Now that winter is over in New England, and spring bulbs are blooming in my garden, I am filled with sweet anticipation for the coming months of summer flower abundance. My life has increasingly revolved around the change of seasons since I moved to a house with a yard a few years ago. Although I have always filled my apartments with houseplants, I had never really gardened outdoors before. I read up on which flowers and bushes would bring butterflies and birds to the garden and slowly began to learn how to become a “midwife” to plant life.
Soon, butterflies and birds did indeed begin to frequent the flowers and bushes in my yard. Unexpectedly, though, it was the bees that completely stole my heart. I discovered that there were at least 5 or 6 different kinds that visited the flowers, including honeybees and bumblebees. I watched them all and learned more all the time, just by observing their behavior. The evening that I discovered a bumblebee curled up for the night on the petals of one of my zinnias, I fell in love. I felt such tenderness, as if it were my own child.
Over the weeks and months, I found that bumblebees also “slept” on blanket flowers, bachelor buttons, pincushion flowers, sedum, cosmos, and the butterfly bush. Their most interesting bed, however, was the 6-foot-tall Joe Pye weed, which has large clustered fluffy pink blossoms. In the late evening, I would often find 8 or 9 bees on the different levels of flower clusters, snuggled into their own down comforters. When it rained, they would hang beneath the flower clusters, using them as umbrellas while they rested.
In the mornings, if it was cool or damp, the bees would often “sleep in” until the sun warmed the air. Sometimes I would see a bumblebee slowly stretching its legs, one by one, as if limbering up after its night’s immobility. I always wished them good morning and good night, and I believe they were aware of my presence as a “friend,” occasionally buzzing up to my face in greeting. I’ve had butterflies behave in a similar fashion, sometimes even landing on my chest or arm to sit in the sun. It was a beautiful life lesson about the conscious intelligence of all beings.
Bees, which many people hardly notice, provide irreplaceable support to the cycles of life on Earth by pollinating the flowers. The massive deaths of honeybees and bumblebees in recent years have been heartbreaking. The probable cause: pesticides and herbicides used by agribusiness, landscapers, and often homeowners as well. It is my hope that people will begin to understand the wisdom and urgent necessity of gardening and eating organically, for the health of our bodies, our planet, and all the creatures that inhabit it. You only have to fall in love with one flower, one tree, one animal, or one bee to feel the interconnectedness of all life. In one(ness) is the survival of all.
Note: A reader has reminded me that GMOs are another likely culprit in the collapse of bee colonies. Thus the key importance of the current consumer campaign against GMOs in the U.S. For more information, visit: http://www.organicconsumers.org/bees.cfm.