Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Morning Thanks--the murmuring of innumerable bees


Mostly, they're sweethearts, honey bees that is. Mostly. Health-food nuts love 'em. Our grandson wouldn't think it's Sunday dinner if honey weren't on the table. If you like sweet, honey's for you. If you aren't thrilled about what corn syrup has done to this world, honey is downright righteous. 

These guys are bumblers, not honey bees. But no matter--they still make the world go round.


The truth?--bees are selfless to a fault, communists and not libertarians. They don't give a hang about freedom or hanker over workers' rights; they're union is non-existent. Their industry ends only in their demise. They're forever on task, and their forever doesn't amount to much: a lifetime is less than a season. 

A bee-keeper friend of mine told me just a couple days ago that if they're at work, they'd sit on your finger and not sting--if you could get them to sit on your finger. "You're serious?" I said. "When they're at work, they're way too busy to bite," he told me.

So when we spotted an innumerable mass of 'em out back on a late-flowering perennial, I tested the theory, poking my lens up-close-and-personal, sitting there beside them, in the wake of their passion, for ten minutes. Not one of them looked up. I was in their face for a long, long time, but no one raised a stink or a sting. 


If some supervisor was on duty, he did not distinguish himself by keeping an eye out on the others. But if you're a portrait photographer, good luck on the eyes. The whole lot of 'em were driven so hard that getting a close up of a bee's face when he's burrowing is next to impossible. Not that I didn't try.


That same bee-keeper was out here a month ago or so, looking over our many plantings, when he spotted one of his sweeties and pointed, as if I'd never seen one before. "Isn't that beautiful?" he said. 

I had to look up at him to see if he was joking. He wasn't. It may be something of an acquired taste, but he's not wrong, maybe especially when you see them up close--and they're not angry. Furry little things in designer coats bedecked with waxy wings. Not exactly a nose to be proud of, but still--kinda cute anyway. Kinda.  Beautiful? For me, that's still a stretch.


Unlike every species of bird that comes to our feeders, they don't fight with each other; they're just too busy. Dozens of them were aboard this single plant yesterday, dozens. I'm poking at them with my lens, inches away, and not once any one of them take the time to bully another. They're absolutely driven. They're hard drinkers all right, but it's what they do. Time isn't something they have much of, so they make use of it. Do they ever.

And honestly, what they do is a job that has to be done. They're irreplaceable in the hive and the whole blessed scheme of things. Without their hard work, our own backyard wouldn't be so comely. Their ruthless dedication to task plays a vital role in producing one third of everything we eat--broccoli, asparagus, cantaloupes, cucumbers, pumpkins, blueberries, watermelons, almonds, apples, cranberries, and cherries, for starters.


But they sting, you say.

Yep. Yes they do.  Good night, they do.

But not yesterday. These bumblers were waaaay too busy--and on the Sunday too. Sabbatarians they're not.

This morning, I'm thankful for these furry little selfless workaholic sinners. 

As I should be. After all, it's time for breakfast. 

1 comment:

Ron Rynders said...

Sorry to be only reading this now, in January! The girls are all snuggled in their hive, keeping one another warm, keeping their queen around 98.6, even though it's zero and below. You do great service to the little girls by writing about them in your winsome way. When God set up the pollination program for the flowers he created, he did a miraculous thing. What our area needs is more of your attention, writing more articles, alerting more people to the marvels of our little (feared) friends. The truth of what you discovered is even deeper than you mention--they don't usually sting for any reason when they are foraging; it's only in their hive that they become hugely defensive. I am trying to find ways to inform the public, advocating for the bees and other pollinators. I wonder if you will help with that, as your inspiration allows. Perhaps you'd like to come with me into a bee colony and get to know more and more about them?