The birds and the bees

beewbeerI was enjoying yesterday afternoon in the best possible way: lounging on the deck, a book in one hand, a frosty pint jar of beer in the other. The book was excellent: intelligent, eloquent and occasionally poetic, full of eminently re-readable sentences. Not a one-beer book, in other words.

But before I could return from my fridge with Brew #2,  a honeybee found her way into the inch of Brew #1 still remaining in the jar.  I fished her out, placed her gently on the deck rail, and watched.

She’d been sloshed,  and it was evident that even the encouraging warmth of a dry sunshine wasn’t going to be a quick cure.  She was going to need a few minutes to collect her wits.


Eventually, she unglued one wet wing from her side.

onewingAnd then the other.

twowingsShe looked shiny and kind of …. happy.


When I looked up from the pages of my book a few minutes later, she was gone.  I didn’t see her take off,  but I like to imagine a successful  — if slightly unsteady — flight to my backyard bird bath, where the honeybees congregate to drink water. This followed by an elaborate —  if slightly tipsy — bee dance conveying that that amber liquid is waaaay better.

I keep several bird baths for — well, obviously — the birds, but have delighted all summer to see the bees, too, making frequent use of them.  Their favorite is a monstrously heavy pedestal bath with a petal-shaped bowl.  For years, it graced my grandparents’ back yard in Illinois.

My grandfather was a chicken man, but my grandmother loved the wild birds.  So for years after he died, we would sit at her kitchen table during my visits and eat and talk and watch them drink and bathe — the chickadees and the robins, the cardinals and the finches.

When she, too, died, in 2011, the bird bath became mine, and the heated host to woodpeckers, grosbeaks and other feathered residents of Michigan’s wild and wintry Upper Peninsula. Two years later, when I traveled home to Colorado for good,  I wedged the heavy bowl and pedestal carefully between the bucket seats of the moving truck.

It’s a mountain bird bath now, frequented by finches,  towhees, sparrows and the occasional jay.  But no one has appreciated the little oasis more than the weary pair of robins who reared two broods beneath my garage eaves this summer.

Bathing season is coming to an end now:  I can feel it in the coolness of the pre-dawn air, and in the twilight that descends earlier each evening.  I love the fall, and even the winter, so I welcome the changing of the seasons.  But I will miss the birds and the bees, and look forward to their return next spring, as the wheel of our shared lives continues to turn.

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This post originally appeared two years ago.



    1. Thank you kindly!


  1. Funny Miss Cate. Now I got this image in my head of a drunk bee happily flying around, bumping into everyone and everything 🙂 You always mange to mix funny and serious in you posts. Great story.


    1. Thanks, Ann. I’ve just been hoping she didn’t bumble into the recreational pot store down the street and around the corner. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my, that would have been something to see 😉


  2. Waaay back in the day, I used to date this girl who identified heavily with bees. Like, seriously heavy duty, had tiny altars dedicated to the Melissae about her house. And weirdly enough? Her house was always surrounded by the most amazing flowers and bees and hummingbirds and whatnot.
    She was a particularly amazing gardner. 🙂
    It was a measure of how much I adored her that I continued to date her even with a no-shit-I-will-die-if-stung that I continued to see her. And as we aged and our interests diverged, she and I have maintained our friendship. 20 years now, changed feelings about religion (on both our parts), and yet…
    I can still visit her home and listen to the steady drone of the bees and the whipcrack of boy hummingbirds deciding who really gets that trumpet vine flower.

    Lovely post, as always. Thank you.


  3. originaltitle · · Reply

    Beautiful post! Thanks for sharing this! Your description of the bee reminded me of a short story called, “The Fly,” by Katherine Mansfield, but not as dark haha. It sounds like you’ve created a great environment for the flora and fauna in your backyard!


  4. johnsmith213231 · · Reply

    Really funny and then nostalgic. Loved it.


  5. LOVED your description. I am horribly allergic to bees, so the situation you described initially invoked intense fear. But, you described it in such a way that made it beautiful and light. Well done!


    1. Ah, thank you kindly. I’m fortunate to not be allergic to bee stings, so it’s easy for me and the bees to be friendly with each other. They are such beautiful little creatures.

      Liked by 1 person

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