So, what’s my relationship with the humble (or bumble) bee?
As a kid growing up bees were not seen in the most positive light. When I used to live in Texas, there was a big wooden playground right outside our apartment. Anyway the thing used to be a magnet for wasps, and their associated nests. Luckily we don’t have such a big wasp problem here in Sydney, but in America they are pretty common, and pretty terrifying. Suffice to say, I did not develop a great friendship with any black and yellow flying insects with stingers.
This opinion sort of faded after I left the states, and bees just became one of those things that you had to contend with when rolling around in the clover on the school oval. All that was really told to us was that some people were allergic to bees and that if you were ever stung, to remove the stinger and go see the nurse. I feel like a lot of kids don’t really get the opportunity to appreciate what goes into growing and sustaining the food that they eat every day.
At my primary school we had a garden with chicken, and worms, and some veg growing, and I would love to see classrooms adopt more efforts to connect children to their natural environment. I remember vividly when a hive started in my bedroom wall at my childhood home. For around a month I had the comforting hum and thick smell of honey surround me as I slept on my top bunk. The wysteria outside my window would be filled with little buzzing bees nestling into the purple flowers. I remember seeing the occasional one floating around in circles in the pool, which I would promptly rescue and leave to dry in the sun. Then my mum went ahead and got a pest control guy to come and poison them, because it would be too expensive to try and remove the hive while saving the bees. I missed that honey smell, and I was resolved to look after any bee I came across in the future. I hope to live in a world where other kids can have fun experiences with bees like I did.
There are some great urban bee movements where they are putting hives into classrooms, to educate kids on how great bees are, and their importance. If we want to approach conservation seriously, I think we have to start young and foster a generation of environmentally conscious children, to which bees would form their own little nook.
So do your best to give a help to any bees you see, and maybe some day you can enjoy the companionship of a fuzzy friend as well.