I was afraid of bees when I was younger. Part of that fear, I’m sure, was fueled by my father’s story about chopping up an old wooden table out in the country and finding there was a hive underneath. The ensuing angry swarm chased him into the cabin. When things finally calmed down, he quietly left the cabin, got into his car, and proceeded to run over the table. A thick black cloud of bees covered the car, as if sensing the real perpetrator was inside the machine, and desperately tried to find a way in. Defeated, they eventually left.
Personally, I’ve only been stung a couple of times. Once on the bottom of my foot while running shoeless in a field of clover.
I’ve also been afraid of wasps and hornets, maybe more than of bees. Wasps just seem more intimidating, even evil. I’ve been stung by them, too. It was scarier and more painful.
Yellow jackets were just a nuisance, and I learned early on that I could just swat them away with my hand.
So spraying poison on bees and wasps and their nests was never a problem. I didn’t want them stinging me or my family.
That changed a few years ago. I was tending our vegetable garden, manually removing cabbage worms, when I noticed a hornet descend on one of the worms and carry it off to it’s nest in the eaves of my shed. And just like that, I was done killing the stinging insects.
The cabbage worms come back every year. But each year, there are fewer hornets. They don’t try to start nests in my shed anymore.
On one of our afternoon walks, my wife and I were on a trail beside a large field of clover. To my dismay, I couldn’t see a single honey bee on any of the little white flowers.
Lately, I only see the carpenter bees running their patrol patterns near my roof.
I’m thinking about one of the Alan Watts lectures wherein he illustrates the unity behind the mutual arising of seemingly separate things. His primary example is that there are no flowers without bees, and no bees without flowers. And I’m wondering what it is that we may have done.