Bees in the Blossoms

Woke up this morning feeling rested, relaxed and healthyā€¯first time since the new year. Went for a swim, after which I felt exuberant. At 1 p.m. I took a break from grading papers to fill the bird feeder and discovered it was clear, breezy and warm outside. After I added a scoop of sunflower seeds, the red-headed finches twittered their gratitude from the surrounding cover. I walked up the steps to the blooming volunteer almond tree, the first sign of spring. Coming close, I was enfolded by its shimmer and fragrance. Honey not tasted but inhaled, its sweetness pouring through nasal passages up into sinuses behind my eyes.

What a day for bees, I thought, and immediately was surrounded by dozens of them flitting and hovering, trembling in the wind along with the blossoms and new leaves, apparently oblivious of my presence. The breeze died down and the fragrance ramped up. Up close I watched the bees nuzzle and grope and hump the tiny golden stamens at the center of each blossom. Vibrating with excitement, released from the pull of gravity, they rode a wave of pleasure in taste and smell.

I was transported with them for a moment. Then I tried to observe. A single blossom held an inexhaustible supply of delight. One after another bee entered its bower of warmth and brightness, took its harvest, and was replaced and sometimes bumped out of the way by a new visitor.

I tried to track an individual bee, noticing how it used two or three or four hands to grasp whatever it gathered on the top of those stamens and shove it greedily into its mouth. It moved to another blossom, dove in, turned on its back, curled its abdomen around the group of stamens and rubbed furiously against them with its belly.

At most ten seconds on any one flower. But, why move on when there’s plenty left? Why approach another flower and then back off, or touch down on a third and depart without entering? What determined its preference? I couldn’t track a single bee for more than a minute before it sped out of my narrow focus.

more bee pics

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