June 21st, 2015

Whale fluke

The bee

I don't know if I did the right thing for that bee.

Huh: that was unlikely for me to write.

I'm the type who (generally) gets along with snakes and spiders, two species that scare many people. Flying bugs, though, I often have issues with, from simple annoyance (gnats forming the world's least efficient helmet around me; mosquitos thinking I'm tasty) to pain, because bee stings. I have a (healthy, I think) respect for, and fear of, bees. Probably exaggerated fear -- it's not as if I've been mass-stung by killer bees -- but I'd rather not get stung, thanks.

Last night I visited my friend Heather, who held a cookout at her apartment complex's pool house to celebrate her impending move into a house she's bought. I'd decided I wasn't in the mood to swim, but I was in the mood to stick my legs into first the hot tub and then the pool. I talked with the people who were fully in the pool, including a few kids having a good time, but mainly chilled.

Then I noticed a bee flailing in the water a foot or so away from me.

Get it out

No, I'm not touching it

Those were my first thoughts upon seeing the bee. Then I felt weird for having both thoughts, in that order. Meanwhile, the window for doing something about the bee was closing, because -- I was going to write that bees aren't natural swimmers, but it turns out they do have ways to handle being in water. This bee, however, wasn't handling it well. And I wasn't feeling so hard that I wanted to go Sorry, bee, them's the breaks. I leaned over, scooped up some water around the bee, and dropped her onto the platform.

For a few minutes, I watched. Thinking that it might help, I blew gently on her. The bee eventually got to her many feet; she rubbed her head repeatedly, apparently cleaning and drying off. The bee walked a bit. I gently blew on her some more. Eventually she extended her wings and, after a little more walking, tried to launch.

Couldn't get airborne.

Tried again to launch.

Wobbled and couldn't get airborne.

Tried again to launch and wound up in the pool again.

By this point I was more than a little invested in giving the bee enough of a chance. So, once more I scooped the bee out. She clung briefly to my hand, but didn't sting me. I shook her off, then got up looking for something I could put her on. I found a leaf, was able to get her onto it, and carried the bee and the leaf over to the landscaping plants just outside the pool area.

Here's where I definitely screwed up: in attempting to get the bee onto either the plants or at least the railing encircling the pool, I dropped the leaf and the bee. Into the mass of leaves she went, un-retrievable. I'm not sure what shape she was in by then. Injured? Broken? Just fine and soon to fly again? I know what I'd like the answer to be, but I can't know.

I don't know much about bees. Including that one. I probably should have risked a stinging (which, I have to remind myself, is less likely than I'm scared of it being) and let her stay on my hand while I got that leaf; did she land a bad way when I shook her off my hand? Was she already hobbled when she first tried to fly next to the pool and couldn't, at least yet?

First do no harm. Even to bees who could hurt you if you agitate them.

I want to do better about that.