A Matter of Ownership

It was a muggy day when I first noticed something unusual at my house. I glimpsed it in a nook of the porch, but lazily dismissed it thinking it was nothing serious. There were some spotted stains on the tiles, too.

Several weeks later, I was startled to see that the spots had spread. I lifted my eyes along the drainpipe towards a dark corner.

Something in a row
something in a huddle:
strangely silent
nest of bees

Carefully opening the door, I slipped into the house, regretting my laziness. I googled how to get rid of bees. Then, I conferred with my wife and concluded the best way would be to call in an exterminator.

The next day, I searched to find a suitable professional, but before I called, remembered that the bees had never actually attacked us nor done any harm. It was in part sympathy for the bees and in part my laziness again that made me change my mind. So we opted to leave the nest as it was and see how things went.

A weary bee
basking on the porch -
an autumn field

It’s been one month now, but, so far, living together with the bees, sharing the space on both sides of the wall, is going well. Although their numbers have seemed to dwindle as the days get colder, I am happy with our decision.

We live in a new residential area, which once used to be grasses, bushes, and bamboo groves. Now it’s all houses, apartments, hospitals, malls, and roadways. It makes me sad to realize that we’ve been changing the rules and destroying the environment for our own benefit. Humans move and buy ownership of a house. Bees move and make their houses where they please. Mankind is just 1 of 1.75 million species cohabiting the Earth. Sometimes, I have to remind myself of this.

Square silhouettes
before an autumn sunset -
concrete field


8 responses to “A Matter of Ownership

  1. This haibun is by Akihiko Hayashi, a Hailstone who won an Honourable Mention in this year’s Genjuan International Haibun Contest. He is one of several new Icebox contributors who will hopefully be posting here in the next few months. Welcome, Akihiko, and thanks for your thought-provoking piece! The title hints at the underlying philosophical thrust of the piece, though the tone is nicely laid-back in a haiku style.

  2. An important piece, Akihiko Hayashi’s A Matter of Ownership reminded me of the award-winning Macedonian film, “Honeyland” (Sundance, 2019). It follows the real story of an old woman using traditional methods of wild bee-keeping in North Macedonia, and how conflict occurs between man and nature as a result of greed and lack of empathy. Well worth viewing.

  3. I wonder what kind of bees are the subject of this haibun. If they are big brown bees commonly known as wasps or hornets, I am afraid we cannot be friends for a long time. I remember the struggle I had with them when I was a boy. One summer, I noticed they had begun to make a small nest in the storage of my house. It grew bigger and bigger till it reached the size of a big balloon. I could no longer enter the storage for they threatened to attack me. I finally had to use an insecticide to exterminate them. When I saw their big nest. though, I noticed that it was a wonderful work of art for their nest was composed of layers and layers of spongy material, all in different colours. I was very sorry indeed that I had to destroy it!
    Sosui (Nobuyuki Yuasa)

    • Thank you for your comments. I suppose the bees belonged to a kind of paper wasp. Fortunately enough, the nest didn’t grow big and they were calm and quiet. Now, they have gone away as the days get colder.

      • We make a distinction between bees and wasps. Our reaction is different, the latter being much less desirable, as Nobuyuki has pointed out. If they were indeed paper wasps, the words ‘bee’ and ‘bees’ should really be changed to ‘wasp’ and ‘wasps’ throughout.

        • I’m sorry for my ignorance. I innocently used the word “bee” just because they were good-tempered and flitted around flowers. Now, though I cannot identify them as they have gone, I understand I should have a discerning eye and be more careful about usage of words. Thank you very much.

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