Susie walked morosely behind the queen, expecting a lecture or two at any moment. Once in awhile, the queen would make an impatient noise and Susie would fly ahead to catch up. After awhile, Susie could no longer stand the silence.
“Are you going to tell me not to work too hard anymore?” Susie guessed, feeling thirsty. “That bees need to work together? That the life of the colony is worth more than the individual? Or that when life gives you lemons, make honey?”
“Heavens, child, what have you been reading? I hate those frou frou sayings,” the Queen Bee declared, flicking her antennae disdainfully. “They’re anything but helpful. My grandmother had them embroidered on all her pillows. Made me sick. Come along now, you keep dragging behind. We’re nearly there.”
“Nearly where, your majesty?” Susie coughed, pausing again for breath. Her knees felt weak again and she felt her antennae droop.
“To the point of burn out,” the Queen announced with a mysterious smile. “Look there, child.”
Susie buzzed to the edge of the cliff where they now stood. Below, there was a vast hive, the biggest one she had ever seen. And it was on fire.
“We have to help them!” Susie exclaimed, feeling energy surge through her wings. “All that honey–to waste!”
The queen shook her head, touching Susie’s shoulder to stop her from flying forward.
“This is just a memory. This happened long ago, you see, when I was queen of this tribe,” Queen Victoria patiently explained. “Watch…this is the part where I evacuate all the bees…”
As if on cue, a curtain of bees flew out of the smoke in neat lines. The curtain undulated over the field, bringing with it the smell of smoke and burning beeswax. Susie thought she spied the Queen, her flower crown askew in her hurry. Some bees had gorged themselves on honey, trying to take what they could for their new home. Bee after bee evacuated; curtain after curtain emerged.
The sight was majestic and breathtaking. Susie sighed in relief, listening to the bee’s buzzing chant of determination. Her large eyes brimmed with tears. The tribe would survive. They were together.
“Alright. We’re done here. Off you go, back to your world, young lady,” Queen Victoria announced with a push. “I need to get back to my hive. I have my soap operas to catch.”
“Wait, what?” Susie spoke, jolted out of her reverie. “You brought me all the way out here just for this? You didn’t even tell me why!”
“Come on girl–don’t you see? The lesson’s as clear as a sunflower in a farmer’s field. Why do you think I brought you here? What did you just see?”
Susie looked down at her feet in thought, rubbing her empty belly in embarrassment. The queen tapped a foot, waiting.
“I’m not sure,” the young bee finally admitted. “I’m sorry, your majesty. I’m just not sure what this means. I’m glad they made it out safely. But all that honey…It all went to waste, didn’t it?”
“Oh, bother the honey!” the queen snapped, losing her patience. “Well, wake up and think about it then, you silly bee. It’s already past 4 o’clock in your world and you’re still in bed! Rise and shine, deary. This will help get the cotton out of your head so you can think clearly for a change.”
And with that, the Queen launched a large drop of dew right at Susie’s face, making the young bee splutter and gasp.
What do you think the queen’s lesson is? Stay tuned for a conclusion to Susie’s journey.
Part I here.
Part II here.
Part III here.
Part IV here.