by Stefanie Brook Trout
I’ve had bees on the brain lately. My own bees—the two colonies I established with a group of other first-time beekeepers last spring—but also the greater significance of bees for a sustainable future. I initially roved the web looking for examples where a better understanding of bees has inspired artists to promote constructive dialogue about our future relationships with bees. But I found Adam Johnson’s “Nirvana” so compelling that I broadened my theme to include a non-apian kind of drone just as relevant to our futures: remote-controlled pilotless aircrafts, specifically those used for domestic purposes. Because the only thing scarier than a future without bees is a future where bee colonies have been replaced by phalanxes of domestic drones. (Don’t worry about the tenuous connection—several studies have shown that cognitive dissonance promotes critical thinking.)
“Dead Bees Take Flight” by Sarah Hatton (from Honey Colony)
In this article, artist-apiarist Sarah Hatton discusses the inspiration for and process behind her “Bee Works,” visual responses to the decline of honeybee populations. Some people make lemonade out of lemons. Hatton makes important art out of the tragic loss of thousands of bees due to toxic agricultural chemicals and Colony Collapse Disorder.
“Droning” by J. D. Hager (from Bartleby Snopes)
In Hager’s short story, Vince’s life takes a nosedive after the wife he still loves leaves him for her Pilates instructor. Vince doesn’t think his life could be any worse until the precocious young neighbor boy shows up dressed like a bee and teaches Vince about the lifecycle of a drone. Sense of perspective achieved.
“The Amazon Primeinator” by Michael Maiello (from McSweeney’s)
In Maiello’s farcical short-short, my greatest fears about Amazon’s delivery drones are realized in a much more amusing way than my worst nightmares imagined thanks in no small part to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Nirvana” by Adam Johnson (from Esquire)
Johnson’s short story also envisions a future with domestic drones but with a much more solemn approach. The drones in “Nirvana” are a Pandora’s box. The legalization of drones for civilian use has ushered in a brave new world where there’s a “Google lane” on the expressway and the dead president counsels anxious citizens from a hologram. But a drone brings hope to at least one woman, and that hope makes the difference between her life and death.