We started noticing a worker bee lingering around the pot of sage on my herb cart in the garden. The bee was uninterested in any of the blooming flowers nearby, or even the herbs themselves preferring to stay near the drainage hole at the bottom of the container. I assumed it was thirsty, and was able to extract water from the roots of the plant, but after a bit we noticed the bee would visit whether or not I had watered.
Curious to see what would happen, I moved the pot. The bee continued to visit the cart acting confused, and remaining where the pot had been. I felt bad about that, so I replaced the sage, the bee returned, and all was well.
Fine. I have birds, a squirrel, and a fern caterpillar in a jar that has formed a chrysalis-why not add a bee to the wildlife discovery centre that my home has become? Really, I'm not kidding. I have moss samples in terrariums, rainwater samples for the microscope, more rocks than the geology department at the local University, plants to attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and as we've just discovered, bees. I should charge admission.
She's a worker bee (you can tell by the shape of her body, and the fact that she has a stinger-drones do not). We haven't seen any others, just this solitary bee buzzing at the sage plant's roots. Bees have a short life cycle, and by the time they are out foraging for pollen and water to bring back to the hive, their lives are nearly done. We watched her fly off over the row houses across the street towards the park, each time she would depart out garden. Between twelve and fifteen minutes later, she was back until the early evening when her visits stopped. By mid-morning, she had returned and was happily drinking from the planter again.
Obviously, if I must have a bee taking up residence in my herb garden, I'd prefer she do some pollinating work. Thus far she appears to be drinking and leaving. She is however, a well-tempered bee that keeps clear of us, even flying off when I'm watering the plants (Wish I could say the same for the wasps). I don't expect she has more than a few weeks left, but it will be interesting to observe her activities in the meantime. We took a quick walk around the block looking for a hive, but didn't notice anything obvious-it would be quite small at this point. At first I was concerned she might be tunneling in the plant as some bees do in the ground, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
The colour in this photo is accurate-she has a sort of rust tinge to her body. Danny's spent several hours total observing her work, and though he's still phobic when it comes to stinging insects, he seems to have made peace with this particular bee-at least from the safety of the opposite side of the screen door. I don't see beekeeping in his future, but I'm pleased that he has the patience to sit quietly and observe for long stretches. I wouldn't have done that at ten.
When my dad was alive, he worked as a food distributor of mostly pickled products. Being a cheapskate thrifty, he never bothered to get air conditioning in his truck, preferring to drive with the windows down. In the summer, this could be a problem, particularly if he was delivering barrels of sweet pickles, or cauliflower relish. More than once, he would return to the truck after making a delivery to find it swarming with bees. Once, after making the mistake of parking it near a flowering tree, he had hundreds of bees buzzing about the barrels trying to get at the sweet brine. Not the sort of person to let a swarm of bees disrupt his schedule, he lowered the windows and then headed out on the road, bees blowing from the windows. I only remember him being stung twice in all those years. My dad would insist that the bees weren't interested in him, and therefore there was nothing to worry about. I'm hoping his theory was correct, because I now have a bee living in a pot of sage near my front door.