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Bumblebees

Jason Gurley
Jason Gurley
2 min read

A little while ago, Felicia and Squish went plum-picking. Squish spotted several golden plums on the ground. Those that had burst open were dotted with bumblebees, pushing into the juicy middles of the fruit.

"I fed some of the bees," she told me proudly. "I took a fresh plum, and opened it up, and put it on the ground. And I looked away, and when I looked back, three bees were eating it."

Perhaps coincidentally, only a few minutes later I saw this story come over the wire:

A teenager who rescued a bumblebee says it is now her loyal pet - sleeping by her bed and even following her to the shops and bowling alley. Lacey Shillinglaw, 13, spotted the large fluffy bumblebee lying in the road while walking her dog two weeks ago. She scooped up the bee, now named Betty, noticing it had a crumpled wing, and tried to put it in a safer spot, on some flowers in a nearby park. But it refused to stay put, buzzing back over to Lacey and crawling all over her, and after an hour she gave up and headed home with the creature perched on her shoulder. And despite repeated attempts to leave her outside, the buzzy friend has refused to leave Lacey's side ever since.

I shared it with Squish, who said, "I wonder if she has made it a bed from a walnut shell yet?" Then she asked me if I'd ever been friends with bees before.

I thought about it. I remembered going for a bike ride, about twenty years ago; a bee zipped into my mouth, and wound up trapped beneath my lower lip. It stung me before I spit it out, and I cycled home again, my face swelling up.

When we were children, one of my sister's go-to songs was about bringing a bee home:

I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee
Won't my mama be so proud of me
I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee
Ouch! It stung me!
I'm squishing up a baby bumblebee
Won't my mama be so proud of me
I'm squishing up my baby bumblebee
Eww! It's messy!

(A quick search shows this to be a fairly common children's nursery rhyme, often put to music. The third verse has a few variations. In one of them the child wipes the remains of the bumblebee off their hands—"I'm wiping up my baby bumblebee"—but in other, weirder ones, the child eats the bee mash—"I'm licking up my baby bumblebee"—and then vomits it up again: "I'm throwing up my baby bumblebee...")

"No," I told Squish. "I've never been friends with a bumblebee."

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