My six-year-old daughter is a sensualist, which is my explanation for why she´s always covered in a layer of whatever it is she´s experiencing, whether it´s dirt or dinner. Her obsession with insects continues, and right now her focus is bees. I grow a bee-friendly garden so she´s got a lot to work with. She wants to hold them. Bees are furry and delicate and delightful; she can see that with her own eyes. I´ve been trying to discourage her because they sting, and I think some (most?) bees die if they sting, although maybe that´s a myth. But she doesn´t care. She keeps on trying, even though she sometimes gets stung. She´s learned now to be patient. She´s the bee whisperer. She holds her grubby little paw out, under the edge of the petals, and sometimes a bee wanders right off that flower and onto her palm so she can look at it up close. So she can feel it, buzzing and whirring and walking. Maybe she gets stung, but she´s willing to take the risk. She´s decided it´s worth it. I watch her and I think about faith, and grace, and prayer, and how fragile the things are that we touch, that we cradle in our two hands.
image: bees in my garden
One of my all time favorite posts! Just beautiful on so many levels. And funnily enough, I just watched the movie The Secret Life of Bees this weekend, which this reminded me of – especially when Queen Latifah tells Dakota Fanning to send the bees love. They need love.
Thanks. And the bees need love now, more than ever. We are apparently losing colonies at a terrible rate, due to colony collapse disorder. Which you probably already know.
I knew it! You all are bee-petting pervs! Ahhh summertime.
Bee petters. I wonder if the FBI is starting a file on us.
wasps don’t die when they sting; bees have barbed stringers and do die leaving the stinger in the stung.
Sorry to be a bummer..
It’s really more of a bummer for the bee, no?
Thanks, Tom — I knew if I floated it out there, somebody would answer! I wish it were the wasps that died…
What a lovely story! I am reminded of how as a child I used to patiently inch closer and closer to the hummingbird feeder with my arm raised, waiting for a hummingbird to land on my hand. My family thought I was crazy and it took forever, but there is nothing like having one of those little birds rest for a few moments on your fingertips.
Okay, that is extremely cool, I admire you and your moxie — hummers can be really aggressive. I’d love to have one land on my hand. We have a surprising number around here, and there were tons in New Mexico.
Bee stroking. It is all I can do to not whimper (or scream) and hit the deck when one comes buzzing by me ear. You laugh, but I am serious.
When I was a kid, I got stung by everything: bee, wasp, hornet. I tried freezing, I tried not caring, and once I had it coming but didn’t know it (I danced too close to a nest without knowing it was there.) So, I sort of developed a, um, rational fear?
But then, here’s the other thing. When I fell into my passion for gardening, I was able to reconnect with the thing I originally tried as a kid. Wonder. And coexistence. When I get that far, it’s a nervous armistice. But, when I totally get into the gardening, and am in flow…then it’s peaceful and symbiotic, and I could even, I think, let one land on me.
I still travel the two worlds, so I am still learning. If I am lucky, I shall get better and better. Perhaps eventually I shall becoming consistently comfortable with the beeings…and my life shall be the better for it.
Funny what freaks us out, I am enjoying this mini discussion. Diva’s terrified of birds for whatever reason. (I torment her by threatening to get her a parakeet for Christmas, or saying, look, there’s a robin!) I was stung, and allergic, as a child, so I feared them. It’s really been since we moved back here and I got to see, up close, the huge *variety* of bees, from the enormous carpenter ones down to those bitty things, I know nothing about bee species… but I’ve learned that mostly they ignore me, they’re going about their beesnus and don’t want me (I did stop wearing fragrance, though.) Yes. Maybe enough calm and quiet and gentle repeat exposure and you too will feel joy in the presence of beeings?
I have felt the joy. It’s way cool. And I can slowly talk myself down if I find myself down if I come out of it now…not like the first time, when I suddenly became VERY aware that I was weeding and sniffing and bookmarked by bumblers and others…and felt like Wile E. Coyote in that moment when he looks at the camera and recognized there ain’t no cliff under him no more…
Birds, huh? Hunh. No Hitchcock for her.
Um, I bumbled there… “I can slowly talk myself down if I find myself coming out of [the zone] now”…
Yes, I’ve threatened her with “The Birds” as a rental. Just describing it makes her run away screaming. 🙂 Great mom I am, huh?
Oh, and my mum taught me how to stroke bumblebees when I was a littlun, funnily enough. She used to have a little feel in secret when she was hanging the washing out, and I caught her at it.
srsly, only on THIS BLOG would a bunch of bee-molesters crawl out from under their … petals. How did your mom do the deed?
Wait til they’re ‘resting’, rather than on active pollen gathering (she also told me that they generally stick with one colour of flower a day – if they have a range of options and I thought this was baloney up until recently when I watched it happen over and over again…), then an upwards approach and slow tiny strokes – no real pressure on the ‘fur’.
The hilarious thing is we’re both highly allergic to bee stings. One summer, I was back from college and my mum was stung on her neck. She stopped breathing and had one of those very disturbing epinephrine injections when we rushed her to hospital. My, she was S-W-O-L-L-E-N.
So I’m petting their backs, right? In the photo above? (Do bee have backs?) I want to try this, there’s a fear factor appeal… I’m allergic to bees, too, although not an epi-pen level, my mom was though. Why does this nutty thing sound so appealing, anyway? Are you two sure you should be handling those bees? Easier than cobras, I guess. I’ll wait for them to settle, interesting about the flower color! They do really like to sit on the echinacea. Funny, they almost never rest on (in?) the roses.
Echinaceas are a little platform though, aren’t they? I often see them ‘resting’ there too (though sometimes I’m sure they’re dead…) and a few other plants are popular. I want to go off and research ‘bee resting spots’ right now.
Their furry backs, yes. Between the wings, if you can. They get a bit flustered over wing touching, I seem to recall. And wings are both fragile and essential.
As for the petting – you have to get your thrills and take your risks where you can. Playgrounds were still concrete in my day… 🙂
Thanks. You made me smile … I am *sure* some of them are dead.
I love these ‘captured moment’ vignettes of yours, March, and how you extrapolate from the specific to the spiritual/philosophical/ethical by showing, not telling. There’s real beauty to that skill of yours.
Can I add ‘live for wonder’ to ‘pay attention’?
(I’d also like to throw in ‘strive for humility’ but that’s a different ballgame and we should stick to one at a time, mayhap…)
Thanks, honey. I feel like I didn’t really capture the wonder of it all, but how can I? And I love your “live for wonder.” I am trying, so hard (too hard?) Nobody needs to explain the magic to you, for sure.
Humility? Mmmmmm, good luck with that. 😉
Lovely. Just lovely. And an excellent way to live.
Note to the little one: Evil Auntie Musette pets bumblers. They are very nice about the whole thing, provided one pets extremely carefully.
Ha! I should have known there’d be a bee stroker on here… her technique is improving, fortunately. It turns out a lot of bugs don’t like being grabbed much.
well, the ratio of masses is a bit skewed, don’tcha think? I mostly let bees stay where they are when I am stroking them – they seem to really settle down on an echinacea.
My ex used to say I was the only person he knew who flirted with insects – glad to know the torch will be passed!
I am laughing, comparing you and Lee’s notes… so, you wait until they’re resting and you stroke their backs with your fingertip?
You know I want to try this.
Your girl sounds awesome. The bee whisperer… beautiful.
She is a funny little thing. I can’t wait to meet her as a grownup, I think she’ll be very interesting. She’s quite different from her big sisters.
Your post resonates with me on many levels. I can clearly remember being a wide-eyed, patient child waiting with excitement for the moment when these fat, furry beeings would climb on to my hand. You’ve reminded me of the power of these experiences and how important it is for me to let my little ones spread their wings.
Beeings, that’s beeyoutiful! Lord, I spend all day being a nag/scold and manners cop… I need to let them just be sometimes, ya know?
You’re beautiful, March. your daughter sounds like just the person to learn from at this moment, as well. I’m so sorry for your loss. i can tell you that 20+ years ago when i had a near death experience, the one phrase i took back from wherever i went/was (strapped down to a gurney in the ER, actually) was ‘Pay Attention’. If you keep coming back to those two words, it’ll change your life. Life will still be a mystery, but you’ll have *actually lived* it. My prayers are with you, stephanie
Pay attention. I keep focusing on that. Thanks.