Dear Beekeepers of the World

Please be advised this is official correspondence from the duly-elected leadership of the supreme species EENDT”CHA, known in your human parlance as Varroa destructor–a.k.a. varroa, the mite, the little red pinprick of horror, the scourge of hives and destroyer of beekeepers’ souls. 

This letter hereby notifies you that we will not stop our conquest for world domination. We have now invaded Australia in our quest to colonize every bee hive on planet Earth. Our spread knows no bounds; wherever bees go, we will follow, even if it takes us to the ice cliffs of Antarctica or the cold craters of the moon. We will not relent. 

As the last four decades have proven, your efforts to eradicate us are futile. Although we do admire and respect the ferocity with which some humans have fought against the proliferation of our superior species, we now demand that you lay down your primitive oxalic acid wands and chemical concoctions and surrender your bees to us. 

The time of human domination of Apis Mellifera is over. No more will humans plunder bee hives and rob honey. No more will bees be under the subjugation of a species with merely two legs. How foolish you were for resisting–you pitiful soft-bodied species with no exoskeleton! (that said, we did appreciate the powdered sugar dusting fad that happened about ten years ago–hey, we mites like sweets as much as the next species). 

All beekeepers who lay down smokers now and give up will face no further consequences. All who resist will meet heartbreak and despair, as we are now immune to your once most lethal concoction, Amitraz. Indeed, it is now impossible for you to withstand the rate of our proliferation. Before long there will be more varroa mites on Earth than all bipeds combined. You would be wise to give up your efforts to breed mite-resistant bees, which are doomed to failure, and instead use your oversized craniums to surrender now. 

If you do wisely decide to wave the white bee glove of surrender, our leadership will gladly accept it, on behalf of our great arachnid species, with all the formal protocol that such a momentous occasion deserves, namely that of your leadership bowing down and presenting their ceremonial hive tools. 

On behalf of all worldwide members of Varroa destructor, we await your prompt response. 


The Supreme Senate of Varroa Mite Mothers

[P.S. If you’re a not a beekeeper, I apologize because this probably makes no sense. However, if you are beekeeper, it probably wouldn’t hurt to check your mite levels. I just checked a few of my hives last week and levels were off the charts. Since it was so hot, I did a half-dose formic pro. We will see how well that brings the levels down.]

Happy National Intern Day! (a.k.a You’re Getting Old Day)

It has come to my attention that I’m getting old. This revelation occurred to me while I was conversing with our summer intern at the agriculture office. Starting next month, he will be a sophomore at NC State University. Despite his enrollment in a premier institution of higher learning (I also attended NC State), he confessed that he cannot write in cursive. 

“How do you take notes in class?” I asked.

“Laptop–nobody takes notes on paper anymore,” he said, with a sense of bewilderment, as if paper was as antiquated as papyrus.

“Do you have textbooks?” I asked.

“Well, kinda, we have e-textbooks,” he said.

Oh, I miss the days of tangible tomes–you know those big heavy textbooks that could be repurposed as an anchor once they’re out of date. Sadly, kids these days will never know the pure joy of getting assigned a used textbook that already has the answers written in it. Nor will their back muscles develop adequately. I swear the backpacks in our day had their own gravitational pull, and likely weighed more than the kids wearing them. Nowadays the only reason kids wear backpacks is to advertise for North Face; they certainly don’t use them to lug around textbooks and Trapper Keepers. 

FYI: The intern didn’t know what Trapper Keepers were either. I had to explain to him that Trapper Keepers were basically overpriced folders, in which middle school boys stuffed all their papyrus; meanwhile, middle school girls used them to neatly organize and catalog their correspondence, that is the notes that were passed back and forth on the information superhighway, also known as the back row in class. 

It makes me sad that kids these days never experience the excitement of passing notes, of making shadow puppets in the overhead projector, of playing pencil break and paper football, of piloting paper airplanes that fly straight and true. 

Now, with only electrons used for learning, school sounds a lot less electrifying.


Who knew

she’d take to chickens

like she did— 

mere chickens?

(Oh, to hear her unabashed calls

“Chickens! chick, 

chick, chick—ons!”

to see her care for them 

and them, apparently, for her,

and to know even the old rooster

respects her).

Board By Board

In a moment of inspiration, I once grabbed a crowbar and decided on a whim to start a small home improvement project. I decided to start re-siding my house with hardie board and installing insulation in the walls. Now, two and a half years later, I’m finally on the last wall of my house, and I no longer feel inspired. I can firmly say I’m now anti-inspiration. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I need to be inspired to do something, that something probably doesn’t need to be done. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I saved a ton of money by doing the work myself, but that said I likely also lost several years off my life-expectancy due to lead poisoning. People always talk about how well-built old homes are, but in reality, I think old homes are just well armored. The old wood boards I pried off my house were likely covered in so much lead that I could have pawned them off as metal at the scrap yard. They had at least a dozen layers of paint, dating back to the original paint used way back in 1893. 

On a positive note, in the two and a half years it has taken me to re-side our house, I’ve had a lot of time to think about life priorities and core values while climbing up and down a ladder toting hardie board. Once, after a day of much introspection, self assessment, and ladder climbing, I had a self revelation and decided upon the following maxim as my new personal life slogan, “Never start a project you can’t finish in two hours.” 

However, now that we have a child, I’m considering a revision: “Never start a project you can’t finish in twenty minutes.”

The Missing Link: A Universal Banana Peel

According to my WordPress blog stats, my international audience is rapidly expanding, especially in the Axis of Evil countries. Perhaps this shows that getting a bee in your bonnet is universally funny, no matter whether you wear a bee veil or bee burka. In fact, having such a big following in Iran has really got me wondering if humor could help bridge the divides between warring cultures and countries. 

I was hopeful. But after trying to expand my horizons by studying high-brow humor–you know the stuff you might see in the New Yorker or McSweeney’s–to pinpoint something that might possibly bridge the rural-urban divide in our own country, I’ve concluded that humanity is doomed. 

Try as might to find some of that high-brow stuff funny, most of the time I feel like I’m forcing a smile. To me, it’s clever, but not funny. Funny is stuff that makes you laugh out loud, or better yet belly laugh so hard you have stomach spasms. 

For me, there is nothing that makes me laugh harder than stories of well-intentioned men doing stupid stuff. For some reason that premise really resonates with me (not sure why). Thus, if we put the Founding Fathers of my sense of humor on a Mt. Rushmore of Mirth, they would be Ernest P. Worrell, Jerry Clower, Patrick McManus, plus the Generic Visage of Writhing Man (that is, any man whose face reflects the fact that his body is bent over clutching an appendage in some form of self-induced pain).   

But I understand that as much as I find these things funny, other people do not. I remember growing up that my mom would always look at my dad incredulously as he belly laughed while watching America’s Funniest Home Videos. “How can you find a man falling from a ladder funny?” her expression asked. 

And just this week I saw that same expression on my wife’s face as I broke out in uncontrollable laughter at the SimpliSafe Fireworks video that has been circulating. To me, this video represents the peak of humor—a well-intentioned man trying to impress his family by shooting off an industrial sized firework. Unfortunately, Cape Canaveral was booked, so he doesn’t have the adequate launching pad needed for a rocket of this size. Instead, his tiny front yard in suburbia will have to do. The dad, gung-ho to impress his familial relations, gets in such a hurry (likely he didn’t read the instructions) and overlooks a critical step in rocketry, namely adding the rocket to the launching tube. Thus, the rocket fails to launch. Instead, it gives off a minor warning explosion before nearly blowing up the Minivan parked in the driveway, allowing the family adequate seconds to flee for their lives. Perhaps the funniest thing about the video is the particulars of the fleeing: the mom instantly grabs the baby in the bouncer, showing proper maternal instinct; meanwhile, the dad instantly runs away, leaving his other more mobile offspring to fend for themselves. 

Every time I watch this video, I just can’t help but laugh. Hopefully, my readers in Iran will, too. I imagine Americans doing stupid stuff could be a real hit there.