The Bee In The Water Bucket

The bee sat in the middle of the leaf, floating in the big blue water bucket,  like dessert on a tray.

Without a thought I scooped the leaf out of the water, lifting it by its stem, I titled it till the bee slid off onto the top of the fence post.

He was still for some time, but slowly he started to move.

First, the back legs began rubbing together like two sticks starting a fire.

Then the bee gingerly walked on the edge of the post, that’s when I saw his tiny hooked feet. I noticed the bend and minuscule joint, a quarter of the way up his antenna, as he felt his way around.

Then he lifted his front leg as if waving to me.

But a moment later its real purpose became clear as he started rubbing his face with both feet, much as a cat will.  After that, the front legs rubbed the back legs.  I thought of myself drying off after a shower.

While all this was happening, the back part of the bee, the furry black half was pulsing like a beating heart.  Eventually, three or four small drops of water were expelled from the tip of it.

And when the sun hid behind a thick autumn cloud, the wooly yellow half of the bee turned off-white in the shade.

I have never watched a bee for so long, never noticed all the intricate parts of its body, and how they move.   It was as if I was watching the bee come alive again.  Trying out each part of his body as if for the first time.

When he turned towards me I saw his black mouse-like eye.   Eventually, the two claws of his mouth started to move, touching then pulling apart.

And as all this was going on, Fanny had noiselessly come to stand next to me.  She nudged me to get my attention and without realizing it I was soon scratching both her and Lulu’s ears as I watched the bee.

After about ten minutes it still hadn’t moved its wings.

I began to wonder how much longer the bee could hold my curiosity. Emotionally I was invested in seeing it fly off, in knowing it was alright.

I began to imagine what the bee might have thought when he was floating on the leaf.  Had he already surrendered to his fate?  Or was he just too cold to move?  What did he make of suddenly being transported to a dry and sunny piece of wood?

And just when I realized that all along I was expecting the bee to shake off like Zinnia does after a swim,  it lifted straight off the fencepost like a helicopter, and lazily flew up and up till the sun blocked my vision and I couldn’t see him anymore.

4 thoughts on “The Bee In The Water Bucket

  1. What a beautiful, life-affirming story. Thank you for saving him and for sharing your experience. This year, I’ve experienced and enjoyed several unique insect encounters, paying new attention to the small and beautiful, and usually feared or ignored, members of our environment. At one point as I assisted some moth’s escape out a hall window, a member of my family asked me “Why? It’s just a bug.” I responded that I believe that even “just a bug” serves a purpose, every creature’s life has some meaning in the grand scheme of things, and even if we don’t know what that is, any faith-based philosophy would be predicated on the foundation that if a Higher Power created all things, who are we to judge whether another being, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, should live or not.

  2. Oh, Maria, how I love how you capture your outdoor adventures with your camera.
    Thank you so much for sharing with us.
    (P.S. I also enjoy our visits to your studio!)

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