Our bees got slaughtered.

We started a hive in the backyard last spring. It had problems and never really got going. Bottom line, it was a weak colony. Then we made a rookie mistake. We spilled sugar water.

Technically, I did. But this is a team effort. My wife and I share the victories and defeats. We spilled sugar water on the hive and didn’t think anything of it. The next morning, the bees were swarming.

They were active. Like super active. Usually they’re only like this when they’re returning with pollen before sunset. Now it was all day. And there seemed to be more of them. A lot more. And there was fighting–super aggressive, dead bees on the ground fighting.

Here’s what happened.

It’s autumn. Flowers are folding and pollen is scarce. But winter is coming. Bees store honey to make it through winter. Bees also take it from other bees. Especially weaker colonies. So essentially what we did was invite another colony to annihilate ours. That’s exactly what we did.

They slaughtered their own kind–their own species–stole their honey and drank their sugar water and that’s it. It’s like Vikings in the insect world flying in on their boats and just taking shit. Total annihilation. Nature is to the goddamn point. No police, no lawyers or laws or any bullshit. Kill and survive. Do what it takes. Sucks to be you.

I win. You lose.

We’re out of that food chain. I don’t think we’re necessarily kinder than nature, perhaps our cruelty is more sophisticated and, in that case, more devious. I mean, bees just take honey because they want it and need it. They only slaughter their own kind because they’re in the way. They don’t pretend to be your friend, they don’t gloat or dance on the corpses of little dead bees. They just do it.

So what do bees love?

My wife and I have been married 26 years this week. We started out together relatively young and made it this far. A lot of that is luck–luck in the sense that we’re both very sincere in making our relationship work. I’d say we love each other, in the traditional sense that word is used. We say it all the time.

But I’m not sure what love is, exactly.

Is it being physically attracted to each other? Is it liking the same things? God, both of those help. I mean, when we’re into the same things, in particularly each other, oxytocin is a powerful drug. But then we aren’t always on the same page. So then what, we love each other less? We like each other less?

What does like have to do with love?

We got lucky. We matched up early on when we didn’t know shit about ourselves or the world just that we liked how it felt when we smashed our faces together in the back seat. High on oxytocin, we kept the dance going. Then life got real, we didn’t always get what we wanted, one of us would sacrifice something for the other and vice verse, sometimes resentments would linger, we went through some real real shit, sought counselling, learned to meditate, had kids, a couple of dogs and here we still are.

It’s 30 years.

Marriage, I think, is a great vehicle for personal and spiritual growth. It pushes buttons, forces us into corners, keeps us from holing up in a bachelor pad with an Xbox and a cooler of tall boys. Always on our toes. And sometimes growth means ending a relationship. A friend once said divorce was not an option for his wife and him. I said divorce always has to be on the table. Choose it or don’t. This ain’t the Great Depression. No one is trapped.

I don’t know what love is. I know bees love honey. I mean, they kill for it so they must. I know I’m in very deep like with my wife. I like her company, the way she laughs, her compassion and sincerity. We give each other room to screw up, to reflect, to grow and to come back to the table. That’s the love part.

Plus she’s hot.

I started writing this thinking she would read it and it might get me laid. But then I read through it and that’s probably not going to happen. The bees are dead and I don’t know what this is. I just know I love her. And hope keep dancing.