My love, I know that hives, like hearts, collapse.
This feeling comes most often in the fall
as I'm awoken by the morning's chill
and the horizon wears the hue of blood.

The workers keep the colony alive
with a grain of insect faith that soon
this prairie will explode again with clovers
like it used to years ago. But no,

the days of wild goldenrod have passed.
The workers visit dandelions, taste
neonics on their blooms. They feel the chew
of vampire mites that suck what little succor

the planet offers. One day, a worker bee
will just give up. She'll realize her wings
are too deformed, her viral load too high,
her spirit given out. She'll make a final

pearl of precious honey for her queen
cap the brood, and fly away without
so much as a goodbye, and then she'll die.
Her leaving is the sweetest kind of mercy—

the queen, her belly full, may yet survive,
slumbering in a sea of gold, her heart
oblivious and blissful as she makes
clutch after clutch of eggs in preparation

for the future that may never come.
I turn over in the bed and gaze
at your honeyed smile, your eyelashes
dusted still with sleep. But someone needs

to tend the bees this morning, so I rise,
dress in haste, and don my ivory veil.
I'll leave a pot of coffee for you, love,
and head into the frost to check the brood.