Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Bee that lost its Buzz, and A Spring Garden!

Laura saw the bee before I did. "Don't stand on it!" she said. "The poor thing must have been inside since yesterday."

Dragging itself over the floor near my feet was a very dishevelled bundle of misery. The bee was in such a feeble state that its limbs would not bear its weight, so it polled along with the occasional push of one or other back leg, and paused between each push as if to catch its breath. Laura captured the bee with one of my small porcelain glaze test bowls, and I went out into the garden ahead of her and the bee in search of a dandelion or two.

Over the years we have rescued many exhausted bees that have "run out of steam", and have found that they revive quite quickly if placed gently on a dandelion flower. The flower is broad enough to give a wobbly bee plenty of support, and there are numerous little florets for them to put their long tongue into in search of nectar.

This poor bee was so far gone that it could do no more than grip a dandelion flower with its hook-like feet, and insisted on orientating itself the wrong way round with its bottom on the flower and its head hanging over the side! I realised from its pathetic lurches that it was only a matter of time before the bee fell off. I placed the glaze test bowl under the flower for the bee to drop into, then went back to the house in search of some honey.

Standing by the kitchen sink, I put a small glob of honey into a teaspoon and diluted it with water. I took this out to the bee and was attempting to find a way of getting honey to a place near the bee's head, when it lost its hold on the dandelion and fell into the glaze test bowl. The bee landed upside down and seemed unable to right itself. What with spoon, bowl, upside-down bee and honey, everything conspired to get a bit sticky at that moment.

I put the spoon on the ground, arranged a blade of grass over it like a bridge, and managed to slide the bee onto the bridge so it was able to hold both grass and spoon with its various feet, and peer into the bowl of the spoon where the honey was. Quite soon the bee's long tongue extended, and it began to consume honey with great care and dexterity. As the bee grew stronger I was heartened to see its big rounded rump nod rhythmically. This was a good sign, our exhausted bee was coming back to life!

The restoration of the bee took the best part of half an hour. I sat nearby with a cup of tea and watched as honey and warm Spring sunshine worked their magic. At last... there was a sudden haze of wings, and the bee lifted majestically to the low blossom laden branches of the plum tree above us and embarked on a mad dance from flower to flower, scattering white petals in its haste to find more nectar. I headed back indoors to get my camera, and on my return to the garden, I was delighted to be able to reunite with the bee and take its photo before it flew away to a higher and more inaccessible tree.

It is Spring and the garden is waking up with a great rush of energy. Laura is outside most mornings purportedly "filling another bucket of weeds", but really just being there living and experiencing this season of change, and rediscovering her "treasures" as they awaken from their winter sleep.

Potting and painting, yes there is quite a bit going on in our studio and I will start glazing a new kiln load of pots for the wood fired kiln this week.

I think I'll do a separate post about that and other matters as this has got rather long already!


Linda Starr said...

I've come across many a bee like the one you've described, usually after a cold night and they can barely fly or hang on, I will have to try your trick with the honey to see if i can revive them. So many lovely flowers you've shown. Happy Spring to you and Laura

Anonymous said...

Lovely story Peter. We have a wonderful mental image of you two putting the buzz back into that lucky bee! Nigella Stoppit must have wondered what you were doing. Great set of photos as usual!

gz said...

good for you..we need bees.
Thanks for posting Spring things...it lifts the heart as we slide from a disappointing Summer towards Winter

Arkansas Patti said...

Way to go guy. I have never seen a bee in that condition and am amazed that they can recover. I will remember your kind care and extra effort. I will try it myself if I ever run across one. We need each bee these days as they are so threatened.

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
Interesting that you also have found bees like that, cold nights certainly would slow them down. Sometimes we see them a lot even in warm weather,and I get a bit suspicious about pesticides or agricultural chemicals. Last year we had several weeks where bees kept coming in the house almost like their on board navigation computer was faulty, most seemed happy enough when shown the door though!

Hi "Anonymous",
We do our best to keep Nigella guessing, it is good for her feline brain! She is enjoying life at the moment, because there are men working putting in a water pipe under the main road outside our place, and there is much to entertain her when she looks through the front window!

Hi Gwynneth,
Glad you enjoyed the Spring flowers and they brought some cheer! I hope that Autumn brings some Autumn colours as you "slide" towards winter. We have a cherry tree here that gives a great display of red autumn leaves that compensates somewhat for the accompanying chill!

Hi Patti,
Good to hear from you. It sounds like your bees must be all healthy and full of buzz where you are if you don't see weary and exhausted ones! I hope so anyway! Bees are so precious, as are other insects, and we will certainly miss them if they die out!

Rhonda said...

Lovely story about the bee. Spring is a delightful time, the photos of the flowers are beautiful.

Peter said...

Good Morning Rhonda!
Glad you liked the bee story, and I know you too will be enjoying Spring flowers!

Anna said...

so glad you were able to revive the bee and the garden is looking lovely... ours is a bit stressed due to lack of rain... watering just isn't the same.

Peter said...

Hi Anna,
Good to hear from you, I wish we could send you some of our surplus water... our garden is a little on the wet side at the moment and our woodland "jungle" has squishy mud and small lakes under the trees!