiet, steadily unobtrusive Connecticut turned up more than 10,000 people of every creed and color to the Capitol steps, to come together for women’s rights, for justice, for environmental protection, and so much more. I was bowled over. And despite an awkward sing-along moment (I hate singing publicly and hate group singing even more, it makes my soul cringe and I cannot help grimacing even when I truly want to participate), for the first time since November 9, I felt hopeful.

getyershittogether
She’s not blaming you, she’s highlighting your complicit privilege. She’s also not wrong. She’s also anonymous because this is how she graced my newsfeed.
I know the March(es) were not perfect. In order to move forward with the movement that Saturday began, straight, white, middle class women are going to have to do a lot of reading and even more listening, and then EVEN MORE LISTENING. And then we’re going to have to fucking show up. And by show up, I mean that Saturday was not a one-off, that in order to understand the plight of women worldwide, it means showing up for people who are not like you. It means going to the next #BlackLivesMatter rally that you can attend. It means outreach to neighbors and strangers and it means being wrong, and dealing with your wrongness, and dealing with being shut out and shut up because in order to do AllOfThis, we have to acknowledge and embrace our differences and use them, because they can be strengths. And it won’t be easy, and it won’t be comfortable. Hell, I like to think I’m intersectional as fuck and it makes me uncomfortable as a cishet white lady. Shockingly, getting your dumbfuck kicked out of your head often has that effect. And there is so much dumbfuck going around these days. SO MUCH. For instance, and I won’t link to the imbecilic post I’m thinking of that some dumb white cunt (please take me to task for using that word or whatever, I’m sure I care, but there is no other word I mean more in this moment) rattled off, stating she doesn’t need feminism or feminists and possibly actively hates them, but if you have been on social media, you’ve probably seen it. Gina Davis – not that Geena Davis, she fucking rocks – and those like her don’t need any backlinks from this pissed off bitch, (meager though they may be). The Davis you should read right now is Angela, especially since she dismantles that fuckwit’s entire vacuous argument in one deft quote.

Feminism involves so much more than gender equality and it involves so much more than gender. Feminism must involve consciousness of capitalism. So it has to involve a consciousness of capitalism and racism and colonialism and post-colonialities, and ability and more genders than we can even imagine and more sexualities than we ever thought we could name.

And boy am I pissed. I am so fucking angry about the horrifying turn our country, and in fact the world, has taken that they haven’t invented a word for it. And like many, I’m also hurt, and the hurt compounds the anger that compounds the hurt. I’m hurt because I know members of my extended family and friends voted for and even vociferously, cacklingly, and with prideful obtuseness support Trump. And I don’t think we can really converse about it now while the anger is so ripe because, clearly, it will do no good. I have not yet figured out how to convince people they should actively care about others when they will not, when they care only for their own in-group, unable to realize that we are all the same group. Unless you are worth millions, you are not like Trump. You will never live like Trump. You will always have more in common day-to-day with the immigrant Pakistani family of five who moved in down the block than you will ever have with him or his authoritarian fascist coven (except perhaps, the authoritarianism, that seems to be catching on like wildfire these days). And I feel pity, pity for the people who support Trump and will be most harmed by his policies. And subsequently, I feel fear and soul-deep empathy for the innocent people that Trump and his supporters will wrongheadedly, hatefully blame for this future harm – the people of color, the immigrants, the LGBTQIA, the Muslims, the women, the liberals. (I’m sorry, I misspelled that last one, it should be libtards. I know who you are who use that term, or something similar, and the other, much, much worse epithets behind your doors so closed to difference. It reminds me of Truman Capote’s acerbic line, “a ‘fag’ is ‘homosexual gentleman’ who has just left the room.”)

I am, as it were, feeling like a threatened bee with no way out. The problem  with threatened bees of course, is that when they finally become angry and fearful enough to sting, they disembowel themselves. This is because a worker bee’s stinger is a modification of her ovipositor – her reproductive organs. Only a queen bee can lay eggs. And only female worker bees can sting.

800px-dead_bee_winter
A drone in the late fall.
Drones, the male bees, have no stingers and do not contribute to the colony – they exist solely for reproduction and spend their lives hovering above the tree canopy hoping to get lucky with a non-relative queen who might pass by. They eat the food stores their sisters toil endlessly to create, and make messes in the hive they leave for this same kin to clean. They fatten and fly and hope to get laid once in their short lives. And when autumn comes, their sisters unceremoniously shoo them into the cold where they inevitably freeze or starve to death. Their purpose was – perhaps if they were lucky – served, and they cannot weigh down the colony as it overwinters. And so the drones are disposed of like so much detritus.

In winter, the hive cluster of female workers and the queen, maintains a steady heat in the hivebody by constant movement and shifting, sharing the burden, ensuring the colony’s survival in the bitterest cold. The heart of a cluster in the dead of winter can reach 95F, and never drops below 40F. And for a creature whose lifespan in warm weather is about 4 months, their lives can stretch to 1/3 again as long to help the colony through the winter. They are remarkable, beautiful, determined creatures for whom their collective’s healthy and continued existence is their only imperative.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Since you segued into writing about bees after all we hope you will forgive a moment of pedantry as we point out that queen bees can also sting and, unlike workers, repeatedly since their stinger is not barbed. They generally reserve its use for other queens.

    We are much enjoying your posts.

    1. Courtney says:

      As I pedant myself, I can respect that! Should have said “rarely stings” 🙂

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