When I was a kid I collected bumblebees with a butterfly net,
Because I heard they needed saving.
Because I didn’t like the way no one thought they could be just as beautiful,
Because their wings didn’t match their bodies right.
Well you know, butterflies’ wings are too big for its body anyways so
What’s wrong with being too small?
Maybe the bees just wanted to say, “Fuck you gravity, I don’t need to follow your rules.”
In some way, I thought keeping them in a jar with honey would keep them away from the poisoned farmer flowers.
That if I put them on display, maybe people would look.
That they’d double-take black and yellow fuzzballs that lose balance when they get drunk on tree sap.
That when people close their eyes a little too tight or when their hands fall asleep,
Because it feels like bumble bees.
The next morning I had dead bees in a jar,
But a beehive in my backyard.
I’d like to think they knew there was a four-foot defender on their side
Standing between them and the rest of the world.
I had only ever been stung once
And I did not cry until I arranged a funeral for my confused bug friend.
I don’t think she knew that she didn’t need to risk her life because of me.
Later on that day I found out,
A honey bee’s stinger can rip out parts of its abdomen,
Leave behind muscles and nerves.
Sometimes when I'm with you I feel like I’m ripping out parts of my abdomen,
Just a honey bee trying to protect her hive.
I grew up a feminist who knew the bee movie to be inaccurate.
All the drone bees were boys
But I had always known females to be the ones to do all the hard work.
To ignore the male bees and kick them out of the hive in the wintertime
Because I knew they’d just waste their lives on the queen,
And no one in that goddamn hive would be alive without me.
In the fourth grade,
You told me you wanted to hurt yourself.
I told you about how a bee’s sting could never protect its hive from a human.
The human will keep walking over piles of insect corpses
And make it to the hive anyway.
It’ll gut the hive like a barbed bee sting.
Then you’ll just have an empty hive and bug intestines everywhere.
You decided that hurting yourself wouldn’t be worth it and thanked me for my advice.
Even if I had already been hurting myself for years.
I used to think you were more butterfly.
That people didn’t mind my warning sign stripes because they were too busy
Looking at your bright blue wispy wings.
But I started to realize we might not be that different.
That you worshipped the idea of being the queen bee because you liked to look like blue-spotted danger;
Having boys drool over you and recognizing that their only purpose
Is having you for as long as you want
Before you decide that they’re not good enough for the hive anyway.
You get a worker bee like me to kick him out for you.
And I will obey,
If you tell me he is a threat to the hive you asked me to build for him,
I’ll watch his tiny wings shrivel in the winter’s air.
I will not tell you the way I used to feel about him.
I will let you have everything you wanted
Because I did this to myself.
Worker bees raise the queen to keep the attention off of themselves.
Let the men focus on you so they don't bug me while I work.
Maybe when this started off that’s exactly what I wanted.
But now I’d like it if someone could look close enough
To see that I am warm gold and cool brown,
That I am pollen stuck to my toes,
I am nectar and honey dripping down the corners of my mouth,
I am wings too small for my body,
I am feminism in a hive,
I am hands when they fall asleep,
I am happy for you despite all that you have taken from me.
I am bee.