Hello! It’s been a long, long time since I’ve checked in. So much to catch up on! But first, in this post, I’m paying my respects to a bee I met in my yard yesterday.
As readers who’ve been with me a while may recall, I live in a rural mountain community. The expanse of grass here is usually loaded with clover flowers, unless it’s been freshly mowed. Dauntless, these little blooms appear again immediately … and are typically very popular with bees. One must be very mindful walking in the yard with bare or sandaled feet! I once scooped a bee up into my sandal (back in college, running across campus) – incurred a terrible reaction and actually needed to hobble with crutches for a few days. All to say I’m acutely aware of the preponderance of bees bustling about at very low altitude here. No “chem lawns” or toxic pesticides used, at least in my immediate vicinity. Lots of busy bees.
Plenty of wildlife also passes through during any given day or night. It’s been a hot summer; I feel for the critters in constant search of food in this heat, and thought it would be nice to provide them with drinking water. A shallow plastic bin (the under-bed storage kind) I spotted at the local free-cycle building seemed to fit the bill. Brought it home, filled it with water, and created a mini oasis back near the woods for foragers (deer, mostly, but also the smaller guys). The cats like visiting “the trough” too.
Yesterday I went out to check the water for leaves and other debris, and discovered a little bee floating in there. Earlier this summer I found a drowned bee in the cats’ outside water bowl. Sad; such a small area of water to drown in! Now here was another one. I scooped it out with my hand, placed it on the grass, and saw that it was still alive! I observed as it sort of struggled for a bit…
… then a curious thing happened. That bee turned around to look right at me looking at it – and it started wildly waving its left front leg at me! There we were, face to face, and I felt I was being fiercely reprimanded by one very upset bee!
I left it alone for a few minutes… went back to check… it appeared to be grooming itself much as a dog or cat does.
Left again… went back… and found it lying on its back on the ground between blades of grass. I gave it a little nudge onto its side… it was still alive, but not lively.
Again I left, and again went back out… this time to find it had crawled under a small, dry, curled-up leaf. I left it alone (as it clearly wanted) for the evening.
This morning I checked again: dead.
I wondered – did that bee deliberately dive into the water on a suicide mission? Rather than rescuing it, had I interfered with its instinctive end-of-life process? Did I cause it to suffer more than it would have if I hadn’t come along and butt in?
It was an interesting encounter. I’ve never had a “face to face” with a bee before, let alone a bee vigorously “shaking its fist” at me as this one seemed to have done.
Apparently bees DO kill themselves (I actually searched “do bees commit suicide?” – and found many hits about it), ie, in cases where the bee would spare the hive by not bringing an illness or something toxic back to their community. Perhaps they also go off alone to die in solitude, as do many animals.
Bees are quite noble little beeings. I find my thoughts returning to this little one today.
Just wanted to share this touching (to me) experience. I’m quite aware of the many creatures great and small around me, and really do endeavor to live and let live. I escort insects – and the occasional lizard that a cat proudly but carefully brings home to show – outside to resume their outdoor lives. I try to be a gentle steward of the land and its residents.
The worms that have moved in on my kale and chard raised-bed garden though? – sorry. They’re getting plucked. Why must they go after my veggies when the country is loaded with other greenery??
Sad sigh. Unpleasant task.
I have numerous things I’d like to write about and hopefully will be getting back into the swing here. Meanwhile, my sincere apologies to the life essence of that bee, if I did in fact interfere inappropriately in its business with misguided human heroism.