My secret life with bees

It's not really a secret that I like bees. I've always had some sort of fascination with them and I remember my dad teaching me to safely 'pet' them on their backs so as not to disturb them and get stung. I would then 'wow' my friends with my bee wrangling capabilities. The bee whisperer I was as a child. My fondness of bees is not obsessive to the point where I collect bee-themed nick-knacks or anything... I just like them in my garden, and honey and pollination is pretty awesome as well. I'm all pro let-the-weeds-grow-and-to-heck-with-pesticides in my landscaping style (which I'm sure creates some anxiety with neighbours during dandelion season). But the bees and other pollinators need it. As do we. For survival.


My favourite point to any summer is when the blossoms are doing their thing and the bees are out in full force. I have an herb garden where the oregano pretty much takes over and when it's in bloom, it's completely buzzing with activity from sunrise to sunset. A space of approximately 4 feet by 10 feet feeds hundreds if not thousands of bees throughout the day. And when I need a little serenity break, I head for the garden to watch. 


Watching this activity for any amount of time creates a 'Where's Waldo' type of search. The more you look at the oregano swaying back and forth, the more you see, and there is always more to it than immediately meets the eye. And though honeybees are the majority, other types and species will start to pop into view. It's quite mesmerizing and meditative.

This year I found that my pumpkin blossoms have been a big attraction for these wonderful creatures. Each large, bright yellow blossom is short-lived, showing it's beauty in the morning before closing as the heat sets in, never to open up again. The day I went out with my camera, a honeybee was hard at work collecting pollen. He would crawl in head first and shake the flower until he was completely covered in yellow grains. Another little 'bee' showed up at one point and they shared the blossom briefly.


It got more interesting when said honeybee decided he must have missed out on a freshly closed flower. He managed to find an opening and crawled in and disappeared! I sat patiently, watching what was now a blossom cocoon shake and move as the bee explored. Finally, he had enough and started his crawl to freedom again. I could see his outline as he got closer to the opening where he suddenly popped his head out as if to say 'peek-a-boo.'


Different plants seem to attract different creatures and the lavender has its own fan club. Fuzzy little 'bee-flies' show up to collect nectar, as well as butterflies of different varieties. 


And while air traffic seems to take over in the busy insect metropolis of my herb garden, I can't ignore the more grounded hoppers that hang out there as well. The garden is a sanctuary for these leggy guys. Surprisingly, I don't lose any of my crops to them. I see chew holes here and there, but perhaps they have their own conservation concerns. If they ate it all up, where would they hang out and stay protected and cool in the hot summer sun? Nature lives in symbiosis with itself and doesn't seem to take more than needed. It's good to pay attention to. As over-consuming humans, we can stand to learn a thing or two from this.


While I no longer 'pet' bees like I did as a child, I still enjoy to 'wow' with my photos. Their activity never grows boring and I will put in hours each summer nurturing blossoming plants for their life work, and in turn watch and appreciate their existence. The bee whisperer I am... as an adult.