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TMFFC – SomethingPunk – Sting

4 August 2013 6 Comments

I had so much fun with last week’s challenge that I returned to Terrible Minds and nabbed this week’s too.

I present to you – HoneyPunk, in the form of a flash piece titled Sting. Hopefully you’ll find it as sweet as my bee-girl did. <|;^)

by Jodi Lee
© 2013 All Rights Reserved
Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge – SomethingPunk

In 2013, Grant Harper King, Inc. was granted a stay of judgment pending appeal in a criminal negligence case brought against them by the members of Stepelli Apiarists International.

Grant Harper King spokesman, Anton Mos, famous bio-chem engineer and current lab-darling at GHK headquarters, stated that the lawsuit was frivolous, and that GHK chemicals, bio-engineered crops, and indeed, staff, were not responsible for colony collapse syndrome. He went on to say that perhaps GHK should counter-sue on behalf of all farmers using their seed stock, for the lack of proper pollination attention given to their crops.

By 2018, it is estimated that there were fewer than 35 million hives remaining in North America, and less than half that in Europe. Asia, Africa and Australia together totaled just over 25 million.

According to records dated December 2021, the last in the Library of Congress archives, estimates listed no more than 20 million hives globally.

John Peltser pulled his cover-alls up over his jeans, tied the arms around his waist, grabbed his veil and gloves, and headed down to the meadow at the bottom of the hollow. He and his staff had set up eighteen small hives, six per row, where five different fields edged a clearing. It had been slow work, getting these hives set up. Since it had been made illegal for non-government, non-GHK approved apiaries, anyone caught with even one hive would be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to at least a year in prison. No slap on the wrist for first offenders, no warnings.

GHK had genetically engineered their own bees, smaller, low-producing, and with a sting that could kill. Almost 70% of the population of the world was allergic to their stings. John was in the happy 30% that were not. At least, he wasn’t allergic anymore; he’d nearly died the first time one of the tiny stingers had pierced his skin. Quick thinking by one of his staff had saved his life. Now he carried an Epi-Pen just in case, but in the five times he’d been stung since then, each reaction was progressively less severe.

GHK had intended on making the populace afraid of bees. For the most part, their plan worked, but for some, it made them fight back, albeit quietly, by finding and raising non-GHK honey bees.

The government would be all over him, if they knew about his operation, which is why the staff had painted the supers in camouflaging colors, rather than the historic bright whites, yellows, and blues. From the road, they were invisible. From the air, nearly so. If the sun was shining just right, it reflected a bit from the tops of the hives, but they’d be fixing that today.

He’d finally found a camo-net that could cover the area and not disturb the bees as they went about their business.

His staff met him in the meadow, having been out there early to mow around the hives and get the straps and poles ready for the net. As John approached the hives, he shrugged the top of his cover-alls over his shoulders, pulled the veil over his head, and zipped up. He chuckled as he glanced at everyone gathered – even they were camouflaged. He’d had several cover-alls made of camouflage material, even the veils. The only white left to worry about was the heavy canvas of the elbow-length gloves. They’d deal with that another time, though. Today was for getting the net up and checking the hives.

Although dodging the government was foremost in his mind, honey production was always a close second. Liquid gold, it had become nearly as pricey as the actual precious metal. One ounce of non-genetically-modified honey had sold at an auction recently for five thousand dollars. Just one ounce.

John estimated his hives would pull in 900 pounds if all went well. His grandfather had told him of honey pulls that ran in the tens of thousands of pounds, but that was pre-GHK. Now, his bees would have to fight off not only disease caused by GHK toxins but also the genetically-engineered bees themselves. Things would be tough for these little guys, but that’s why he and his family had spent the last five years carefully selecting and breeding their own unique line.

His bees were tough.

By noon, they’d strung the net and had stopped for lunch. No one minded the bees buzzing by their heads, crawling over their legs or shoulders. They were happy bees, rarely stinging even when their hives were checked, they’d bred the viciousness from them. There were only two times they’d became aggressive; the first was when a swarm of GHK pollinators had attempted to take over the first hive stack.

John had found thousands of dead bees the next morning. Mostly the tiny GHK bees, but some of his. His queen and the bulk of the workers and drones were fine though, and life went on.

The last time they’d become aggressive was two weeks ago, and the main reason John had stepped up the pace to hide the operation. He glanced over to the small clump of trees where it appeared a man was sitting, propped against the trunk of an old oak. If John looked closely, he’d see that the stranger’s face was still swollen, only now it would be from decay and not the hundreds of stings.

GHK should never have sent an investigator to snoop around his fields. He’d warned them off before, telling them he refused to grow their FrankenCorn. They’d keep sending snoops out though, and soon enough they’d come across his little honey operation again.

And they’d lose.

All in all, he was happy, even giddy in the irony, with his cross-breeding of European honey bees and Japanese giant hornets. A large, honey-producing bee that not only pollinates but can sting And sting, and sting…

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