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Columns

Oh my Gawd I Got a Bee

By Mireya Sánchez-Maes, Contributing Opinion Writer
Mireya Sánchez-Maes ’24 is a joint concentrator in English and Theater, Dance, and Media in Currier House. Her column “Insect Insights” appears on alternate Wednesdays.

It’s the last day of classes, our board plus has finally started to run out, and we’ve reached that special time of year when everyone is really nice to Eliot students in the hopes of getting invited to Fête. But as the semester winds down, I can’t help but notice the increasing number of slanderous whispers making their way through these hallowed halls. Harmful allegations are being levied against some of the most integral and long-established members of the Harvard community, and it’s high time we talked about it. So here it goes.

Why is everyone hating on bees?

The rebukes are relentless. At every turn, students viciously proclaim, “these bees are killing me,” and “omg for real, this bee ruined my GPA,” and “I hate bees.” The bullying has to end, and as Harvard’s premier entomological columnist, I have a unique responsibility to correct these defamatory rumors. So here’s the truth. Bees are not murderous villains sent to destroy your GPA. They’re winged insects, tired of being misunderstood.

And to all you first years who still aren’t on board – I get it. Bees are scary, especially if you’ve never seen one before! But consider this a warning. Massachusetts is home to a large and diverse bee population, so before the semester ends, it’s highly likely that a significant number of these creatures will find a permanent home on many Harvard transcripts.

So if you happen to meet your first bee this semester, don’t despair. There’s nothing inherently bad about them. In fact, bees are a natural part of college environments and are known to play an essential role in an organism’s growth! It’s only in mistaking these bees for a representation of our worth that we come into any real harm. (But don’t worry; even if your bee stings, the pain usually subsides within a day or two.)

Contrary to popular belief, bees don’t magically appear at the end of the semester – they take time to grow and develop. So if it looks like a bee is creeping onto your transcript, it probably started developing a long time ago. Think back to the beginning of the semester. Did you skip lecture because the five-minute walk was “too far?” Did you copy pset answers from your unsuspecting lab partner? Did you foolishly assume that Gradescope deadlines were “suggestions?” If so, your bee has been a long time coming. (That’s what happens when you wing it!) But let me be clear, the issue here lies not with the bee, but with the cavalier lack of effort that went into it.

Although bees have a bad reputation on campus, there’s nothing inherently wrong with them! In fact, many individuals perform hours upon hours of labor in the hopes that they might be lucky enough to successfully obtain some. The scientific community calls these individuals “beekeepers.” Here at Harvard, we call them “chemistry majors.” As these students know, bees are often born from the hard work of a difficult semester. So if you suspect a bee might take residence on your transcript and you’re not sure how to feel about it, ask yourself these questions: did you “give it your all” this semester? Did you devote yourself to learning and growth? Were you academically challenged? If so, then celebrate your bee! You worked hard for it, and its honey should be delicious. But if you were like,“Eh, Harvard has grade inflation so I don’t need to do the assigned reading. Let’s go play beer pong.” Then go stand in the corner and think about what you’ve done.

Stepping away from the bee metaphor for a moment, I think it’s prudent to mention that grades are a poor indicator of academic growth to begin with. If you worked as hard as you possibly can and earned a Bee, then congrats! You should feel proud of your personal growth and hard work. Conversely, if you got a 4.0 GPA, but didn’t learn anything or cheated your way into it, then the accomplishment is empty. True learning is about personal growth, and grades can be misleading.

Now coming back to the bee metaphor, there’s one more thing I need to address. It is no secret that Bees are an endangered species. Bees are so endangered, in fact, that some people claim it’s nearly impossible to earn one on Harvard’s campus, what with all the problematic inflation. On behalf of all Harvard students, I want to say that I wholeheartedly agree. Harvard needs to do everything it can to increase the number of Bees on campus. Just, you know, not to me. Never to me. Bee to everyone else, yes.


Mireya Sánchez-Maes ’24 is a joint concentrator in English and Theater, Dance, and Media in Currier House. Her column “Insect Insights” appears on alternate Wednesdays.

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