From the Arhcives: Apian Adventurer

[Author’s note: While I work at getting some clarification from officials and others on the numbers I have been writing about in recent issues, I thought I would offer something more lighthearted in this issue. The following column was originally published in 1999. I will leave it to those of you who know Andrew – who will turn 18 years of age in a few months – to determine the extent of my influence on his development.]

If my roommate and best buddy, Andrew, grows up to be considered rather odd, I will probably have to assume a significant portion of the responsibility. Since he is 5 1/2 years of age, Andrew still thinks that virtually everything I say is important, and I confess that I have relished this unwavering belief and interest in my observations, opinions, and mental prowess.

Andrew’s interest in my thoughts has, over the course of our relationship, led me to share and opine on a multitude of subjects, which, when he later shares with friends, provoke responses that are often perplexed. My case in point occurred this past week, when Andrew and I finally managed to get out of the house to head for his daycare.

As I prepared to back out the driveway after closing the garage door I noticed a large bumblebee on the driver’s side windshield wiper. “Hey, Andrew,” I said. “Look at the bee on the window.” Craning forward from his position on the passenger side of the back seat (his preferred position on sunny days in order to avoid direct sunlight in his eyes), he noted the bee with considerable interest.

Since the bee was unmoving, I assumed that he (she) had moved on to the great apiary in the sky. To my surprise, however, the bee remained steadfast on the windshield wiper as I accelerated down the highway. So, with Andrew still closely observing our hitchhiker, I did what any normal male would do in a similar situation: I turned on the wipers.

My assumption was that the carcass of the bee would be sent flying once the wipers began their motion. To my surprise (once again), however, the bee moved! “It’s alive!” exclaimed Andrew, causing me to flashback to any number of feature films I watched on “Creature Theatre” years ago.

Sure enough, our apian hitchhiker was very much alive. Out of deference to the bee’s noble efforts, I switched the wipers off as we passed Scandinavian Lodge. I was slowing my speed considerably now, which allowed the bee to maneuver himself (herself) to gain a better purchase on the wiper.

“What happens if he falls off?” Andrew inquired.

“Well,” I answered in my most thoughtful voice. “Even at this speed I figure that both his wings would be ripped off by the wind resistance. And then he would either splatter on a car behind us or go nipple surfing on asphalt.” I added the latter knowing full well that bees don’t have nipples – but I rather like the expression.

“Oh,” Andrew responded.

As we drove at 28 mph through downtown Sister Bay, the bee seemed to gather himself (or herself). Shifting position slightly on the wiper, the bee faced more directly forward and hunkered down (if a bee’s movement can truly be described using hunker). Watching this activity, I gained a significant degree of appreciation for this apian adventurer. This was no accidental stowaway; this bee was ready for the ride and to hell with speed and wind resistance.

“Andrew,” I said, “I think this bee is going all the way to Melanie’s house. You think he’s running away?”

“Maybe,” he responded, stretching as far forward between the front seats as his seatbelt would allow. “Maybe all his friends at our house are mean, or maybe they all moved away and left him alone.”

“That could be,” I answered. “Then again, maybe he just wants to see another part of the world.”


As we turned off the highway onto Wildwood, heading into the homestretch of our sojourn, I noticed that, though the bee was “hunkered down,” his (her) head was still partially above the windshield wiper. Thinking about this I began to wonder what the world must look like to a creature with complex eyes (bees, like flies, have literally hundreds of eyes on each side of their head) as the world went past at 48 miles per hour. And I began to realize that this bee was not merely taking a trip on the car with us…he (she) had to be virtually tripping. Contraband pollen be damned, this bee had discovered the ultimate insect high!

There was, of course, a significant drawback to the bee’s stereo-optic view of the world racing past: the sheer force of the wind had to be almost unbearable after a short time, to say nothing of the debris and particles that had to be impacting his (her) apian face. Which led me to offer the following opinion to Andrew.

“You know what has to be worst part of being a bee riding on a windshield, Andrew?”


“No eyelids,” I responded.

The bee was still clinging tightly when we arrived at Melanie’s. Exiting the car, both Andrew and I looked him (her) over carefully, but there was no sign of movement. When Andrew looked at me questioningly I responded simply, “Coma.” But when I returned to the car to head for work, the bee was gone, no doubt off to explore this new portion of the world while operating on a distinctly higher plain of consciousness.

Later that night, after I returned home from work and the three of us were recapping our days for one another, I asked Andrew if he had told Momma (Barb) about the bee on our windshield. Quite obviously, this information had not been shared because Andrew launched into an animated description of the morning’s events. The highlights (or lowlights, depending on your interpretation) were Andrew’s references to “wings ripped off,” “bee’s got no eyelids,” “coma,” and – of course – “nipple surfing.”

After Andrew left the room, Barb looked at me with a mixture of concern and amusement and said, questioningly, “Hon?”

“It’s a long story,” I said, hoping to table the subject.

“Oh, I have time,” she said. “Believe me. I have time.”