I Gave a Bee a Bath

Watching an incredibly large bumble bee buzzing around the flowers today reminded me of the day I gave a bee a bath.

A few years ago while trying to clean my old and very neglected paint brushes I had to resort to soaking them in a mason jar with turpentine. I prefer to use Murphy’s soap or linseed oil, but nothing I tried seemed to be working. I set the stinky jar outside on my deck and carefully tucked it in the corner away from any critters.

To my surprise a bee appeared. NO! I thought – don’t go in there! She hovered over it and buzzed. I assumed she would fly off. But she didn’t. OH NO! She was a queen with a big yellow furry circle on her back. I had to save her.

I used one of the brushes and gently lifted her out and carried her down to the grass. Her legs were covered in slime. She buzzed and waddled angrily. It was clear she couldn’t fly – the paint and turpentine slime must have been on her wings.

I ran inside and put some warm water in a glass. When I returned, I couldn’t find her. I could hear her, but I couldn’t see her. I approached slowly, scared she’d find me first. I listened and followed the buzzz. There she was struggling in the grass. I felt so bad. I told myself I was safe from her attack as long as her wings were wet she couldn’t fly. I don’t know how true that is, but it made perfect sense at the time.

I gently poured a little water over her back. She was pissed! But I could see it was working. The stringy slime was slowly rinsing off her hind legs. So I poured a little more water – and watched – poured more and watched – rinse and repeat – rinse and repeat, until I could see she appeared to be slime free.

I slid a stick under her and moved her a few feet over into the sunlight and away from the slimy puddle. I stepped back and watched her for a bit. She was still making a lot of noise, but she seemed to be more agile and less angry. I felt good, believing I had saved her. But more importantly, I hoped she believed it too!

Needless to say, I don’t use turpentine to clean my brushes anymore.

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