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[P]
Tales from the Hive - Birth of a Package

By xC0000005 in Culture
Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: You Know... (all tags)
You Know...

A year ago a week from today, I drove out to the country to pick up small, buzzing box, which became a combination pet, teacher, obsession, and frustration. Yesterday I repeated the process, a year older, a year wiser. If I were to strip away all the nice wording, I would simply say that to install a package of honeybees you dump them out of the box they are in and into the box where you want them. To truly appreciate it, you have to consider what goes on in the colony as it undergoes this process.


Bees are colony organisms, meaning that the living being is really the sum total of the hive occupants, much like a living city. New colonies can be formed by taking pieces from existing ones, but the process is not gentle. In this case, it's like picking up a bus load of people, shaking them until their organs fall out, and then bundling the resultant mess in with a nice fresh heart and waiting for a person to emerge. Packages (the term for the aforementioned buzzing box o' bees) are literally shaken together, by putting a metal funnel above a package box, grabbing a frame from a hive, and shaking the bees off of it, and down the funnel. They sound like M&M's as they go down. The secret to making this work is that before the bees were shaken in, a queen was placed carefully in a queen cage, hanging inside the package box. Once the box weighs the right amount (usually 3 pounds), the funnel is removed, a feeder can is put in, and the package is carried off to stack somewhere in a back room or dock.

And the bees? Bees do not speak, per se, though the sound of the hive is akin to a voice, and one any beekeeper would be wise to listen to. They communicate by chemical scent, and operate on consensus, but if you could listen in, they would smell you what was going on.

During the shaking, alarm pheromones flood the air, a scent like rotten bananas which incites bees to sting and whips them into a frenzy, but for little good. Alarm! Alarm, screams the voice of the hives, amid the confusion of the shake. In the tiny box instinctual terror reigns as they are bounced about, the alarm scent mixing with the scent of crushed bees.

Bees are driven to defend their home, and return to their queen. Each and every queen smells different, and the bees of a hive know their queen, because it is like knowing themselves. She may be their mother, or not, but the reigning queen is imprinted upon their chemical memory like the North Star.

The Queen, The Hive, demands instinct, and they shuffle from edge to edge on the screen, pressed in among thousands of others, but they cannot reach their hive, and in this quiet dock where the packages are stocked, the scent of home is far away.

The field bees that were caught in the shake are older, more stubborn, their "memories" go back further, and they continue to press against the screen of the package, but in the center, something is changing. The younger bees, nurse bees and house bees are more impressionable. Their short lives have been spent in the heart of the broodnest, where the scent, the voice of the queen is everywhere, so strong that it is like she is thundering, I am the Queen. The Queen is here. All is well.

In this package, that familiar chemical voice has fallen silent. In its absence, they are lost. Then, the bees nearest the queen, the youngest bees, catch a new scent, mixed with the terror and alarm. It is the pheromone of the new queen in the package, and while it stands out as not quite right, they are calmed. A single bee lifts its abdomen and begins to beat its wings, releasing a new scent, that smells of lemon grass. This is the gathering scent, a whisper at first that says We are here. Gather. Other bees catch the scent, and pass it on, and now the whisper is spoken aloud, Gather, and louder yet, GATHER as the cluster forms about the new queen. In this area where the packages are stocked, the scent is everywhere, and the bees, each in their own private disaster, gather together. The mind of the colony, formed by consensus and communicated by chemicals coalesces. It is not yet unified, but it is present.

The colony is estranged from itself, split from those who remember the "voice" of the old queen, and those too young to know differently. Even among the nurse bees, they are divided, at times driven to tend to this queen among them, at times driven to tear her apart, but as the hours go by, another shift occures. Their chemical memories are not forever, and in the confines of the package, as instinct demands Find your Queen, the only answer is the ever present repletion by existence of the new queen: I am the queen. All will be well. If there are no other voices to challenge hers, it will be. Their North Star has been eclipsed for so long they can no longer remember what it looked like, but in their communal darkness, they see a new light. The oldest of the field bees, the foragers, may never agree. They may never fully join the new colony, drifting to some other hive, or dieing in the cold, but when the colony speaks now, the voice is clear, and united.

United though they are, tough times await this new package. When they arrive at their new home, they will be sprayed with sugar water (sometimes submerged!), and then unceremoniously dumped into their new home. In the darkness of the new hive, this saga will play out again, but at a lighting pace, the colony quickly sorting itself, verifying that the queen is present, and then gathering. For a day they hang, organizing. And then the colony begins its life. Foragers forage. House bees clean. Nurse bees draw comb. And the queen? She is present, walking among her workforce. As she passes, the bees that attend her pass her scent, one to another, until it fills the colony, giving purpose to them, driving the colony to exist, the hive mind to decide. The Queen is here. All is well, says the scent. In time, that is true.

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Tales from the Hive - Birth of a Package | 59 comments (42 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
Praise Jesus! (1.50 / 4) (#4)
by debacle on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 08:57:50 PM EST

+1 FP.

It tastes sweet.
A suggestion (none / 0) (#8)
by debacle on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 09:03:02 PM EST

Bother an editor and have her put a few of those pictures directly into the story. Doing so will give trane and many others an instant hardon.

So I've heard.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

Bees have nothing to do with technology or culture (1.20 / 10) (#6)
by r3u8rb on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 09:00:28 PM EST



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Join me on irc.slashnet.org #Kuro5hin.org - the official Kuro5hin IRC channel.
They have everything to do with bee culture (3.00 / 3) (#11)
by thankyougustad on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 09:12:44 PM EST

which is known as apiculture. I am not sure how bees refer to their own society, or even if they do.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Wrong (1.50 / 2) (#14)
by r3u8rb on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 10:36:10 PM EST

Apiculture is bee cultivation.

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Join me on irc.slashnet.org #Kuro5hin.org - the official Kuro5hin IRC channel.
[ Parent ]
cultivation is a part of the culture (none / 0) (#16)
by thankyougustad on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 10:45:52 PM EST

culture is often used as a synonym for raising. people also love bees for their delicious honey. Their are songs and pictures of bees. I believe there is a poem or two. There are books, and even stuffed animals and stickers, all devoted to the bee.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Wrong. (1.25 / 4) (#17)
by r3u8rb on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 11:05:15 PM EST



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[ Parent ]
mm? (none / 0) (#22)
by Jobst of Moravia on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 03:30:41 AM EST


---
              __
   .,-;-;-,. /'_\ ---Did this Negro say "Street Moor"?
 _/_/_/_|_\_\) /
'-<_><_><_><_>=\
 `/_/====/_/-'\_\
  ""     ""    ""

[ Parent ]

"mm"? (none / 0) (#26)
by r3u8rb on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 07:33:05 AM EST



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Join me on irc.slashnet.org #Kuro5hin.org - the official Kuro5hin IRC channel.
[ Parent ]
I think he meant "mmm" (none / 0) (#31)
by shm on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 11:08:59 AM EST

You now need to stand on your head to read the internet.

[ Parent ]
i think he was accusing me of being Michael Moore (none / 0) (#41)
by r3u8rb on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 02:53:20 PM EST



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Join me on irc.slashnet.org #Kuro5hin.org - the official Kuro5hin IRC channel.
[ Parent ]
it was a question (none / 0) (#45)
by Jobst of Moravia on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 06:56:05 PM EST

hence the symbol at the end

---
              __
   .,-;-;-,. /'_\ ---Did this Negro say "Street Moor"?
 _/_/_/_|_\_\) /
'-<_><_><_><_>=\
 `/_/====/_/-'\_\
  ""     ""    ""

[ Parent ]

why do you love mm so much (none / 0) (#46)
by r3u8rb on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 07:24:50 PM EST



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[ Parent ]
he gives me that funny feeling in my tummy (none / 0) (#48)
by Jobst of Moravia on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 07:45:33 PM EST


---
              __
   .,-;-;-,. /'_\ ---Did this Negro say "Street Moor"?
 _/_/_/_|_\_\) /
'-<_><_><_><_>=\
 `/_/====/_/-'\_\
  ""     ""    ""

[ Parent ]

mm is awol (none / 0) (#49)
by r3u8rb on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 09:21:32 PM EST



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[ Parent ]
That is called... (none / 0) (#55)
by BJH on Sat Apr 22, 2006 at 12:28:09 AM EST

..."intrusion by wang".
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
Bee's communicate by dancing. (3.00 / 7) (#15)
by daani on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 10:42:06 PM EST

The word "culture" may be loosely translated as the hokey-pokey.


[ Parent ]
I believe (none / 0) (#27)
by toulouse on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 08:36:06 AM EST

it's `zzzzt-ZZZt-zzt-[circle leftwards twice]', although that might be `Cartesian mind-body dualism'. They often confuse me with that shit.

--
'My god...it's full of blogs.' - ktakki
--


[ Parent ]
Bee quiet. (3.00 / 5) (#13)
by shm on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 09:47:50 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Yes they have $ (none / 0) (#25)
by nebbish on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 07:08:47 AM EST


---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

neither do i (none / 0) (#40)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 02:15:54 PM EST

and i live here

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Someone else said it best (none / 0) (#58)
by luckbeaweirdo on Sat May 06, 2006 at 02:09:34 PM EST

"You are a fucking retard" r3u8rb.

Go get laid so you can be happy.

Bees, honey, apiculture, they are ALL part of our culture/the culture.

Maybe not part of your daily experience of it, but someone, somewhere, everyday experiences those things.

what a fucking dick you are

Guy writes a great story and that is the best you have to say?

FUCK OFF

[ Parent ]

i'm so happy that (3.00 / 5) (#12)
by wampswillion on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 09:43:53 PM EST

the bee guy is back.  

Bees are the portal... (3.00 / 3) (#18)
by terryfunk on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 12:03:07 AM EST

to bardo and the 7 Wrathful Dieties.

I like you, I'll kill you last. - Killer Clown
The ScuttledMonkey: A Story Collection

+1 Bee guy. n (3.00 / 3) (#20)
by livus on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 01:51:33 AM EST



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HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

+1 FP, nice writing... (3.00 / 3) (#30)
by roseWallpaper on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 10:00:54 AM EST

I don't like bees.
They have the power to kill me, very easily.
(i.e., I'm allergic to them.)
Fuck bees...

i've read every bee story in your diary (3.00 / 10) (#32)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 11:25:17 AM EST

+1 fp

hope you never run into these guys

what blows my mind is how when these giant hornets, which can kill a man in one sting, discover a hive of bees, 6-8 of them can slaughter 30,000 bees in a few hours. pick, pinch, pull. pick, pinch, pull. CARNAGE. MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA

even more mind blowing is the bee's natural defense mechanism: they swarm the giant hornets. so what? their swarming and vibrating raises the temperature in the center of the ball, where the hornet is, and BAKES THE MOTHERFUCKER ALIVE. HOLY SHIT! WARFARE IN MOTHER NATURE IS INSANE! sucks have an exoskeleton for thermal regulation...

so what do the hornets want with the bees? the honey? nope, they completely ignore that. they masticate the dead bees on the battlefield, and turn them into a tasty bee meatball. then they fly back to their own nest, where they feed the meatball to their larvae

then, to blow your mind yet again, adult giant hornets can't eat bees. so how do they survive? their own larvae regurgitate a clear liquid, feeding their own parents

mother nature is f***ing weird

finally, wait thru the commercial and give yourself nightmares watching this 5 minute video of the giant japanese hornets stalking then slaughtering a healthy hive, EVERY SINGLE BEE TO THE LAST ONE, into a mass of dying and dead bees

when you're 5x the size of a poor little bee, and all you do is kill kill kill, you must be the stuff of bee nightmares, if bees have nightmares


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

spectacular! (none / 1) (#59)
by terryfunk on Mon May 08, 2006 at 01:07:42 PM EST

Facts are always stranger than fiction.

Mother Nature is a an Unkind Mistress when Being a Green Mother.

I like you, I'll kill you last. - Killer Clown
The ScuttledMonkey: A Story Collection

[ Parent ]

FYI (2.00 / 6) (#35)
by Linux or Mac OS X on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 11:43:26 AM EST

Your vote (1) was recorded.
This story currently has a total score of 70.

You're the straw that broke the camel's back!
Your vote put this story over the threshold, and it should now appear on the front page. Enjoy!



"Ugh, my stomach is full of tequila and semen." - LilDebbie


ysb

read this if you have time.. (none / 0) (#37)
by blufox on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 12:31:22 PM EST

Soul of a White Ant. It is a description of colony of white ants.
.
One of the best articles... (none / 1) (#38)
by terryfunk on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 01:06:29 PM EST

I have read here...enjoyed it a lot.

I like you, I'll kill you last. - Killer Clown
The ScuttledMonkey: A Story Collection

bees (none / 0) (#39)
by realaaaaa on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 01:56:12 PM EST

bees is very powerful, some of them can kill people easily!
calls free
social commentary (3.00 / 4) (#42)
by loteck on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 05:12:19 PM EST

there is, perhaps, some social commentary or metaphor that could be drawn from this, although im not sure what it is, and i prefer not to think about it too long because, just now, everything smells familiar and therefore great.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

borg:you will be assimilated,resistance is futile$ (none / 0) (#43)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 05:36:59 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Well done. (none / 1) (#44)
by TheNoxx on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 06:45:19 PM EST

I've actually taken a class in beekeeping, and have wanted to keep honeybees for a long while... problem is, the neighbors have small children, and I'm sure they'd be rather irate were I to keep a swarming hive of bees, no matter the kind, next to where their offspring play. Pity...

You sound gay for bees (1.33 / 3) (#50)
by Ace Jones on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 10:54:07 PM EST

An act of that nature must surely sting

Reminds me (none / 0) (#51)
by freestylefiend on Thu Apr 20, 2006 at 03:50:54 AM EST

...of this:
Fiddle de dum, Fiddle de dee,
Eric the half a bee.
Ho ho ho, tee hee hee,
Eric the half a bee.

I love this hive, employee-ee,
Bisected accidentally,
One summer afternoon by me,
I love him carnally.

He loves him carnally,
Semi-carnally.
The end.

Cyril Connelly?
No; semi-carnally!



[ Parent ]
Enjoyed a lot! (none / 0) (#52)
by JennyB on Thu Apr 20, 2006 at 09:05:17 AM EST

I always wonder how bees could be so clever, finding the way home, defeating themselves, building their colony inside the hive. How could they be so highly socially developed without the communication?
Your story is admirable! It explains what's really happining inside bees' society. I read the article in one go. Thanks for writing that!
----------------------------------------------
Software and Cathedrals are much the same First we build them then we pray

bee news (none / 0) (#53)
by BlueHalo on Fri Apr 21, 2006 at 06:07:11 PM EST

i love these bee stories - makes me want to start up my own hive. :)

It was an observation hive (none / 0) (#54)
by xC0000005 on Sat Apr 22, 2006 at 12:16:20 AM EST

that finally pushed me to do it. I enjoy working with the bees. I enjoy struggling to control my fear of flying, stinging insects. I learn a lot from watching them. Reason enough for me to keep my hives. :)

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
So glad that bee season is back. (none / 0) (#56)
by ethereal on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 03:57:28 PM EST

Sadly for the site, these diaries are one of the primary reasons I come back here any more.

Please keep up the good work!

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

that was fucking dope! (none / 0) (#57)
by luckbeaweirdo on Sat May 06, 2006 at 02:06:02 PM EST

What a great story, that was fantastic, thanks.

Tales from the Hive - Birth of a Package | 59 comments (42 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
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