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.

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Longhorn Wasp Beetle

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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…

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Parasitic Bumble Bee

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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…

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controllers-abusers-manipulative-people-Darlene Ouimet

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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:

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“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

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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.

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Dalai-Lama-Paradox-of-our-age

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And yes, I did eventually interfere with the bees… typical human!

 

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26 thoughts on “The Parasitic Life

  1. I love the minutia in the everyday lives of creatures, great and small…it is often a luxury to even sit outside and watch their goings-on (especially in my corner of the world, in which sitting outside for more than 15 minutes during the day will likely cause spontaneous combustion). I love the way you captured the moments of bee drama, of life and death, and then turned to anthropomorphism. You are quite right that we as humans cannot help interfering, or making a relatively regular occurrence in nature, become all about ourselves. I have a special affinity for bees, even before I learned of their imminent extinction. Wasps do not give me the same warm and fuzzy feelings, as one had the nerve to sting the shit out of me in a swimming pool. But I related to your post, because, coming upon the scene of a bee in distress (mostly drowning in swimming pools, or at the cruel hands of ignorant children), I immediately want to rescue it… I wonder what it was thinking, how it got mixed up in this business, and why it loses half its ass when it stings someone, all in the struggle to survive. Then I scoop it up with a leaf, and it either vibrates until dry, gingerly wiping away at its multi-faceted eyeballs with furry legs, only to fly off without so much as a “thank you”…or it lays dying in a broken, sodden heap, soon to be dragged away by ants. Nature might seem cruel, but it is efficient, and does not discriminate as we humans do.

    As First Officer Spock would say: “Fascinating”.

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    1. Thank you very much ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes, fascinating is the perfect word for it!

      I once got stung by a bee because I was brushing off what I thought was left over water from a swim which was tickling me, didn’t realise a bee had decided to have a sip of the water droplets on my skin. I felt really bad about forcing it into an eventual death by its own sting situation.

      Maybe if humans were structured like bees we’d be a bit more careful about stinging people. Human, you only have one sting, use it and die, so think carefully. But we’re more like wasps. And we also don’t necessarily thank those who save us from drowning, sometimes we’re even a bit annoyed at them for doing that, and maybe we’ll even crawl right back into the pool to continue where we left off before a human felt sorry for us and tried to save us.

      There was this great little interlude in a book I read a long time ago, may have been by Carlos Castaneda, where some guy sees a snail slowly crossing a road and decides to help it so it doesn’t get crushed by a car. He then reflects that perhaps helping the snail wasn’t helpful and that he’d only done it to help himself, to get rid of the anxiety he felt watching the snail cross the road.

      Life is fascinating however we look at it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Man, there is so much zen in the whole situation between animals and humans, that it boggles the mind. And I definitely agree that we are more like wasps as a race, especially now.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting post, so many points in it. All victims would not suffer as much, if only people would believe what they are telling them. Not being heard is the number one killer of any victim, including being the victim of a narciccist, but hey, it makes you strong, self-reliant and also for me, I really don’t give a stuff what others think of me or do, as I have learnt to survive, to care less about those who don’t care or care less about me, I guess it is me saying I refuse, on so many levels, to be a victim. With red hair, freckles, short stature, not the prettiest girl in the room, battle with my weight, these things could all be an issue, if I allowed them to be, but I love my golden hair, don’t even see my freckles, my height is no problem, I really like who I am, am thinking of joining the movement to no makeup as much healthier way to live, I feel sexy most days, feel on top of my problems, often feel extremely powerful, feel young even though I am 60 years old. Yeah, pretty happy really, I won’t let a sad narciccist ever win again, but then again I dug my heals in pretty early on, made it even harder for myself by doing so, but I came out the other end and I like very much who I am, my values, my intelligence and sunny days, which there seems to be a lot more of these days!

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    1. Thank you very much ๐Ÿ™‚

      What you’ve shared reminds me of one of my favourite quotes:

      โ€œDamaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.โ€ โ€• Josephine Hart

      For every hurt we survive we grow stronger because we know that we can survive that type of pain. And it inspires us. Sometimes in ways unexpected and rather wonderful!

      I also love this quote:

      โ€œWhat the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you.โ€ โ€• Jean Cocteau

      Which I read as being something along the lines of – if someone has a problem with you (including if generalised society and beauty concepts), maybe it’s not your problem it is theirs, and maybe whatever it is about you with which they have a problem is actually not a problem at all but an ability they admire through envy, criticism and other things humans do to each other when our issues get mixed up.

      I love the whole no makeup trend, as I love to see people’s real faces. I saw an interesting Indie film which included a dialogue where a guy tells his girl friend that he’d like to see her without make up, just once he wanted to see her revealed au natural as he found her beautiful. She freaks out about it because… her job included selling beauty products, she was self conscious about having ‘bad’ skin, and she’s used to presenting a ‘face’ to the world. It was called – Somewhere Slow.

      I do get the appeal of make up. I don’t wear it myself except on the very rare occasion, I just never got into it, I’m too sloppy to apply it, it irritates my skin (makes me want to rip my face off), and I was put off of it because my first experience of it was through my mother who used to apply it religiously and remark that she was ‘putting on her face’ which creeped me out.

      Who we are, that’s what counts… but it can take us ages to figure that out and then be comfortable with showing it. I think the No Make Up trend is a sign that humans are looking towards embracing nature more.

      The narcissistic era is waning, we’re all a bit fed up with it, but it taught us a lot about being real!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, yes funny how all stars seem to be aligning, maybe we are all getting the message, we desperately need to hear, LOOK AFTER THIS PLANET OR ELSE, funny everything for me lately seems to be about the alternativie lifestyle and am loving it. I think I will be a hippy by next week. Was at a lecture by Australia’s Graeme Sait and wow wow wow. Yes too much great people and things happening now to be worried about a little narciccist. Love your blog by the way.

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        1. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

          I also like exploring alternative lifestyles, they’re intriguing and although some go to extremes, it’s up to us to blend things, balance things, bringing our own individual experience to bear upon it.

          The ye olde ways of doing things are definitely making a come back, but with a modern twist. We’re living in very interesting times!

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    1. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes, I think it was a Cuckoo Bumblebee. It had the extra fluffiness which they seem to have if you do a search for pics of them, but I can’t be sure. Most of my pics are blurry, and my memory… I’d make an awful eyewitness.

      After I interfered and gently separated them, the alleged Cuckoo Bumblebee flew off, the definite bumblebee crawled around a bit more and disappeared into the undergrowth. I couldn’t stick around, however I did find a body in the bumblebee graveyard the following day which I suspect may have been that bumblebee, but I do not have hard evidence to prove that ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved your post. I like how you interwove the bee and the narcissistic tendencies and I particularly relate to thinking everything relates to our own experience. Iโ€™ve just been learning a tough lesson about thinking everything is always about me, well, the negative things, anyway.

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    1. Thank you very much ๐Ÿ™‚

      When I was younger and prone to believing that everything bad or sad which happened in the world was somehow my fault, even if logically and statistically that was not possible, I would have experienced this incident differently and have felt guilty for not providing enough flowers at this time of year to nourish the bees. I’ve tried planting flowers in this garden, it does whatever it wants, and there are deer here, so flowers get eaten. Nature is in charge of things, the local bees know the score.

      When I was younger I used to think everything was about me… doing my utmost for those who told me everything, especially everything about me, was all about them. I went through a phase where nothing was about me, I was invisible unless someone summoned me into visibility, but I was just a figment of their imagination, I floated around like a ghost.

      It’s easy to see ourselves in everything, us and our story reflected, and sometimes it is rather lovely to do that because you connect with the world around you. At times in strange ways, such as feeling that your toast got burned because you were angry. Which is sometimes true, but not always, sometimes the toast got burned, and you were angry, but the two have nothing to do with each other. In certain languages when someone breaks a glass, they say the glass broke itself.

      It can be good to see connections, and it can also be something else.

      It helps to remain aware of that human tendency to see ourselves in everything, to see ourselves at the centre of the universe, it’s a neutral tendency really, we’re the ones who give it a polarity. It’s quite interesting to see where it goes, it can be very revealing, we feel safer disclosing ourselves through others, through the world around us, through things which are an us but not us.

      When dealing with human nature, I tend to try to be aware that sometimes others use me to disclose themselves, and I may be doing that too.

      The negative is more compelling sometimes… it touches us where we hurt, and that is often closer to us than what is positive, the positive sometimes seems too distant, aloof, not as real, an elusive will-o’-the-wisp.

      Life is an intriguing experience.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course, if we grow up with narcissists and have the audacity to exert our own needs, we are selfish. โ€œYou always think the world revolves around you,โ€ is a statement I grew up hearing. Itโ€™s easy to dismiss this not-so-nice-characteristic as a narcissistic lie. However, I learned a very difficult lesson through therapy last week and realised there are times (maybe too many times) when I think everything is about me. I was ashamed and even wondered if this meant I too was a narcissist, but then I read your postโ€ฆ

        Iโ€™m still uncertain what this says about me. I have BPD and as you may already know, mentalizing is not something that comes easy, especially mentalizing others. This selfish view of life usually only comes to the forefront during times of stress or feeling under attack and while reading your post, I did wonder if it was a survival tactic and self-preservationโ€ฆ maybe something moreโ€ฆ?

        โ€ฆmmmmโ€ฆalthough, I still feel selfish and a little embarrassed, I need to do some more reading and it might help if I write a post. Cheers!

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        1. When we find in ourselves narcissistic behaviour, or a narcissistic trait, it usually means that we’re just being human. All humans are narcissistic, it’s normal and natural, a phase of development doing its thing.

          My favourite write up about Narcissism is this one – http://www.energeticsinstitute.com.au/page/narcissism.html

          Making things all about ourselves is nothing to worry about, especially if we’re aware that we do that. Sometimes it is indeed all about us, sometimes it’s partly about us and also partly about someone else, sometimes it is all about someone else, and that someone else may make what is all about them all about us. It shifts and flows this way and that.

          Feeling selfish and a little embarrassed is an uncomfortable but also useful feeling, it can be something which pushes us to find out more, and the more we find out, the more we relax about our own rather messy human selves.

          Quite a bit of what we do, who we become, can be influenced by the shape we took to survive. As a child growing up with a narcissist in our environment we have to find a way to cope with what is going on, since the narcissist is disordered we may have to become disordered too to stay as sane as is humanly possible. In some ways a disorder is actual orderly.

          I became overly analytical, focused on the mind and detached from emotions. The only people allowed to have emotions in my family were my parents. I wasn’t allowed to feel anything unless they wanted me to feel something. Narcissists create an intensely confusing contradictory environment which requires a bit of insanity to survive it.

          It helps to be aware that some of your issues aren’t actually your issues – narcissists pass their wounds onto others and make others responsible for their problems. A narcissist parent hands their wound over to their child and the child may end up thinking that this wound is theirs, we try to heal what is not ours to heal, therefore it never can be healed. I sort of touched upon that in a post – https://anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/i-think-this-belongs-to-you/

          Take good care of yourself, be gentle ๐Ÿ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Sorry, I forgot to reply to this comment, but did connect to the links when you initially sent it. I’m not sure what’s happened to the first link coz it doesn’t appear to be working now. What you say makes a lot of sense and I will look into it more

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            1. No worries, I never expect replies, it’s always a bonus when someone does reply. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

              Yes, I noticed the other day that the link was getting a 404 error message. They’ve been rejigging their website, the article has moved here now – http://energeticsinstitute.com.au/narcissism-2/ – but the changes they made have messed with the formatting and it’s rather hard to read, it’s just one very long paragraph.

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  4. Great post! but I am hanging on the edge waiting for the find out what happened to the bigger bee. When you interefered did the bigger bee live? or did it die anyway because the smaller bee had drained too much of its life from it for it to recover? Or did it live and thrive and grow stronger because of the experience? and teach other bees how to avoid it happening to them? Curious minds want to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much ๐Ÿ™‚

      After I coaxed the smaller bee to let go of the bigger bee, the smaller bee flew off, however the bigger bee just kept crawling around until it disappeared into the undergrowth. I’m not certain what happened after that as I had to go and do human stuff, although I suspect it may be one of the new members of the bumblebee graveyard. You never know with bumblebees, they sometimes crawl around as though their time is up, they go to sleep, look like they’re dead, but then they wake up and fly off.

      They’re such intriguing beings. When I first moved here, since there were so many of them, they scared me because they come at you when you walk close to their hive, they nest in the ground, and they’re so big, but then I realised that they’re gentle giants. If you respect them, they leave you be.

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  5. So what was it doing to the bigger bee? Was it a drone trying to drag its queen back to the hive or revive her? Was it some deranged small bee who thought it would subdue the big bee and therefore be more ..? So odd. Such a good post though. I have heard the bees are dying idea going around, and it seems to be true. Up here, where orchards were (once) the mainstay for livelihood, that’s a disaster. But my friend says she knows someone who is a bee keeper and he tells her his bees are just fine, multiplying and making honey and going about their business without signs of giving over. I think personally that it is another sign that we have abused the earth to the breaking point and we continue to kill our source of food and life. And by doing that we will die too. Poetic justice maybe.

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    1. Thank you very much ๐Ÿ™‚

      There has been a lot of talk and concern in recent years about the status of bees. There’s an excellent documentary about it, can’t remember what it was called. But those are honeybees, rather than bumblebees. Some years ago a swarm of wild honeybees tried to set up shop in the chimney of my house, but then they realised it wasn’t a good enough home. I lit a fire in the chimney to put them off as it would have been problematic for the humans in the house. They gathered in a tree for a couple of days. The scout bee who chose the chimney probably got an earful of buzzing from the queen about that. A local beekeeper came by and tried to coax them into a box, but they preferred being free bees ๐Ÿ˜‰

      The smaller bee in this scenario, I’m fairly certain, was a cuckoo bee and it was trying to kill the bigger bee (by hugging it to death perhaps). Cuckoo bees kill queen bees and take over the hive, although I would have thought that it’s a bit late in the Summer for that.

      Where you live sounds beautiful!

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