5 December 2013

Queen Bee

That Cat's sister and I found a bumblebee in the grass.

That Cat's sister
The poor thing wasn't well. It was wet and shivering and having great difficulty walking through the grass.

I guessed we must be witnessing the end of its short life. The weather was cold and damp and there were very few flowers left to feed from. This is nature red in tooth and claw I mused, but it was horrible to see suffering, so I suggested to Sister Cat, who was equally intrigued by the bee, that she put it out of its misery by eating it.

Of course, she was offended by the suggestion but I pointed out I had seen her and her sister munch plenty of insects through the summer. Could she deny she'd crunched a few butterflies in her time?

Reluctantly she couldn't, so she gave the bee a closer look. She gave it a pat with her paw, sniffed it, turned her head from side to side to avoid the sting, but no, it wasn't possible. The bee was too big.

The bee was a queen we concluded. Since bumblebee queens hibernate in winter we decided she  may not be on her last legs but simply a bit cold.  I shooed Sister Cat away and picked up the queen to have a closer look.

I think she was a Tree Bumblebee.

Her little feet were so delicate and her shivering pathetic, it was magical to feel her move over my hand; a privilege. It is easy to see why conservation charities emphasise the loss of bee numbers rather than those of less attractive insects, who are equally important pollinators and members of the wider ecosystem. I felt a great deal of sympathy for the poor animal.

I went to put her under some shrubs in the hope she could dry out and find a safe place to hibernate. But like other similar attempts to help bees I dropped her rather than softly placing her, and managed to add to her problems.

The last I saw of her she was bravely crawling into the dark.