The Parasitic Life
At the moment there’s a patch of garden just outside of the house which has become a bumblebee graveyard. I’m not really sure why so many bumblebees are dying, or why they keep choosing to die in that particular spot.
It may be due to it being the only patch which gets sunshine… when there is sunshine.
This Summer has been more of a not-Summer Summer. It’s mostly cloudy, with a smattering of not-rain rain, and is not-warm warm.
The butterflies like that area too.
So do the longhorns.
They’re flappy-flying beetles with long antenna and attractive designs on their backs, which you can only see when they stop their flying-flappery. I had an argument with one the other day as it insisted on repeatedly landing on me in spite of my flicking it off each time protestations. It looked like a wasp – there are a lot of those stingingly annoying investigators of humans. Tell them to go away and they think you’re giving them the come hither signal.
Then there are all the flies who want to taste your sweat as though it was a sweet delicacy, either that or they think you smell delectably like rotting flesh.
And let’s not mention things like horseflies and ticks, especially ticks… I’m still trying to get over the one I found on my leg, its head embedded in my flesh. Shudder.
Why do the bumblebees keep dying? Maybe their life has been exhausted by all their hard graft. There also aren’t that many flowers left in the garden. Some seem to revive a bit if you feed them honey. I don’t use pesticides in the garden, and the nearest farm keeps things eco-friendly (although what humans call eco-friendly may not be as Earth Mother approved as we pretend that it is).
Not all the bumblebees are dying though, there’s a very active nest in the lawn, and they seem fine, thank you very much, not their fault that the other species are such wimpy weaklings and can’t take the pace of a busy bee’s life. They’re red-tailed bumblers, slightly more aggressive and it seems hardier too.
Some of the dead bees are missing their wings as though something ate them. Could be a fungus, those fun guys are everywhere and highly sociable. It’s not mites as those are fairly easy to spot on a bee, they’re rather large for something which is supposed to be tiny.
This (pictured below) was the strangest incident which eventually led to the death of a bee (the bigger one) in the bumblebee graveyard…
I saw a bee struggling around on the ground. On closer inspection I saw that it was carrying another bee, but not willingly. This was not a brother carrying another, while singing he ain’t heavy. And they weren’t having some sexy Summer hanky panky fun.
As I observed the goings on…
(letting it go on because I am always a bit wary of interfering in the flow of nature… humans often think they’re helping, but nature isn’t so sure about how helpful our helping hand actually is)
…I did what humans so often do and made it all about me. I projected my own story and experience of life onto the scene. The larger bee was me, and the smaller bee was a blend of those whom I’ve know who have on occasion felt to me as though they’d latched onto me, climbed onto my back, and clung on for dear life while I struggled to shake them off.
The more you struggle to shake them off, the harder they cling.
You want to get away, but they won’t let you go…
I couldn’t get an in focus shot because the larger bee never stopped moving, it was as though it had decided that even if it died, it was going down fighting for its freedom.
I wonder if the smaller bee would have let go had the larger bee stopped moving? Somehow I doubt it. The smaller bee had beady eyes and a determined expression on its fuzzy face.
What if the larger bee had played dead, would the smaller one have let go? Probably not, bees don’t judge other bees by appearances, do they? They aren’t fooled by pretense, are they? Maybe with flowers, but that’s another story.
The smaller bee wanted the bigger bee’s life force, therefore it would know if there was life force still inside its prey… it would feel the vibrations.
There is a species of bumblebee, called the Cuckoo bumblebee:
“They are a specialized lineage which has lost the ability to collect pollen and to rear their brood. They have lost the worker caste and produce only sexuals, male and female. They are inquilines in the colonies of other bumblebees. Before finding and invading a host colony, a Psithyrus female will feed directly from flowers. Once she has infiltrated a host colony, the Psithyrus female will kill or subdue the queen of that colony and forcibly (using pheromones and/or physical attacks) “enslave” the workers of that colony to feed her and her developing young. When the young emerge, they leave the colony to mate, and the females seek out other nests to attack.
Female cuckoo bumblebees aggressively attack host colony members, and sting the host queen, but ignore other animals (including humans) unless disturbed.” – Psithyrus via Wiki
Which is basically a narcissist bumblebee. Who if it could speak human, and deigned to talk to us, would tell us that it is just bee-ing itself, doing what nature intended for it to do, and it’s not its fault that other bees have what it needs to survive, that its survival depends on others in such a parasitic manner.
It just wants what the other bees have, but it can’t get those things the way that they do, it gets them in a different way.
That’s the parasitic life… and it has its place in the scheme of things, in the flow of nature going wherever it is going, coming from wherever it has come.
And yes, I did eventually interfere with the bees… typical human!