The Bee’s Knees

By Christina Stephens

When Secretary of State Hilary Clinton toured Malawi earlier this August, I bet she never expected such a send-off from the country’s bee population.

A swarm of bees surrounded the airport housing Clinton, her security team, Malawians, and Americans as she tried to depart the country. The bees covered the wings of her private jet and led to a momentary panic. Fortunately, Clinton and her team avoided any stings and swiftly departed the area.

This most recent buzz, pardon the pun, got me thinking about politics and animals. Do animals have their own political agenda? Were the bees staging their own political coup? Though it seems silly, animals have been the subject of numerous political acts and bills throughout political history. Recently, the Great Ape Protection and Savings Act sought to prohibit invasive research on great apes in the United States. Owning pit bulls is illegal in many U.S. cities. Is the type of agency involved in staging a political protest really too fantastical to imagine?

Natasha, a female chimpanzee in Uganda, scored off the charts in cognitive and intelligence tests, leading scientists to believe that genius isn’t solely anthropocentric; it exists in great ape populations. So, Natasha is perhaps a genius chimpanzee, and bees create a stir at political events. Animals are showcasing their agency in surprisingly new ways. Who’s to say what they’ll do next?

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