Of Beetles and Bees 


The Japanese beetles do quite a number on anything in my yard that bears fruit or sweet flowers: The plum tree, roses, raspberries, green beans.  This year I have a new mountain ash in the yard (bird poop transport), and the voracious beetles have even gone after that.  They skeletonize leaves, in case you don’t know.  But of the roses they eat all the flowers.  They have even gotten into my meadow.  I’ve never seen them eat cosmos flowers or zinnia leaves.  I have been treating the roses, ash, and plum tree with neem oil, and that does keep the little pests at bay from the roses and ash, and somewhat mitigates the damage on the plum tree, but I don’t want to use neem oil on the meadow because I want the bees and butterflies to come—that is the whole point behind my creating the meadow in the first place, so I don’t want to discourage these desired insects.  It is frustrating, no doubt.


Anyway, today there was a large bumblebee in one rose flower that burst open today as the bush began its second round of flowering.  It’s a prairie rose, to be exact.  These are such a favorite of mine.  They send me right back to that part of my childhood when I lived on a farm for a few years.  So much was wild, including the roses whose fragrance I loved as a kid.  Every time I smell one of those flowers, I’m transported back to that time where I didn’t know the treasure of innocence, of freedom to wander through woods, meadow, and pasture that had been mostly untouched by human intervention.  I picked wild fruits and ate or brought them home to my mother.  Strawberries grew in the ditches along the highway that rarely had a car pass; raspberries and blackberries grew wild along the railroad tracks or sides of the gravel roads I walked to get to the creek.


So, today, when I saw that single, seemingly oversized bumblebee, in that single prairie rose still on the bush, rolling over and over and over in all that pollen inside, I couldn’t help but think the bee’s expression was one of pure joy, of a kind of drunken pleasure felt in dutiful collection of all that powder-yellow, dusting of grains.  Since bumblebees get their protein from pollen, and their energy from a flower’s nectar, it could very well be this little critter was having a ball.  It stayed in the flower for at least ten minutes, rolling and rolling, and then it was joined by another bumblebee, and then a mason bee tried to get in on the bounty.  Too funny!  I ran inside for my camera, but too late.  I think I only got the mason bee.  No matter.  The bees are getting what I want them to have.


And tonight, in the meadow, a honeybee, a mason bee; a red dragonfly; all making me feel like I’m rolling in pollen, too—happy to think I am contributing, too, making the tiniest bit of difference for the bees and monarch butterflies that need all the help they can get, if we are both to survive, and begin to thrive once more, past the damage humans have done to this beautiful planet.