Hives Corner

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It was an early Wednesday morning when the aroma of the freshly brewed espresso by the semi - automatic Gaggia Classic woke Edward Blinkstone - a retired quantum physicist and hobby apiarist – up from a nightmarish dream, involving his favorite pets-turned-study-objects, the honey bees. Not that he remembered particular details about it, just the sentiment of an imminent danger which have tied a perfection knot in his stomach.

Immediately Edward checked whether everything appeared normal on the live streaming Bee Cams and as nothing extraordinary spiked his interest, he’s spent the better part of the morning helping Joy – his wife of 42 years - with her horticulture projects in the garden. Although neither of them could pinpoint a reason, there was something off in the garden and following her play-instincts of a kindergarten teacher, Joy spontaneously planned a field trip to the hives corner in the Quantum Forest by packing their lunches.

The Quantum Forest, which offered labyrinths of sunny patches hidden among webs of trees and bushes, bordered their property from the north-west and a good-45-minutes-walk from their home was the hives corner, where their hives were based.

“Do you sense the bosonic nature of the Forest – each tree identical to the others, like an army of clones?” – Edward pointed out to Joy while they walked down the winding path, as if for a first time they were seeing the surrounding landscape. The deeper engulfed into the Forest they were, the more lost and confused they felt, despite they’ve known its topography from the inside out for years.

Joy nodded in agreement, although her attention was focused more on sounds – the symphonies of chirps and cheeps, caws and twitters, warbles and coos, cries and chatters which birds made have always fascinated her.

“Quite fermionic are the songs” - she whispered with a smile, as from countless dinner parties hosted over the years for Edward’s friends and colleagues she learned to understand his professional vocabulary - “but there’s no buzz in the air and no bees are in sight.”

“I’ve seen the bees this morning on the Bee Cams, all seemed normal.” – Edward confidently replied, although he had no exact recollection of seeing bees in the Forest. Nevertheless, he checked the Bee Cam streaming app again and there they were, flying in and out of their home, yet, they weren’t foraging for food - at least not in the forest’s quarters which Edward and Joy have crossed so far.

Perplexity grew as they approached the hives corner - with each step the couple was making they were hunting for hints for bees, but none were present. At last, as they were crossing a patch of white clovers, they heard the soothing buzz, but saw nothing – as if invisible bees have been sucking on nectar. Joy’s eyes were wide open in dismay as then she saw the inexplicable – a bee flickering on the clover’s blossom, appearing and disappearing, as if it had been teleported from someplace, but the landing coordinates were not exact, or the innate energy was not sufficient for its complete materialization.

Edward’s attempt to capture the bee made it charge its stinger at his hand, but as it was threateningly approaching his finger, it disappeared. For a split second, he was expecting some invisible sting to pierce his skin, but there was none.

“This makes no sense - are they visible or invisible or what?” - bewildered and flabbergasted, Joy was blinking in disbelief.

“No idea”, said Edward, “but from what I see, there are two options: either the bees are real, or the bees are virtual, but we can still hear the buzz from their wingbeats”.

As he was telling Joy this, the bee has materialized once again and stung him painfully, so a third option was added immediately to the mix – “Or the bees are virtual, but we can hear them buzz and feel their painful stings. Are they in a permanent kamikaze state in all possible dimensions, overcoming the invisibility barrier??” – and as he was murmuring that, Edward instantly got what had to be done.

“We must run to the hives and observe the queens, before the hive consciousness perceives and executes on this third option. We must lock the colonies in real states and make the bees choose quantum suicide in virtual state, and not vice versa. There are only two possibilities: yes or no. Yes, to keep all the bees’ fluctuations real and visible. Yes, to observing their queens. Yes, to quantum suicide in virtual states. Yes, to our survival. Run, Joy, run for your life” – Edward was screaming at Joy as he was dashing into the hives’ direction.

But as they rushed, qubits spread within a colony and between colonies from the hive consciousness, and visible and invisible bees begun charging and stinging them with excruciating precision in this blitzkrieg. Escaping from the well-coordinated army seemed an impossible mission, especially as Joy and Edward were running towards the hives. Only after each of the sovereign’s position were fixes and determined by the act of observation and the qubits for that entanglement were distributed among the colonies, then the bee’s army would seize the attack on them and surrender, hence, the observation was the Blinkstones only hope and strategy for seizing control over the bees’ dual nature.

Reaching the hives corner, Edward and Joy urgently opened the hives, hastily inspected the chambers and with each queen observation, her swarm was reality - fixed and locked into visibility state, causing multiple quantum suicides in some invisible continuum, and lots of disarmed soldiers dead by the hives.

Although pain, swell and itching bee stingers covered every square inch of Joy and Edward’s bodies, they were ecstatic to be back to their normal, regular lives and limited reality of retired provincial life. Yet, Edward couldn't but wonder, whether the bees’ appearance-and-disappearance was entangled with his nightmarish dream? Or had it been the dream all along?