Taking care of the bumbles

by - June 07, 2012

I've always been skittish around flying insects with stingers. I blame my parents who potty trained me in the buff on the side porch, during which I was stung on the bumkin by a bee. When approached by a yellow jacket, I will actually take off in flight until I lose him. However, in the garden, there is one stinger I've found peace with - bumble bees! Mind you, the carpenter bees are still evil assassins that chase me for no reason, but the bumble bees are my friends

After reading that bumble bees are essential for pollinating many of my garden vegetables, such as the tomato which they pollinate by vibrating the flowers, I started incorporating more flowers and colors into the garden to attract them and keep them steadily supplied throughout the growing season. Their current favorites are English Lavender, Liatra Spicata, Borage, Blue Meadow Sage, and Black Oil Sunflowers. They have demonstrated a blue and purple bias, which is my own personal preference as well.

bee on borage

I also read that the bees need to drink water, but tend to drown in open water surfaces. So as part of the lizard habitat we created, the broken birdbath is filled with pebbles and rocks to give them safe landing.
 
Since my boys were also afraid of bees, we've spent time quietly observing them and getting a closer look. Wookie likes to find them and point them out to me, and he knows not to get too close or try to touch them. It's funny seeing the all-knowing expressions on his almost two-year-old face as he tries to tell me about them in his toddler chatter. The words I make out are "bee" and "ouch" and "come on!".

Last night, Scooby and I spent time in the garden watching the bumbles on the flowers. He knows now that the bees are slower and friendlier when it's not as hot outside, so early evening is the perfect time to get up close. Before encouraging him to get up close and personal with one bee we were watching, I explained that it's important to stay very still and not wave his hands around if the bee flies towards him. We were within inches from one on a borage flower and listened how his buzzing changed, even jumping back a little at the sharper sounding buzz. Since he's four and believes everything I tell him, I had him talking to the bee and thanking him for pollinating our flowers. Scooby later reminded me that bees die after they use their stingers, and we talked about how they don't really want to sting us.

talking to a bumble

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2 comments

  1. I should send my eldest over for a bee workshop with you. He, like his dad, is terrified of bees. Maybe we should take to observing them.

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  2. It's cool how they've gone from screaming that there's a bee to being excited about watching them. The only negative encounter I've had since gardening was last year when I accidentally crushed one in my armpit and got stung. Whoops.

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