In Scotland, Fiona Presly had a fateful encounter in her garden last year that would forever change her perspective on bees and lead to an extraordinary and heartwarming bond.
While tending to her garden, Fiona nearly stepped on a disoriented queen bumblebee. Instead of harm, she extended a hand to offer the bee a place on a nearby flower, but to her surprise, the bee walked onto her hand instead. It was at this moment that Fiona realized something was amiss with the bee.
Upon reaching out to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust for guidance, Fiona learned that the bee had likely contracted a virus that had hindered her wing development. The prognosis was grim; the queen bee’s chances of survival were slim.
Determined to provide a safe haven, Fiona decided to care for the bee. She created a dedicated garden space for her, complete with an abundance of flowers for nourishment. Protective netting was placed over the enclosure to ensure that other bees wouldn’t pilfer Bee’s precious pollen, and a tiny house was added for shelter.
Over the days that followed, a unique bond began to form. Bee exhibited visible signs of happiness when Fiona visited, eagerly approaching her as if to greet her. The bee didn’t seem to mind being handled and even made soft buzzing sounds in close contact with Fiona. Their connection deepened, and Bee felt entirely at ease with her caregiver.
This surprising behavior was not lost on bee psychologist and behavioral ecology professor Lars Chittka from Queen Mary University of London, who explained that bees are inherently sociable creatures. He noted that a bumblebee queen typically thrives in the presence of other bees and likely found comfort in the companionship provided by Fiona.
Fiona diligently cared for Bee, providing sugar water when necessary and taking her indoors on chilly days. Their bond grew stronger, and their mutual companionship was a source of comfort and joy.
For an incredible five months, Fiona and Bee shared moments of togetherness until one day, Bee peacefully passed away in Fiona’s gentle hand. Adult bumblebee queens typically live through spring and summer, and Bee exceeded her expected lifespan under Fiona’s loving care.
While Fiona felt a sense of sadness upon Bee’s passing, she recognized that it was an inevitability. Bee’s extended life was a testament to their unique bond and the care she had received. Bee was laid to rest in the garden amidst her favorite flowers.
Fiona remains in awe of the profound connection she shared with Bee. This remarkable friendship has transformed her perception of insects, fostering a newfound appreciation for these tiny creatures. As Fiona aptly puts it: “Now I view all insects in a different light. It’s changed my perception of what insects are like. I think there’s an awful lot we don’t know”.
This heartwarming tale of an unexpected bond between a compassionate human and a fragile bumblebee serves as a reminder that extraordinary connections can be formed with even the smallest of beings.