While playing in the yard with my kids a few days ago, I spotted a carpenter bee buzzing on the ground. Unable to fly, the little thing wasn’t long for this world. I promptly forgot him. Carpenter bees aren’t known for their endearing qualities, so it wasn’t as though he would be missed among the many. But the trajectory of the bee’s life changed when my five-year-old daughter found him.
“Mommy, look at this bee.” She crouched, watching his noisy buzzing as he climbed and stumbled over blades of grass. “Why doesn’t he fly?”
“He’s old. I think he’s dying.”
She followed the bee’s progress for what must have been forever from the perspective of a five-year-old. But she was completely engrossed. The next thing I knew, she was caught in a fit of giggles. The bee crawled up her proffered twig, and the vibrations of his buzzing traveled up the stick into her fingertips. She squealed and dropped the stick as he almost reached her hand. She insisted I experience this funny sensation. My day stopped as I entered her world of curiosity.
Ellie and I have a thing for bees. We want our own honeybees someday. Everyday we walk the yard watching honeybees collect nectar from the clover taking over my yard. We’re hoping next spring will be our year to become official beekeepers.
She wrinkled her nose. “Will it sting me?”
I shrugged. “Bees are usually pretty nice unless they’re scared you’ll hurt them.”
She eyed her little friend. “Do you think he’s scared of me?”
With a few clicks on google, I verified my memory was correct. Male carpenter bees don’t have stingers. The little yellow spot on his face confirmed he was a he.
With this new information, she plucked the bee from the ground with her lithe fingers and let him crawl up her arm. Squirming and laughing at the prickle of his bee feet.
With a spark in her big blue eyes, she asks, “What should we do? He can’t fly.”
“He’s dying, sweetheart. I don’t think there is much to do.”
I guess I was wrong.
She made him a bed of clover in the grass and sang him songs. She giggled as he crawled over her fingers. An energy zinged through her, feeling fearless handling a creature that even grown people flee.
She tucked him in a little box that evening and offered him clover. She told me matter-of-factly that he was old and dying, but she would make him happy until then. As serenely as she spoke the words, she didn’t fool me. I caught the shimmer of tears in the corner of her eye she tried so hard to hide. She is her mother’s daughter after all.
First thing the next morning, she crawled into my bed with cupped hands. Asking a question she knew the answer to but hoped she was wrong. “Is he dead?”
The still, crumpled appendages left no doubt.
She curled into my lap and sobbed for a little bee. Placating statements swirled in my mind, but I kept my lips sealed and let her mourn unhindered. It’s a gift, allowing a person to shed tears without shame. I’m often too embarrassed of my own when they fall more freely than I’d like.
A carpenter bee is not considered man’s best friend. If you google ‘carpenter bee’ right now, you’ll find a myriad of responses regarding pest control. They do wonderful work of pollinating, but unlike the honeybee, they are not looked on with love by the general population. I guess because honey as a payoff is sweeter than holes being bored into your porch.
But one such bee captured a heart and changed a little girl’s day.
I’m not advocating starting up a carpenter bee rescue, per say. (Although if you feel so inclined, I know of a five-year-old that will support your endeavors) But, there are people all around you. Unseen people stumbling over the terrain of life. They can’t fly, or have forgotten how. Though the general population may consider them a nuisance or inconvenience, look on them and marvel at God’s workmanship. Show them love in some small way. Let your heart mourn and break like a child’s heart for the pain they carry. Those without a place to rest their head. Those who’ve lost their way. The lonely and forgotten, pushed aside by a busy world. Whoever they are, you’ll know them when you see them. I’m just asking you to see them. Maybe, like Ellie’s bee, there doesn’t seem to be much you can do. You can’t save the world, but you just might change the trajectory of their day just by stopping.