Sinister (the stalking of a honeybee)

While exploring the garden today with an assortment of macro lenses, a tiny scene of disproportionately unsettling horror caught my attention. It started innocently enough when a honeybee got ensnared in a small shred of abandoned web. As I considered whether to attempt a rescue operation to free the writhing creature or wait to see if he could vibrate free on this own, a shocking event unfolded right before my very eyes. A tiny sheet-web spider emerged from inside a nearby flower on the leucadendron plant — the stage upon which this most theatrical scene was playing out. No sooner could I process what was about to happen, when the spider went to work stalking the honeybee and shooting out thread from her spinnerets to further immobilize her prey.

I had miscalculated that this was an abandoned web. Suddenly, I was witnessing a coup devised by the clever arachnid who had left a silken trip line on the disheveled web to signal herself deep within the flower. As painful as it was for me to avoid intervention, I surprised myself when I turned my camera on the carnage. These two tiny creatures, the honeybee almost twice the size of the spider, appeared gigantic in my lens. It was like sitting ringside to a boxing match — with every punch and injury to the poor honeybee inflicted directly on me. At one point (first photo), the honeybee extended his proboscis as though screaming in agony. It took all the courage I could muster to continue photographing the harrowing details, including the spider taking the mummified honeybee into her fangs and administering a lethal injection (second photo).

As the grand finale, the tiny spider pushed, pulled, rolled, and finally, carried the corpse, which had to be at least twice her bodyweight, back to the flower (last photo). Nothing could deter her from her mission. Not me with my giant camera eye and flash, nor the two tiny gnats who rode aboard the corpse all the way to its final destination. And with one last push, the spider disappeared inside the flower along with the corpse, leaving not a single trace of the sinister “crime” that had just transpired.

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