The robbers and killers came unheralded as if drawn in by an invisible cord . They arrived initially in ones and twos but soon it got around that there were easy pickings afoot for all with the speed and vigour to take them. Soon bodies were being carried dead or dying across the threshold. Murder was in the air,,, No question .The crisp armour was matchless in those circumstances and the sleek weaponry was fairly bloodied within minutes. They swarmed through the tunnels dragging the young from their cots, dead or dying already, before proceeding to tear down the cells at the furthest reaches in search of even sweeter booty.
I should have done something about it, of course.I should have had the prescience and care to have avoided this whole tawdry scene. There are precautions that can be taken. There are defences that can be employed. There is strength in numbers , for example .Closing down the door to the smallest entry -point might have slowed down the slaughter or possibly by combining forces earlier, a whole community could have been saved .Of course you always think there will be time to do this and that .You think you can always put the house in order before it is too late. It is always too late.Always.
I had noticed a few invaders earlier in the day but paid little heed . There was some frantic activity but then that’s hardly unusual around the beginning of August .It is a time for aggression in the life of a wasp. They become hungrier . The bees on the other hand would never bother with them . They would barely register at all unless they were on the attack. They’d be, as invisible as the wind. Their daily lives are too busy for that .With the honeybees , it is work , work, work until there is no more work left in their tired ,shattered little bodies.Flying for miles daily in all sorts of weather , surviving the odd downpour or possibly not; dodging the attention of any predatory bird to bring home the sweet nectar for the honey store or the pollen crushed into the little baskets on their back legs like swollen yellow onions. The very protein and bread of life for the next generation.
It had been in my vague plans to eventually combine this weak hive with a stronger one at the end of the summer. That old trick of joining the two brood bodies using a sheet of newspaper..It had been a slow grower, that nucleus hive. . It wasn’t making a lot of progress .The queen may have been weak or unmated .She may have sustained an injury or wasn’t laying properly . I couldn’t put my finger on the problem but I had intended to sort something out….later. The chance never came .By the time i realised that the wasps were working their murderous plan it was too late to save that hive . They had wreaked such havoc that there was virtually no life left within.I was down one hive with only a few weeks left of the season.The weather wasn’t improving much either. August has been a poor one for bees in Ireland this year .They haven’t got an easy life here what with the dearth and the death of wildflowers in the overfarmed fields and the incessant thrashing rain. .
Nature …red in tooth and claw…broken wings and limbs scattered across the lawn like gossamer bones….