That Which We Cannot Do


Nature teaches us a lot if we choose to listen. However, sometimes the lessons we learn from nature remind us that life is difficult, that nature truly does not, it cannot, care. The difficulty in learning this lesson is that as people we do care: we care about nature, we care about the things and people that we take responsibility for.

Two months ago, my bees were plentiful, filling three boxes. I noticed a problem (varroa mites) and treated them dutifully. I saw the results and the results looked good. I was hopeful and planned on having my bees overwinter to welcome them into the Spring. Nature had other plans, however. A few weeks ago I started noticing wasps coming and going, and noticed a drastic decrease in the number of bees that were swarming around the hive. Upon opening the hive I was horrified to find that most of the hive was empty. Rather than 30-40,000 bees I was met with 2-3000 bees!

I was and still am devastated. Questions run through my mind as I search for answers. The few remaining bees, including the queen, continue to hang on but there is not much hope for the winter. The twist in my gut continues even now, when I’m writing about this. I run through the possibilities and what I could have done differently, but the answers are the same.

I have read the books, the blogs, the forums and watched the videos. I have studied and went to classes; I have taken responsibility for my actions; I have dutifully fulfilled my obligations and still failure. I have been taught the lesson that nature teaches all things: 1) that life is difficult and that nature does not, and cannot care, 2) that there are often not answers to the questions that we ask; that there are not possible solutions to all possible scenarios. Perfection does not exist in nature not matter how much we as people care about nature and the things and people that we take responsibility for. Sometimes, there is no other way.

I am also reminded that no matter the twist that we feel in our gut, we must persevere; there is no quitting. It does not matter whether it was the wasps, varroa mites, colony collapse disorder, or my own doings, there must be a new hive next spring. Although we cannot know for sure why this must be, it must be. This is what makes us human: we must educate ourselves about the world around us, but we must also morally educate ourselves: we must educate ourselves about the world within us.

Life is a battle and even if there is no purpose for the dead and the dying, we must act as if there was. To accept the void as lifeless is to accept that there is no hope, but we are human; to accept that there is no hope is to give up the very thing that makes us human, and that, we cannot do.



    What was the point of emerging
    into frost, even if the sun grew hot

    on the hive, made your cubicle
    sweat and fooled us both? Regret

    is of no use against February
    and snow tomorrow will snap off

    your short life. I would have offered
    larkspur sweeter than words and

    warm currents rising off tarragon
    and pennyroyal, that poisonous lady

    over whose mint dome you’ll
    never hover. I could have given you

    a heaven of corn, a shady intersection,
    an aerodrome tested by a hundred

    winged creatures hungry or scared,
    alive and shimmering.

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