Often when I am walking, I will notice a bee on the sidewalk crawling around. I always find it strange to see a bee on the ground. I figure they would feel safer being high in the sky, away from my sneakered feet and curious dogs. I mentioned these grounded bee sightings to a friend and she told me something that blew my mind.
She said that bees are often grounded when they run out of energy to fly. Bees work so hard to pollinate our food and serve their queen, that they can work themselves to the point of exhaustion. She said that in her neighborhood in California, when she sees a grounded bee, she puts a drop of honey in front of it. It sips from the honey, and regains its strength and energy to fly away.
Well, I was thrilled as you might imagine. To learn another way that I can support and care for the wildlife in my own backyard was a gift. I couldn’t wait to try it out. Within a couple weeks, I noticed a grounded bee on the sidewalk in front of my home. How convenient for me! I wouldn’t have to haul around honey on my dog walks. I put my dogs inside the house and grabbed a spoon of honey and my 11 year old son.
We put a drop, ok maybe a glob since it’s really hard to drip honey, in front of the sweet bee. She approached it with her antennae twitching. Then she did the most amazing thing. She looked like she was washing herself with the honey. Little antennae and legs dipped into the honey and seemed to spread it on her face and body. I’m not a bee specialist so I wasn’t quite sure what I was seeing. But she didn’t eat it in the way I’d expected. She did seem to be ingesting it in her own way, however.
After 5 minutes of knee-aching squatting, I decided to help her get off of the sidewalk so she wouldn’t be trampled. I took a stick and she climbed aboard. As I was slowly moving the stick towards the nearest tree, she took flight. My son and I gasped and cheered. It was amazing.
When I feel small and insignificant in light of the world’s big problems, I remember this story. For that dear bee, we made a difference. Who knows how long we extended her life and service to the planet? Who knows if my next juicy nectarine or the mangoes that grow in my backyard were made possible by that bee? It all matters. Every little bit.
I walk my dogs in my neighborhood 3-4 times a day. Every day. I do this out of necessity for them and spiritual wellbeing for me. Every time I get outdoors, I am part of the natural world. Watching the ibis forage for their food, hearing the songs of endless types of birds, listening to the soft hum of hundreds of bees as they gather pollen from the royal palm trees that line the streets…it is food for my soul.