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I am painting Bumble Bees because Barry and I have been living with a tribe, a nest, a colony of Bumble Bees this past summer. They have taken to living beneath the thresh-hold of our back door. I have written a short story. I hope you like it.
Directly beneath the back door of our house lives a colony of bumble bees. These bumble bees forage all day long out in the world for pollen and nectar, I suppose, and collect it on their bodies. I probably should google this fun fact, but I am not in the mood to look at my phone. Regardless, these bees, they have made a home. And the home that they made is inches from the bottom of the door that Barry and I use every day, many times a day. The strangest thing about this tribe of bumble bees – not sure if ‘tribe’ is the correct term, probably more like ‘hive’, I mean they are bees for crying out loud – anyway – these bees have decided that this active, noisy, busy place, is their home. It seems to me that they easily could have chosen a location at a higher elevation. For crissake, they can fly! They don’t actually need to be 18” from a cement patio, underneath a wood staircase, beneath the threshold of the door to our kitchen. But they did and they do and I think I know why.
Barry, he talks to the bees. Maybe he just chats, possibly sometimes in his head, like a telepathic kinda communication. But I think he possesses a direct line of communication to these bees. I know this because he told me and I choose to believe Barry when he tells me stuff – truth or lie – I just choose to believe it. It’s easier on my brain and my general sense of well-being to believe that he is not fibbing, or making things up, or evading the truth – so I just believe him. Easier.
So, when I expressed my concern about these bumble bees, he said, “Leave the bees alone, they are my friends, they like it there.”
Okayyyy…. But really?
And then he said. “They won’t bother you. They don’t sting.” Okay, for this I consulted google. And, yes, they sting. So, maybe that was not a total lie, but just simply some misinformation or a diversion technique. The basic idea here is that bumble bees will only sting if they feel their nest is threatened.
Ok, I got it.
So, because these bees never go into the house, even if the door is left wide open – which is weird but true – we are allowing them to stay. Well, except for that one time when an overly protective member of this bee tribe, I mean hive, possessing a severe case of unjustified paranoia that I might attack the nest, which resulted in Mr. Bee dive bombing me and me falling back onto the corner of the cement slab – except for that one incident, these bees seemed to have learned that we, are not a threat to their nest.
They don’t follow us into the house. They don’t threaten us or swarm us. They usually do not dive bomb us. Granted, they buzz quite loudly and are always very busy flying around collecting pollen. But not once, all summer long, has one stung either of us. It’s as if they know that if they do, their nest would be destroyed. That they would have crossed that invisible line. It’s as if they know – actually KNOW – that stinging one of us would be the destruction of their nest. So, they just do not cross that line.
It’s now August. Our bumble bees are very active. We all have lived together for months with only one incident and no real injuries – well except for that huge purple bruise on my left thigh. Yet the future survival of this hive is uncertain. I am not convinced that one of our ‘bee friends’ wouldn’t sting one of our ‘human friends’ just because they don’t speak ‘bumble bee’. Christ, my son is severely allergic to bee stings! What are we thinking?
But I do know that they respect us, are thankful for the use of the threshold, but have created very clear boundaries surrounding their right to life. They seem to know us somehow. They must have been watching us. Certainly, they must have created many nests in other locations around this property. They probably witnessed Barry vacuuming up the wasp nest or the yellow jacket nests. It seems that Barry only speaks bumble bee, not yellow jacket or wasp.
Because they have decided not to sting us, not to venture into the house and most importantly, they have made friends with Barry, for the forseeable future, these bumble bees will live with us, busy and noisy little buzzers that they are, we will continue to live with them. THE END