the most beautiful thing: bee medicine
I know I’m not alone. We are, many of us, afraid of bees.
Perhaps it was that run in with a wasp nest when I was four, or a low tolerance for small moving would-be-stingers, or just a chilling memory of that crazy movie The Savage Bees (seen at far too young an age, I’m sure), but whatever it is, I have been shriekingly afraid of bees for most of my life. Regardless of my fear, I won’t kill them, but will admit that my attempts to pursuade them out of my apartment does from time to time result in a dropped glass, smooshed bee foot, and the like, simply because I am so jumpy during that process of persuasion that giving them a simple, clean getaway is nearly beyond my physical and mental capacity (sorry little ones who’ve lost limbs, or worse).
I do think they are beautiful creatures, though. Magnificent. I was very excited last year when friends of mine started up two hives in their back yard. I marveled at the intelligence and grace of the honey bees there and felt oddly safe despite their frenetic movements in and out of the hive near me. I recently fell in love with a series of bee paintings from my friend Bob Spellman, too. I’ve also followed and been heart-sore about the current plight of honey bees, their collapsing hives, and their indication of our deeply troubled global ecosystem. It is not for lack of a softened bee-loving heart that they scare me so, that’s for certain.
But last week I met a creature that I think has nearly all-but-cured me of my bee phobia.
I had come home from a long day at work and promptly laid myself down on the couch near my sunny balcony sliding glass doors. My gaze fell on my nearby purring cat, Olive, then the light coming through the glass, then… a boggling shadow cast from the presence of a crawling creature on said glass. I rose tentatively to quietly see what kind of insect or spider could be blocking the sunlight with such an alarmingly large footprint. At first I just didn’t believe it, and then a tingling warmth spread through my body. The tears of deep relaxation and new love welled just a bit in my eyes and I was fiercely compelled to pet the small creature gingerly walking across my balcony door screen. There, my friends, was the largest, most beautiful bumble bee I have every seen.
I would not be exagerating to say that she was two inches long with an equally wide wing span. Unreal. A small stuffed animal. A wonder.
I was transfixed. I was dazzled. I was healed… by her beauty, by the moment, by the sun she offered in her contrast, by the breeze she reveled in, by the nectar hanging to her sweet feet.
I did not pet her, as I dearly wanted. But neither did I shake as I picked up a piece of paper to coax her to the outdoors in defense of the agitated tail-flicking chirp-growling Olive. I simply spoke softly to her as she made her way out the door and back out into the fresh open air of my herb garden, the apple tree, the Boulder breeze.
She was beautiful and her bee medicine left a little humming song in my blood whose melody I will not soon forget.
Photo by Declan McCullagh.