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The story of the incredible, if somewhat brief, life of Jim the Bee

When it came to animals, my father was often one to bring home the unexpected. An intoxicating prospect for a family of five children, although it didn’t always have a happy ending. The baby chicks at Easter probably wasn’t well thought out. My youngest sister “liked to pet soft things”. Think Lennie in “Of Mice and Men”.

One summer day, Dad came home with a bee sitting on a popsicle stick covered with honey. And the neighborhood was giddy with excitement. Kids turned out in droves. Yes, in the 1950s and early ’60s there were suburban neighborhoods filled with kids. 

“Will he sting me?” My father had assured us that he was a male bee, a drone, that couldn’t sting. “What’s his name?” From a child’s perspective, all animals, no matter where they landed on the food chain, needed and deserved a name. And my father was right there with an answer, although I think he made it up on the spot. “His name is Jim.”

Everyone was amazed as we paraded Jim around. “Mom, he’s a bee that doesn’t sting, and his name is Jim,” I heard more than once. A live bee that you could hold in your hand (sort of). Imagine that! And not an EpiPen in sight. 

On that day, we were the most popular kids in the neighborhood, basking in Jim’s honey-glow. “Maybe Jim could spend tomorrow at my house.” Not surprisingly, everyone had a suggestion for Jim’s future. As children will do, we went to bed that night secure in the knowledge that we controlled Jim’s fate.

The next morning, I looked at the nightstand and Jim was gone. Still on his popsicle stick but no longer among the living. We had him for only one day.

But it was one of the best days.

 

M. A. Duca is a resident of Twin Lakes narrowly focused on everyday life.