They are almost gone. I keep finding them dozing on a flower or a leaf. One nodded off inside a hollyhock. Not a bad way to go. Carder bees are still bustling round the globe thistles but even they are beginning to look a bit tired and worn. And the mornings are getting colder. Autumn is nearly here.
I was terrified of bees as a child. And wasps. Any insect really. I'd been stung twice. Now here I am, besotted. Sticking a camera lens in their face, planting flowers to please them, building an insect hotel at the top of the garden. How did I get here ?
When I was seven I went to Reid and Todd's in Glasgow to choose a book for my birthday. Almost instantly I fell in love with one about nature. Photos of otters did it. My parents were taken aback and tried to dissuade me but I was adamant. The book was bought. Once home I found that not only were there pictures of otters, there were insects too. Giant insects. A magnified bee that scared the wits out of me.
For years the book was opened with great care to avoid the insect section. In real life insects were greeted with screams and cries of "Kill it ! kill it !" It fills me with shame to remember.
Through my growing up years I read vociferously and came across images of bees as fairylike creatures. Wise. You were introduced to them. Curtsied to the hives. Wondered if "there was honey still for tea." If they liked you it meant you were a good person. I stumbled on a little known book of Gene Stratton Porter's called "Keeper of the bees." Saccharine romantic tosh but good on the insects. I stopped screaming "Kill" and taught myself to like honey. But I kept away from its producers. Fairly easy as I lived in the city.
By the time I moved to the country bees were beginning to decline. It registered but that was all. Then I joined a photography website and found people photographing insects. I was repelled. How could they ? But I did like butterflies and that was where I began. Damselflies. Never heard of them. But they followed and then dragonflies. I photographed the odd bee and found that some weren't bees but hoverflies. Never heard of them ! But they reminded me of Gromit in the cartoon films and I fell in love. That was it. The rest of the insect world crept slowly in. Spiders, robber flies, soldier beetles. And all those bees. At last I learned that honey bees and bumblebees were different. I photographed a leafcutter bee. By this time we all knew that bees were in trouble and that we were too. No bees and not much food is left. And what is, is pretty boring.
In the scheme of things my small garden won't make much difference but you have to try. And I'm selfish. I want lots of bees to photograph. Carder bees with their little fox furs round their necks. White tailed bumblebees. Red tailed bumblebees. Garden bumblebees. Early bumblebees. There are even cuckoo bumblebees and that's not to mention the hairy footed flower bees and the harebell carpenter bees. I could go on. But I won't. I'm off to take a few last photos and finish the insect hotel. Nip over to the garden centre. See if they have a pussy willow for sale. Must have early pollen for the emerging queens.
Hello little world
Your friendly bee has arrived.
FedEx for mating.

1 comment

Pam J said:

Wonderful writing !

It made me fill up as I recognised so much. Nature was my escape.. my world... didnt like the bugs.. and now.. yes.. just like you I am photographing them !

Jean.. that was beautiful....

10 years ago