Max had left his hive plenty of honey to survive the winter. Ever since he’d taken up beekeeping in his backyard, he’d been very careful to leave his collaborators enough to live on. They happily made more than they needed, and he happily enjoyed the fruits of their labor as gently as he could, proudly presenting full-comb honey in mason jars as gifts to friends and leaving them as tips at bars.

But when he had checked the hive after the cold snap, Max had found the colony dead to a one, frozen to death huddled in a corner. It had been the worst cold in five years, ten to twenty degrees below zero and twenty to thirty degrees colder than usual. But they’d had plenty of honey, because he’d left it to them. Max’s bees had died less than a foot away from their own amber salvation.

There were plenty of bee sites online that detailed how this could happen; Max read about how the slowly moving mass of bees could accidentally move away from its food source and starve. But still, he blamed himself, and regretted not checking the hive more frequently.

Initially, he had planned to empty the hive out and start anew with more bees, but instead the dead frame sat in the bed of his truck for weeks–a constant rear-view reminder of Max’s sad loss.

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