The Broken Bumble Bee

by Julie Tennis on July 6, 2012

I picked up the Bombus vosnesenski in the parking lot of the postie. Perhaps she’d been hit by a car, caught by air-pressure in the grill until the vehicle came to a stop. She was walking in an erratic, drunken circle.

There’s often an initial distrust when I first pick up a bee bare-handed, a fear that I will be stung. It’s usually fleeting, barely an entire thought. Not knowing the mental state of this bee I first scooped her up with the mail. Noticing she wasn’t perturbed I transferred her to my hand and carried her home. I paused half-way there, concerned that I was taking her out of her foraging area, that she might not be able to find her way back to her nest. But if she’d been brought there by car there was little hope for her to find her way home anyway, so I continued.

She wasn’t interested in being placed on a flower so I sat with her in the yard, near the hives. I sat with her for several minutes, wondering what wasn’t working right as she clearly couldn’t fly. I was surprised as something struck my shoulder and tumbled across my field of view to land on my open palm – a white moth. “Wow,” I thought. “What are the chances?!” Some mysterious deep feeling started to rise as if it were going to spill out in tears. None came and the feeling subsided. The moth got comfortable on my hand and appeared to go to sleep.

A little later I noticed a honeybee stumbling across the landscape. A tiny wasp landed on my pants leg. She had a long narrow abdomen and I wondered, “Who does she inject?” She flew off and I picked up the honeybee, raising her to the sky to give her a better launch pad. She tumbled to the ground. Her wings looked fresh, not tattered like the older field bees I often find trekking across the lawn to their home. I picked her up and carried her closer to the hives.

The moth I placed on a stick in the brush pile. She didn’t want to leave my hand and in the process of moving her, the bumblebee launched herself. The bee landed on the short wall around the brush pile. Knowing there was nothing more I could do for her, I left her there to her own ends and returned inside to write.

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