The first thing they’d done was contact the local witch, but once the body had been taken care of, they walked into the garden and sat down by the hives. They didn’t talk at first, afraid that if they opened their mouth then they’d never stop sobbing, but when they were able to speak, they knocked on top of the hives and addressed the bees. It was the proper thing to do.

“Dad’s gone. About an hour ago,” they said. They paused to fight back the lump in their throat. “It was his heart that went. Well, actually that went when Pa died, but still.” They wiped their eyes. “I know it’s just me now, but I hope you all stay. I’ll do my best to take care of you.”

They listened to the gentle buzzing around them. Pa always said he could tell each bee apart by the sound of its buzz, and had a name for all of them. Dad would laugh at this, saying it was silly, but when he bought a new hive a few years ago, he stayed up all night think up new names. He’d only managed to come up with a few dozen, and he ended up falling asleep at the kitchen table.

They sat there by the hives, overcome by memories, and slowly began telling stories of their fathers, haltingly at first, frequently interrupted by sobs and tears. The bees floated lazily above, listening. They remembered it all.