Today's the Fourth of July and folks are splashing in their pools.
So, what happens when a bee falls in?
Sometimes they get lucky--if there's a human around to rescue them. And sometimes their luck extends to a floating leaf.
This tiny female sweat bee, genus Halictus (probably H. tripartitus, as identified by native polinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, fell into our pool and then managed to save herself by climbing onto a cherry laurel leaf.
If you look closely, you'll see another sweat bee, an even smaller one, trying to climb onboard, too.
The scenario ended well. The bee coasting along the leaf dried her wings and then flew off.
Luck be a lady...
Okay, I’ll admit it.
I have a soft spot for honey bees.
Today I fished out some thoroughly drenched honey bees from our swimming pool.
Indeed, the pool looked like an Olympic meet for Apis mellifera.
It appears that while the bees were foraging on the nearby cherry laurel blossoms, they tumbled into the pool. That's when I saw them--struggling--and netted them.
I could say “They looked like drowned rats,” but I’m not and they didn't. They looked like very much like drowned honey bees.
I took a plastic spoon, dipped it into a jar of starthistle honey and offered it to them. They sipped it, gathered a quick burst of energy, and off they buzzed.
I suspect they returned to their hives. Maybe tomorrow they'll be back foraging in the cherry laurels, but hopefully, they won't be back in the pool, and will warn their sisters of the danger through head butts.
Saving a few bees, one bee at a time, is a little like saving starfish on the beach. Author Loren Eiseley inspired others with this story:
“While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. I said to him that I thought he was foolish. there were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference. He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, 'It makes a difference for this one.' I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.”
― Loren Eiseley
Today the honey bees were starfish.
It's raining bumble bees in our pool.
Yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii).
And honey bees (Apis mellifera), too.
While nectaring lavender, catmint, tower of jewels, sedum and other plants, some of the foragers land in our pool. Talk about no depth perception.
We fish them out and most survive. (A floating piece of styrofoam now provides them with a little protection from the untimely dips.)
For the two below, it was definitely a bad hair day.