Based on a true story
It is summer. There’s so many flowers to get nectar from – some better than others – but I’m very busy finding flowers. I come from a hole in the ground and my queen was wise and found an empty nest. Mice had been living there but they were gone by the time she found it. Maybe they found a better spot or they got eaten – I don’t know. I just know it was clever of her, since it was already insulated – something we don’t seem to know how to do on our own. The humans call me buff-tailed bumblebee, so I guess that’s what I am.
I share my garden with a human. Some humans are mean – I think they’re mostly afraid – and some are nice. You never know which until they try to kill you. This human however is in the “nice” category, never killing us deliberately. Accidents happen of course, I lost a couple of friends to the lawnmower, and another friend got stepped on, so it’s always a gamble. There is another creature who lives here – the humans dog I believe it’s called – who sometimes tries to eat one of us, but the human emits a peculiar sound when the dog does this and then it stops. Most times we’re able to be around each other in peace. The human is careful not to step on us and we’re careful not to come too close. We really don’t like to sting unless we have to.
I love flowers of course. Well, I love the nectar they produce and my favourite is clover and holyhocks. The latter was what got me into trouble and I’ll tell you about that day. It was – as I said – summer and the sun was shining. A little wind but not enough to cause a problem. If you’ve ever flown home and the wind blew you a mile off course so you had to work really hard to get back on track, you know how annoying that is. But that day was almost perfect. A few dark clouds but they were far away. I was minding my own buisness..
Flying around in the clover, from flower to flower getting a little nectar in some of them. The human was in my garden too doing something that only makes sense to a human. Sometimes the human would look at me – I’m hard to miss with my 2 cm – but not do anything bad. I sometimes flew a little closer and the human just stood very still, listening to my loud bzzzz and looking at me. The human knows to be aware of my colours but doesn’t seem scared, or maybe it’s just because I’m actually quite gentle. I went on with my buisness and I decided the clovers didn’t yield enough today, so I continued to the hollyhocks. And then disaster struck.
I flew from flower to flower and got nectar. It’s so good and I guess I got greedy. In any case I didn’t keep an eye on the sky (other than watching out for birds) but I forgot all about those dark skies. All of a sudden a big drop of water hit the flower I was sitting in. A little splash hit my hind legs and I thought: “Oh no! Rain!” I hurried out of the flower, legs heavy with pollen and looked out. It was rain allright and it came fast. I had to get home! I took off and then BAM! A huge drop of water hit me on my shoulders just where my wings are attached. I was hit. Going down.
“Mayday, mayday!” I cried as I tumbled downward. I frantically looked around. Not a bumblebee in sight. This is not going to end well. Hurling down I kept crying out for help. It never came. I hit something hard and everything went black…
I don’t know how long I was out, but I had subconsciously grabbed the thing I had hit on the way down. It turned out to be a part of the picket fence. I shook my head to clear it and I had only one thought in my mind: to get home. I tried to move my wings. It was impossible. They were so wet that they felt glued to my body. “This is it!” I thought. A bird is going to eat you now. You can’t fly so you can’t flee. Sigh. I completely forgot that birds didn’t fly in the rain either, that’s how stunned I was. I couldn’t do anything but sit there, holding on as best I could. The heavy rain kept pounding on my back and blurring my eyes. My whole body was soaking wet and I began to feel cold. All I could do was wait. For death or dry warm weather which ever came first.
The rain had surprised the human too. It was in a hurry to get the things it had used inside before they got too wet. A chair, a mug and some other stuff that didn’t cope well with water. It looked around to see if it had forgotten something and glanced over the fence. The eyes stopped. It looked at me. I looked back. The human came closer. I readied my stinger. Just in case…
The human plucked a big holyhock leaf. And then plucked a smaller one. It confused me. What was it doing? Very slowly the human came closer. I was beginning to be a little worried. I didn’t know if I had the strength to turn around and sting, should it come to that. I knew that if I bend to sting forward I’d fall, so that wasn’t an option.
The human was very close now. Lowered the big leaf so it was right in front of me. I didn’t know what the purpose was, so I raised my front legs in a defensive position to try and scare the human to just leave me alone and let me be miserable.
The human smelled a little nerveous but kept working with the leaf. It put it under my front legs but I wouldn’t walk on to that. I raised my legs a little higher in case the humand didn’t understand. The human walked away. “Pheww!” I thought. “No need for the stinger – I’m so cold and tired.” I lowered my front legs again. But alas.. the human came back, this time with a flower. A lily. Those I can’t resist. The human put it close to my legs and I moved a little closer. The human held the lily very still and used the small leaf to push me gently on to the flower. I wondered what the meaning of this was but too tired and cold to really care.
When I was sitting on one of the petals, the human carefully moved the flower away from the fence. That was an odd feeling. Kind of like flying but without wings. The human carried me to a place under the cherry-tree. The rain wasn’t so bad there. The human put the flower down on the grass. Then got two small sticks and put them into the big leaf. I didn’t understand anything this human did, but it wasn’t going to kill me, that much I knew at this point. So I didn’t try to get away. I was too weary and miserable anyway. The human put the big leaf over me, arranged the sticks and all of a sudden I couldn’t feel the rain. What the…??
The leaf was giving me shelter. Lee in the back, open in the front and the sides so I could get away. If I could move that is. Maybe I could.. No, the wings couldn’t move. The human stepped back a little and I saw that it was just as wet as I was. What a strange creature. The lily had some nectar and I turned around to get it. Aah that was much needed.
A little time passed and I began to feel better. I tried to lift my wings several times and finally! They lifted enough for me to move them! Just a little – but enough. I moved them slowly and the more I moved them the more dry they got. After a little while they could go at normal speed so I let them. I needed them to be completely dry for me to fly. I would like to dry my body too, so I let my wings go as fast as I could without taking off. Aah nice wind drying my fuzzy body. The human stood in the rain still. Just looking at me.
The rain wasn’t so bad anymore and I tried to walk a few paces. Wings buzzing at turbo-speed now. They felt dry and my body was almost dry as well. Time to try. I took off. YES! I could fly! I wouldn’t get eaten today after all! I flew around the humans head a single time. Mostly to get my bearing but also to show gratitude. I think what it did is called a smile but I’m not sure. But I saw the friendly eyes and I knew that this human was my friend. Then I had the direction and I went as fast as I could. I was going home!!
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