OK, so today I'm mowing the lawn. I'm doing it because I don't own a machete and fear things that lurk in tall, tall grass, and so I mow. I'm mowing, mowing, oh so mowing and I determine it's the right time for one of those dramatic pauses where one stretches their back, peers at the shiny sun (as if to say "good lord but that is a bright sun we have there!" like that could be a bad thing) and wipe one's brow with the butt of one's thumb. I stretch, peer and wipe and in that moment of quiet my internal voice was finally able to break through with this question:
"Say, what's with all the bug action over there by the trubs?"
Tangent: they're either trees that are the height and majesty of shrubs or shrubs with the depth and potency of shrubs. Since they are neither true tree nor sure shrub I dub them trubs.
Anyhoo, these trubs run along the north side of my yard between me and the northern neighbors. And sure enough, smack dab in the middle of the line of trubs, about 2 feet off the ground, there is much bug commotion. I stare, I stare, and then I see that the commotion actually the comings and goings of bees from a MASSIVE swarm hanging off a trub branch! Big! Large! Not at all teeny! Bees, baby!
There was a time I would have made a beeline (sorry) straight to the phonebook and looked up "killer of bees!" to solve my problem. But three things have changed: First, one of my favorite people became a beekeeper and blogged about it (so, SO cool. If you haven't read it you must. I'll wait...)
...Second, I've accumulated so much guilt about this planet and what we, the greatest villain from any Disney or Disney-like animated movie, have done to everything that I couldn't kill off any little critters like that. And third is this whole thing about how bees are dissappearing mysteriously and we're all doomed. So I got a bee-centric phone number from the phone book and discovered Groovy Bee Dude. (not his name, but he's innocent and you know what we do with the innocent. That's right, we protect them.)
And so suddenly I'm in the middle of this awesome Mr. Science episode! I called my sister's kids so that they could check this out (never waste a moment of natural wonder, I always say! Rest in peace, Marlin Perkins.) and took pictures and it was stinkin' cool. This Groovy Bee Dude brought a box and took this bunch of bees (looking all the world like golden, stripey grapes with wings and stingers and buzzing and flying and ok, hardly anything like grapes except for their being bunchy and hanging off of the branch.) and just shook them down into the box!
You know that if we'd done such a thing it would have gone something like this:
- Dress from head to tow in the bee-resistent suit and hood and gloves and still hate to get close enough to the buzzing branch to touch it.
- Take branch.
- Shake once over the box and run, run, run like a little girl with a little bit of squealing thrown in.
- Stand a safe distance away, cowering and watching the box to see if anything has moved down into the slots.
- After a while, creep back to the branch and shake remaining bees from the branch into box.
- More of the running and the squealing.
After he had the branch de-beed he had to leave the bee box in the yard until night, at which point all the bees would gather up in the box for protection and such. At that point just about all the girls (the bees) would be calling the box their new home, looking after the queen (who was so dang cooperative and just went straight into the middle of the box first thing! thanks, your majesty!) and doing the most impossible headcount ever. And in the meantime Groovy Bee Dude went to dinner.
Leaving me with the bee box in my yard.
But not scary! I waited until the anxiety level around the hive had calmed down (how would you like it if someone shook your ground until you fell into a box!) and then I wandered over and sat and enjoyed this unique moment. Me and a tiny little universe of lives doing their thing. The whole box hummed. Within a few minutes the bees were settled into the new home and resumed their beely coming and going. They ignored me, minding their own beeswax (sorry) and I sat and watched them for a long time.
Happy Earth Day, folks. I hope everyone got to do something that made them feel like they've earned their corner of the globe, at least a little bit. Tomorrow: back to the mission.