Something’s wrong—some pesticide, parasite, or virus
infecting the honeybee brain—

they fan out in dawn beelines for work, mucking
chest-deep in pollen, forcing French kisses

from flowers—but by dusk they are looping in zigzags,
gone off plumb, can’t find

their way home to the hive. Their thigh sacs are heavy
and ache to draw comb,

but some template’s been changed and not changed.
Each saturate drop that thickens the comb,

the pheromone sillage of the sultry Queen, steeped
in her Bergamot musk—

these things remain. What’s lost is just the way back
to it all, which train

Bee Fugue illustration by Lorna Stevens


or track through the blank blue sky. They’re fogged,
quagmired and frantic.

The hive must be starving, that is if it’s still there
and not like the others gone silent

and withered. Empty of worker, or queen or drone,
but still crammed with capped brood

and uneaten food. Something’s wrong, and it’s big,
like gravity or radar.

Even the robber bees are keeping their distance,
even carnivorous mites.

Nature’s imposed her stone quarantine. O, who will
pollinate the grain now,

protect us from our ruthless genes? This is what
extinction means.

Bee Fugue illustration by Lorna Stevens