Telling the bees

There is a traditional European custom known as “telling the bees” in which one had to inform the bees of any major events in the life of its keeper. If the bees were not told, they might leave the hive and there would be no honey.

Hence, bees were included in the family circle when it came to learning of funerals, weddings, births and so on. Bees have a place of significance in many spiritual traditions as well.

Though the bumble bee is not typically a “kept” bee, I often converse with those I encounter and invite them to visit my garden.

On May 8, 2015, I was blessed to receive this glorious image of a dear bumble. In a seemingly unrelated event a few weeks later, my heart said, “Yes” to God in a deep and mysterious way.

It was not long after that that I found myself using this image to design a postcard with the caption Say “Yes!” on it.

I’m sure that no one else could make sense of this caption. But I simply had to “tell the bee”…




Beautiful Bumble

I hunger for spring – and today was one of those February teasers here in NE Ohio.

With plenteous sunshine and temperatures in the high 60’s surrounding us, our imaginations begin to fly. We know it isn’t so, but we indulge ourselves with assurances that, “Yes, it’s coming! Spring is coming!

And so I share with you today perhaps the most beautiful bumble bee image I have. The bee looks like any other bumble bee, I suppose, but it is engulfed in spring blossoms so lovely that I can almost taste them…

Mmm…drink deeply, my friends. It’s coming…

Flight of the Bumblebee

A most exciting adventure has unfolded today as I set out to continue my tribute to the bumble bee.

It entered my mind that our dear bumble has not only inspired poets, as celebrated in yesterday’s post, but also musical composers. Most notable, of course, is Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee”.

And then there is the jazzed up take-off on this classical favorite, “The Bumble Boogie” by Jack Fina. (As a child, I tried to learn this piece, at my father’s request. Ah, but my poor little fingers were no match for the music, though my father was too kind to ever say so.)

So I was thrilled when first, I found a recording of the former in the public domain (played by the U.S. Army Band). Then, I found a YouTube video of Liberace playing both the classic and the boogie.

Talk about a trip down memory lane. Watching Liberace’s fingers was not unlike watching the wings of the bee itself, so fast they flew.

But, alas. I had used my only image of a bumble in flight yesterday. How could I offer an image of a bee that was still (are they ever still?) while notes and fingers flipped and flapped, swung and swayed, setting the keyboard a-buzzing?

I could not rest until I had scoured my entire electronic cloud of images. Perhaps there was another – an image I did not remember receiving or one whose flying bee had gone unnoticed.

A trip down a different memory lane, as I have traveled back in time through innumerable photos, all the way to 2010 when I began my venture into photography with my first little point-and-shoot.

With its significant shutter lag, it seemed improbable that this old friend would have received an “in-flight” image. But improbable is not impossible and so I searched. And searched.

And, with a bit of much overdue editing, here is the image found – a bumble bee in flight:


And so it is time for music!

For the U.S. Army band’s classical recording, enjoy this mp3 recording:

And, of course, here is Liberace…


Things that fly…


The image of a bumble bee in flight…still hopeful, this bee. Despite its limp and curling petals, the tulip holds some promise. A bit of nectar perhaps. Some pollen to be gathered?

Emily Dickinson mentions bees rather often in her poetry. Let us continue our tribute to the fine bumble with some of her verse:

Some things that fly there be,—

Birds, hours, the bumble-bee:

Of these no elegy.


Some things that stay there be,—

Grief, hills, eternity:

Nor this behooveth me.


There are, that resting, rise.

Can I expound the skies?

How still the riddle lies!

                                                                              – Emily Dickinson


Both the poet and the bee – manifest Divinity – to Him all glory be.

Taste and see…

Some say that bumble bees do not make honey. But this is not entirely true.

I suppose it depends on how one defines “honey”. Like many other bees, they draw nectar from flowers and bring it home to feed the others in their hive. This food is their “honey”.

Bumble bees typically have only 50-100 bees per hive, many fewer than honey bees. Also, they generally store only a few days worth at a time. So, fortunately for them, we humans don’t find it worthwhile to try to harvest their honey.

But it is sweet. (No, I haven’t tasted it – but I have read accounts of those who have.)


How extraordinary that the psalmist suggests that we taste God. We know of the Eucharistic food, which enables us to “taste” Christ, but psalmist did not.

Still the author gives us images of His sweetness: “How sweet to my tongue is your promise, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119: 103).

Let us drink deeply of His sweetness and, like our dear bumble bee, feed others with His goodness.

To Him all glory be.

The humble bumble

Continuing my photographic tribute to the bumble bee…

This humble bumble bee is simply going about her daily task of spreading pollen and sucking nectar. She will repeat this many, many times and with many blossoms, in the course of a single day.

Note the brushes on her rear legs that help collect the pollen. If this is indeed a female, the pollen baskets on her inner legs are not yet full – or we would probably see them. She also has a honeystomach in which she stores nectar to deliver to her hive and to nourish her as she works.

Her body was perfectly constructed to carry out the tasks for which the Lord God made her.


Such an ordinary thing on a summer day…bees in fields and gardens, skipping from one flower to another. How important can their task be?

Because of these tiny buzzing creatures, our world is able to feast, not only on beauty, but on many and varied nutrients that keep us alive and healthy.

How glorious is His plan for us! May we treasure and protect His workers always…

My friends are dying…

I began composing this post as tribute to the rusty-patched bumble bee which was slated to be put on the list of endangered species in order to protect it from what appears to be a rapid path to extinction.

As I just now went to check some of my facts, I encountered a news item that breaks my heart further: the current administration has delayed the protection of this endangered pollinator. Really?

How many times and in how many ways can my heart be broken?

While I understand that some feel that restrictions are hard on the agricultural industry, could we have such an industry if we had no pollinators?

We humans think we are so clever. With the declining bee population, we commercially rear bees to pollinate crops. I guess we think we can do a better job of it than was in God’s design.

Yet one of the leading hypotheses for the dramatic decline of the rusty-patched is that these commercial bumbles spread a virulent pathogen to the wild bees – and they had little resistance to it.

So, with a heavy heart, I continue my tribute to our dear pollinators, innocent victims of human sin.

(The bumble bee below may be a rusty-patched, though I am not certain. The image was received in 2015. I will post more bumble bee images of a different variety over the next week. They are all dear and at risk.)


To read more about the plight of our beloved bees, please read: