Bees and Being: Soil and Spirit
By Jean Golicz, Master Gardener and Member of the Board of Mercy by the Sea
I typically dress head to toe for gardening, including gloves. Spending as much time as I do amongst the plants also increases the likelihood of insect bites, particularly ticks. Sometimes, however, I just can’t resist the spontaneity of wandering barefoot through the early morning dew to pull a few weeds.
This one morning I reached into the Blanket Flowers, Gaillardia, to dead head a few remaining blooms. When I withdrew my hand it was vibrating. It wasn’t painful, it just felt alive. When I opened my palm there was a bee inside. I tried to shake it off but it was so drunk with pollen that it just reclined in my hand sharing its joy with me.
When I was little, this early morning barefoot frolicking had resulted in a painful bee sting. It was my first realization that nature could be aggressive and just plain mean! Consequently, I now take all the necessary safety precautions. I wear garden gloves when I pick flowers. I wear a helmet when I ride my bike. I put on a mask when I go grocery shopping. I have matured, and in so doing, I’ve lost the spontaneity of youth. It was with deep gratitude that I shared a fearless moment with this bee who was deliciously drunk on pollen. I too felt intoxicated by the warmth of kindness. My garden companion had no intention of stinging me. This lovely creature was to be enjoyed, not squashed and sprayed into oblivion. Having entered the garden that morning free of adult fears, I allowed another creature to just be and in so doing, my own state of being was enhanced. Like my new-found-friend, I was drunk on sweet pollen and summer sunshine.