Fuzzy little pollinators

DSC05532 This weekend we had our very first garden picnic of the season.  Dining al fresco, ooh la la! The garden is budding and dappled and I was thinking about what one year has brought.  It was one year ago that we first sat in this courtyard, before ever stepping foot into the house, when I got this calming feeling that this was, indeed, my own secret garden.  Beau and I were at the lowest of the low with family problems, and living houseless, and feeling hopeless.  Beau showed me a picture of the house and I said, “Sure whatever, let’s put an offer on it.” Then that same day we sat in the courtyard in a fog, me in actual tears, and I looked up at the trees hemming us in and… I knew. We walked into the house, and in a daze I looked into each room with half interest, trying not to get too excited because we hadn’t gotten our last dream house and houses were getting multiple offers much higher than we could afford. I turned to Stephanie (my cousin and realtor) and said in a sigh, “I love it, it’s perfect.” She said, “You do?!”

We decided that if we got the house we would name it The Burrow. I can’t remember if it was Beau or I who came up with it.  It was for the general feel of the place.  The tiny round entrance opening up to a larger house than you expect, with cramped unexpected turns and hollows, underground and up in the attic, and the extra courtyard room hidden in the back.  We briefly considered calling our house The Hive because the front door looks like a beehive door, and I call my boys “honeybee” because they’re so sweet. But The Burrow included foxes and owls and bunnies and hobbits.  And it nodded towards Harry Potter…and with a cupboard under the stairs, in the bedroom that would be Harry’s, how could we not?DSC05535

Now one year later, all settled in and enjoying the garden I knew would be mine, I was putting away the little dining table we have for the kids on the side of the house where we have some bamboo (barefoot!) and I realized there was a lot of buzzing all around me.

Of course I made the designated garden digging spot for the boys the same spot a hive of bees made their designated digging spot.  There were about 5o black bees with brown fur hovering lazily around me. I had never seen anything like them before, and at first screamed in a panic and made everyone go back inside.

“I wanted to find their honey.” Finn said. He had seen them going into the ground and thought it would be a good idea to unearth their home.

“fuzzy bees don’t sting you!  You can pet them!” Oliver said.

“Bubble bee.” said Harry.

I spent the next few hours examining the bees and trying to identify them (to see if I needed to get rid of them). They did not seem aggressive like quick wasps.  They were more like bumble bees, hovering interested in you then flying away. And bumble bees live underground, too, so I thought they might be some kind of miniature cousin. And their coloring was so strange! They looked like little bears with wings. Dark like European bees.

What I discovered was Digger or Miner bees are harmless, and if you happen to have them in your garden you should count yourself lucky.  They pollinate flowers and trees, a rare thing during this age of pesticides destroying bee populations. They come out during the spring to mate, but mostly keep to themselves, often living in solitary little dens. The males do not even have stingers! The females do, but they are homebodies keeping to their eggs and young. You may not even notice them under your feet, and they like it that way.

So there you have it. One whole year in The Burrow, and I am still being surprised by hidden treasures.  And as it turns out we can still use bee allusions because the bees who live here really do live in burrows! Here’s the first one:

Life in our Burrow is pretty sweet!

*artwork by me :) The bears are my three boys!


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