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The Beekeeper
by Eric Suhem

“Sometimes I think you just don’t care about me at all. All that matters to you are those bees!” said our mother, as our father the beekeeper tended to the apiary and examined a colony of busy drones.

There had always been bees in the house. Our father the beekeeper saw it as a healthy thing, becoming comfortable with, and not fearing, these busy little workers of nature. Not to mention the extra side revenue of a burgeoning honey business. However, the rest of us felt that this had a negative impact on family dynamics. Our father was distant, and somewhat of an enigma, though a good provider for the family. He seemed to be more comfortable with the bees than with fatherhood.

“You can’t keep shutting me out emotionally,” said our mother as our father put on his beekeeping suit and walked outside to the hives.

Two weeks later, our mother ran off with a honey distributor. Feeling the sting, we asked our father what had happened, and he simply said, “The queen has left the hive.” In the next few weeks, he focused more on his bee career.

“I’m taking the bees to the airport, stay away from the beekeeping equipment while I’m gone,” said our father, tapping the mask of his white beekeeper suit for emphasis. He had taken to wearing his beekeeper suit more and more around the house. He said that he was transporting bees for crop pollination, though we suspected that he was just taking the bees on vacation.

At the airport, our father the beekeeper stacked his white-boxed beehives near the luggage conveyor belt at the ticket counter. “Sir, we’ll need to charge a supplemental luggage fee,” said the counterperson, weighing the hives, as the bees buzzed busily. “We’ll also need to charge an extra fee if you’re going to wear that beekeeping suit on the plane.” The beekeeper contemplated unleashing his bees on the counterperson but instead paid the extra fees.

On the plane, the beekeeper waited for the stewardess to bring his order of Sprite. As he stared at the magenta and turquoise-colored swirling designs on the upholstery of the seat in front of him, the beekeeper construed the noise of the jet engine as the buzzing of bees. When the stewardess approached with the tray of Sprite, the buzzing reached a deafening roar, causing the beekeeper to interpret the approaching stewardess as a massive bee passing out cups of pesticide. In an uproar, he overturned the tray of Sprite while looking at the stewardess’ giant bee’s head and twitching antennae. “Sir if you’ll remain calm, I’ll get you another Sprite,” said the stewardess. To the beekeeper, her words sounded like, “Bzzz….let those who are close to you into the hive…the flowers will yield pollen, and the honey will be sweet and soothing….bzzz….buzzz….”

Upon returning from his trip, our father the beekeeper was more open to us, much to our surprise. He slowly let us into his life, talking about how our mother’s leaving with the honey distributor had affected him. He taught us how to tend the apiary, and protect the bees from varroa mites, wax moths, and small hive beetles.  Our father the beekeeper joined us in learning about making soap, lip balms, candles, and lotions out of wax and honeycombs, the house becoming a buzzing beehive of activity.