Small Hurricanes

Bumblebee 3Bumblebee 2Bumblebee 3

Fun fact:  Bumblebees sweep their wings back and forth (rather than up and down) to fly.  The angle of their wings also creates vortices in the air — like small hurricanes. The eyes of those mini-hurricanes have lower pressure than the surrounding air, so keeping those eddies of air above its wings helps the bee stay aloft.  (

But before we get to the bumblebees, we need to acknowledge the rain.  I’m trying to learn to love the things I hate, and what better way to do this than to honor the rain with a poem snippet:

Let the rain kiss you. 

Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. 

Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

                      – Langston Hughes (April Rain Song)

So what’s new in my neighborhood?  Nothing and everything, I guess.

The blossoms on the magnolia tree in our yard came and went under a spring sky that hung low and gray for better than a month.  The sweet fragrance of the petals was a balm to winter-worn spirits.


Bloom time is brief, only about two weeks.  Unfortunately two days of rain and wind pulled the petals loose earlier than I might have liked.

I was feeling rather triumphant about a half dozen scrawny tulips in my flower bed until yesterday, when I was feeling baffled about the missing petals.  My lilac tree boasts five flowers this year, so that is a victory for sure.  (Our backyard is a super-highway for hungry deer.)

When the rain finally let up (about three days ago) I made my way over leaf litter down to our water’s edge to watch the sky for something impressive.  I startled an adult eagle and a great blue heron out of a pine tree and the cattails, respectively.   There was a bird in the osprey nest that I watched last summer, but my camera couldn’t pick up a good image so I’m not sure what I was seeing.  I could hear the osprey and I saw one hunting for dinner.  I also have had fun this spring watching the osprey come into our yard (and the neighbor’s) to take sticks for its nest.  Stayed tuned for a nest update.

osprey close up

Aside from black flies and the mystery nest guest, I found a pretty crazy looking mushroom growing up out of the pine needles.

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Knowing I couldn’t possibly top the excitement of great fungus photos, I retreated to the house.  And that is when I decided the bumblebees deserved my attention.

bumblebee 4

Anyone who has read this far into this post likely cares enough about nature to know that Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (“CCD” or “Oh dear, where are the bees?”) has become a serious problem.  But who cares, really?  They buzz in your ear.  Maybe sting you.  Good riddance to bugs that won’t quit bugging us!  What does it matter anyway?

Except that it does matter.  Bees pollinate 35% of the world’s food.  In 2015, 42% of bee colonies collapsed due to a combination of climate change, habitat loss and pesticides.

What can you do to help?  Hold off on the Roundup, for starters.  If you feel you can’t live without pesticides, at least consider organic pesticides, which are safer for bees.  You might also consider buying at least one bee-friendly plant, or go wild and buy several.  For tips on how to get started check out The Honeybee Conservancy website:

Even during dark political times, I remind myself of a quote that I had taped to my bedroom bulletin board through all of my high school years:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

     –  Margaret Mead

In other words, plant a flower for a honeybee.

2 thoughts on “Small Hurricanes

  1. These days it seems hard to trust in Margaret Mead’s words, but I am going to follow your advice and plant a bee loving shrub. Although I had heard about the plight of the bees I had not realized that over 40% of their colonies had disappeared!


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