The Bee and Me
The tale of a lazy spring afternoon - and a bee.
An Afternoon Break
It was mid-afternoon, warm with a gentle breeze... I decided to go out and sit in the gazebo and enjoy nature and the quiet. (Okay, its the suburbs and fraught with the constant sound of kids, dogs, lawn mowers, and a variety of vehicles; but relative quiet.)
Behind my black mesh curtain, the wildlife seemed oblivious to my presence and I watched the birds, squirrels, etc. going about their normal activities. I Snacked on some fruit and a soda; it was a nice break.
Suddenly, a small honey bee dashed through the open flap and landed (or crashed) onto the back mesh. I didn't zip the flap, but since it was only a four-inch gap, I didn't think it was necessary.
All worker bees are female, but some people do a double-take when I call them "shes".
As a matter of fact, my given name means 'bee' in Hebrew. I've been told it suits me.
I don't dislike bees, per se. As long as they go about their business, they're welcome to all my flowers. I do prefer they keep their distance from me personally, though. Probably one of my neighbor's bees since he keeps hives.
I didn't have my insect killer spray and trying to "help" her escape would likely get me stung, I settled for just watching her.
Anyway, I sat and watched as she flew out and back to the mesh, then did a bee-style search pattern of the mesh. After a while, she stopped flying out and back and just walked around and around on the mesh from waist-level to the roof line and back again - never going below waist level and never going above the roof ring onto the canvas roof.
She got slower and slower was time went by. Finally she ventured up onto the canvas roof, again going around and around, but very slowly.
Outside, a big yellow butterfly flew by, but not in. I would have preferred his company to the bee, but... Suddenly, a second bee dashed in. (I really should have closed that flap.)
The new bee was almost over-active. She flew back and forth, testing every panel of the mesh. Instead of watching, this time I was dodging. She finally landed near the first bee and did the bee search pattern in the same place as the first. Then, just as quickly, the second bee found the flap and dashed out.
Too bad the first bee didn't observe her comrade's exit and follow suit, but she was tired and dropped to the floor, walking slowing around. The floor is dangerous for her - lots of spiders in the gazebo.
The picture is a little fuzzy, but the round balls are spider egg sacs. The tiny black dots are the newly hatched spiders.
You may not think a bee has anything to worry about from a spider, but I saw a spider cocoon a bee unfortunate enough to get caught in it's web. The bee thrashed and tore the web, but couldn't keep ahead of the spider and was eventually safely cocooned for a future meal for the spider.
Just then, I had another visitor. A mosquito flew in and started buzzing around my head. I swatted and eventually made contact, squashing the mosquito before she got a bite. (Yes, all the biting mosquitoes are female too. I sense a pattern.)
Now I really had to get up and close the flap. Although the bee is more dangerous - certainly for me since I'm allergic, I dislike the mosquitoes more. The bees are just going about their business and if they sting, its only in self-defense. Mosquitoes, on the other hand are actively hunting me to feed on me so, no mosquitoes.
And they're not just annoying, the mosquitoes that is; they carry disease, too. Since I was a kid, we worried about mosquitoes carrying "sleeping sickness" (encephalitis). Now people worry about West Nile virus - and it's still encephalitis. Apparently, the strain that was common when I was a kid was called the "Saint Louis" strain. The West Nile strain, that showed up several years ago, is supposedly more virulent, so, even more reason to avoid mosquitoes.
I got up to close the flap and suddenly my bee got her second wind, flew over and landed on the panel just next to the flap. Now my dilemma. Rather than trap the bee in the gazebo, I gently shook the mesh hoping she's get the hint - and not just get mad.
Luckily, she took the hint and flew out through the flap. I closed it, but since I was already up, it was pretty much time to go in the house - people and pets to feed.
I mused as I left, what would happen when the cicadas came out? I remember last time - 16 years ago. They crawled out of the ground with ugly spiky feet and crawled onto any vertical surface and shed their exoskeleton, flying into the trees to look for a mate. The exoskletons were everywhere and really stuck. It took concerted effort to get them off anything and years later they could still be found in places like the underside of the deck handrail. But, last time, we didn't have the gazebo, and I'm envisioning the thin black mesh curtain covered in exoskeletons. Yuk. We'll have to wait and see.