"a wonderful summer with a very special bee"
March 25, 2018 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Fiona Presly and bee behavior expert Lars Chittka wrote about Presly's pet wingless bumblebee [pdf] that she found last spring in her garden in Inverness. The Scotsman has an interview with them and The Dodo has a short account with many pictures.
posted by Kattullus (21 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
Awwww. I really needed this story today, thank you.
posted by sarcasticah at 1:15 PM on March 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

She totally missed her chance to name the bee "Eric".
posted by qwip at 1:31 PM on March 25, 2018 [13 favorites]

One of my people!

That virus that deforms the wings is crazy, thanks for pointing me to the insect virus rabbit hole.

Some of my favorite pets have been invertebrates. Even when my wife was breeding competition quality (yes it is a thing) freshwater shrimp we kept a tank for the deformed and not-to-standard ones and I loved them.

We had to fight the landlord to stop spraying the garden, and now my 5 year old and me keep tabs on the ants (more than 8 species! Including leafcutters!), the wasps (we've identified paper, mud and fig wasps), spiders (crab, wolf, assorted colorful jumping). We like to bring prey to the unlucky jumping spiders that ended up living in the shower. She is so much smaller than her sisters in the garden. I know animals hate it when you anthropomorphize them, so I won't say that the little spider looks happy to see us, and looks worried when we miss the usual bath time.

Last year one of our carpenter ants queens was a little small and was having issue raising her first workers. We gave her a couple of puppae from another queen and the extra workers helped her to take care and feed her own. She had a healthy 15 worker colony before I had to give her away to another bug lover.
posted by Index Librorum Prohibitorum at 1:33 PM on March 25, 2018 [34 favorites]

I was once camping in the desert, and as I was lazing around in the shade on my stomach and just sort of idly contemplating the small world in the sand in front of me, I watching some kind of larger fire or carpenter ants scurry about, and being a dumb curious monkey I picked up a single dry pine needle and began prodding at the ants.

Most of them ran away. But one ant turned around and reacted like a pet puppy. I stroked it's head and back gently with the tip of the pine needle and it arched it's back into it like a cat, then wagged it's thorax like a fat puppy. When I withdrew the needle it approached a few centimeters and was looking right at me and waving it's antennae at me.

So I pet the ant some more, just kind of barely moving the pine needle as it kept reacting and arching into it and butt-wagging like some kind of cat-dog for a good 5-10 minutes until it pretty much reared up on the back four legs and waved at me and ran off.

Still one of the damndest things I've ever seen.
posted by loquacious at 1:36 PM on March 25, 2018 [46 favorites]

Came for the MP reference, left satisfied.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:41 PM on March 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

She's so fuzzy!
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 2:00 PM on March 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

I wish it ended better, but such as it is with invertebrate life spans. But it looks like they made each other happy, so all's good in the end.
posted by Samizdata at 2:26 PM on March 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

What a great story!
Also, I feel validated. When I was a kid, I'd try to communicate with every form of life, and while my family acknowledged I wasn't too bad with the usual farm animals: cows, horses, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, they'd draw the line at insects. No one can talk with insects, they said. I wish they were alive now so I could spam them with these articles.
The next thing will be plants.
posted by mumimor at 2:30 PM on March 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

Like Samizdata, I knew that it would not end well, and too quickly, but I was still surprised how sad I was when the end did come.

Also, SCP-1470.
posted by yhbc at 2:36 PM on March 25, 2018 [8 favorites]

Am I really here tearing up over a bumblebee? Really? Yeah, really.
posted by Splunge at 2:57 PM on March 25, 2018 [16 favorites]

No coverage from the Bee Bee See?
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:15 PM on March 25, 2018 [6 favorites]

Also relevant: Ursula Le Guin's "The Author of the Acacia Seeds."
posted by emjaybee at 4:18 PM on March 25, 2018 [7 favorites]

Yeah, me too, Splunge.

I really enjoyed this lovely account. Thanks, Katullus!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:21 PM on March 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

One of those increasingly rare times when it seems, even if for the most fleeting of moments, that maybe humans aren't irredeemably the worst thing that ever happened to this planet.
posted by senor biggles at 4:59 PM on March 25, 2018 [6 favorites]

I saw this on The Dodo yesterday and told my bf "It's good to give my compassion a workout. I'm terrified of all buzzing insects but I can still feel sympathy for a bee."
posted by irisclara at 5:43 PM on March 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Fuzziest little crouton ever.
posted by The otter lady at 6:11 PM on March 25, 2018 [12 favorites]

I am really fond of bees. This teared me up. Glad this lady helped the bee. I had a similar situation with a large spider. She was so big I thought she was a hallucination. She had an abdomen nearly the size of a quarter. She hung out by my TV set. Spiders don’t live long. I found her dead shortly before we all had to move out of the rooming house because it got sold.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:56 PM on March 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

Came in for Eric.
Leaving whistling.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:03 PM on March 25, 2018

Loquacious, if it was in the arid chaparral desert it could have been a harvester ant, but I don't know where you would find a pine needles there, so it could have been a carpenter, they like a little moisture.

The oldest carpenter ants queen I know is 7 years old and has not slowed down too much in the egg laying. She does not like being disturbed, but some of her workers would not run away when gently brushed with the talcum brush (talcum is used to prevent any escapes) they would follow the brush like puppies when you're trying to sweep the floor.
posted by Index Librorum Prohibitorum at 8:51 AM on March 26, 2018 [4 favorites]

Huh. Well, some spiders manage to plan ahead with not much more in the way of neural power, so I guess I can believe a bee at least making the association of "provider of nice things" with a human, or at least the smell of a human?
posted by tavella at 9:10 AM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Adorable story. Thanks for posting this!
posted by homunculus at 11:03 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

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