The worker honeybee isn’t defenseless like the drone. It is given a purpose greater than mating with the queen. The drone is defenseless, talentless, really. It lives, fucks, and dies. Literally.
But the worker is given a whole world of possibilities. It builds, it pollinates, it loves, and for six long weeks it can choose any flower it desires, if it’ll have her (because, after all, all worker bees are strong women).
As part of a casted colony, the worker bee knows that each day will be somewhat like the last. The difference, however, is in the flowers. Every flower is different. With so many options, the danger of monotony seems less fierce. They have a purpose. Like dutiful daughters of Aeolus, they fly from their home and return, back and forth, with Sisyphus’ resolution.
But does the honeybee ever wonder if it is settling? With six weeks to live, does it start out thinking that it will find the most vibrant, exotic flower to pollinate?
In the hive, the worker dreams of the outside and decides what kind of bee it will be, until it is old enough to begin becoming it.
Once outside, finding the right flower is slightly more difficult than it thought. Opportunities present themselves, but they aren’t the right opportunity. But it’s still early. She’s young. She’ll eventually find what she’s looking for, she hopes.
Does it convince itself that it is only working its way up to the flower with the weedy in betweens?
“Everyone has to start somewhere,” the bee repeats to itself as it ventures from the hive, day after day, just to return with mediocre-flower pollen which, when it comes down to it, gets the job done. But the worker knows that it isn’t the right pollen, not the kind it envisioned collecting. She still has time to become herself. For now, this pollen will do.
After three weeks the worker bee begins panicking. Where is her flower, and why hasn’t she found it? Half of her life has been spent flying from the hive to the field, dodging feet and webs, protecting the one sting she can threaten but will never use. Where has the time gone? Why did she let herself lose sight of what was important? Sure, she’s pollinated some nice flowers in her day, but she has yet to find the flower, the flower she promised herself she’d find when she was just a young honey back in the hive. Some of the younger workers find her hysterical search laughable. “If she hasn’t found it yet, she never will,” they whisper, they who secretly know that each of their flowers is more real than this grandma’s pipedream. She is particularly sensitive to this sort of behind-her-back buzzing, so she decides that she must find it, if it kills her. Her flower must be out there.
By week five, she’s resigned to the flowers she has already pollinated. Who did she think she was anyway? Greater bees than she have settled for less. She will die in a week or so, but it’s ok. . She’s known all along. The queen is alive, and she’s done what is expected.
Unlike the drones that either die after impregnating the queen or are forced out of the hive come fall (they are considered useless at this point by the other bees and are sometimes dragged from the hive), the workers die with little to no ceremony. Like the drones, they are replaced again and again. In the spring, they will leave the hive and look for their flowers.