I was stung once by a honey bee as a kid. It hurt a lot. Even back then—I must’ve been about five—I saw the encounter as more my fault than the bee’s. See, I sat on it, and it stung me in getting away. I’ve been more careful since then and have not been stung again. I have been lucky enough to have some land on me as I marvel at their beauty and ability. If you are still, and gently move them back to the flowers, they do not feel the need to protect themselves with their stingers. At least, that has been my experience.
Now, I always keep an eye out for bees, both honey bees and their larger cousins bumble bees. The bees champion the arrival of spring as they move from flower to flower, spreading the pollen they collect. Because of them, flowers thrive. They also work together in hives, exhibiting persistence, collaboration, maybe even determination. And they produce honey—glorious stuff; the only insect producing a product consumed by humans. Honey bees also communicate by dancing and teach young bees how to make honey, an activity they are not born knowing. If you stand quietly and let the bees fly close by, you can often hear the literal buzz, buzz, buzzing that is so attributed to them. A fun little website explains that the honey bee’s wings beat 11,400 times a minute, generating that distinctive sound. And with those little wings, honey bees can actually fly up to six miles at a time at a speed of fifteen miles per hour.
“Aerodynamically the bumble bee should not be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” Mary Kay Ash
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I know some people are allergic to bee stings. And others are afraid of bees, especially the more aggressive Africanized bees often called killer bees. But, please, next time bees come into your neighborhood, take a minute to appreciate them—they help add a lot of beauty to our world. We also need to hope that they remain an integral part of our world. The following Nature documentary called Silence of the Bees (2012) details that honey bees are disappearing across the lands and speculates what devastation such annihilation could cause.