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.