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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Tired Old Bee Upended In Flower

Long ago on a hot, humid Midwestern summer evening, when people still entertained themselves as television had not yet fully caught on, children in my neighborhood each took a pint-sized glass jar and we set out to see how many bees we could catch under the lids of our jars. We were too young, maybe six, seven, or eight years old, to know what a cruel and destructive activity this was.

It was soon dark and I had a jar full of buzzing bees. I had no idea what to do with my bees. I did not want to get stung and I was beginning to feel upset about how very distressed I had made my captured bees. For want of a better solution I loosened the lid and flung the jar as far away from me as I could. The glass jar bounced over the lawn, the lid popped off, and the bees who survived this ordeal flew away. No one was stung, just saddened.

So as I went along in life, whenever I stopped to literally "smell the roses", I had the habit of petting the bees that were often in them. Bumble bees in particular like to be stroked a couple of times on the fine, soft hairs of their back. Stroke them very gently and they will stand still and buzz in a particular way that seems to indicate pleasure. I have petted many bees and I have never been stung.

Then one day I came upon a bee upended in a flower. Its wings were tattered, its legs lay askew, and it was motionless. I presumed it was dead. I thought how sad it was that the bee was so worn out with its work of collecting pollen and nectar that it had died on the spot. I gave it a tender little poke in passing, and lo and behold the bee leapt to its feet and began rummaging in the flower. It had not been dead, it was napping.

I have read that bees who return to the hive with insufficient pollen in the pollen sacs on their legs, or not enough nectar in their second stomach, are beaten away from the hive by their fellow bees who are guarding the entrance. I do not know if this is true. But I could understand if some bees who are tired or old take little naps in the flowers where they work.

Caption: Bee Upended In Flower—Not Dead Just Dozing

by Annmarie Throckmorton 2019

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