When it comes to human beings forming friendships with animals, there are some go-to cute and cuddly creatures that come to mind.
Dogs and cats are par the course, as are the occasional baby bear, or fox, rabbit, or seat-otter. But you know what demographic of critters gets zero love?
I mean, the very thought of seeing a bug gives people the heebie jeebies. I can't count the number of times I've been called into a room by a screaming family member to squish a spider or centipede in my house. Oh and if there's a bee chasing after me? I flip out and start practicing fake kung-fun like Mac from It's Always Sunny.
But this woman who found a lone bumblebee had the complete opposite reaction to my spazzing out.
Last spring while tending to her Garden, Fiona Presly noticed that there was a Queen Bumblebee hanging out by her feet. The bug seemed cold and out of sorts to her, so she carefully guided the bee onto her hand and then placed her on a flower.
But a closer look at the bug revealed something that shocked Presly: she didn't have any wings.
Presly didn't know how to help the little bee out, so she gave her some sugar water and put her on a bed of flowers. After she checked the spot a few hours later, she noticed that the bee hadn't moved. Knowing that a storm was coming that the bumblebee couldn't survive, she picked it up and brought it inside.
It rained that day and the day after, the entire time, Fiona cared for the bee, feeding it and protecting her from the elements. Wanting to know what she should do with her friend, she decided to contact the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
They informed Fiona that her newfound friend was most likely suffering from a virus that inhibited wing development. The Queen bee's chances of surviving by herself in the wild were slim-to-none.
Fiona saw that bumblebee was able to function perfectly fine otherwise, so she decided to come up with a way for her pal to enjoy her life: by making her a personal garden.
Fiona got a bunch of different flowers, all packed with yummy pollen for her pal (who she aptly named, "Bee") to enjoy. Bee now had sunshine and all the flowers she could want. Sure, she has to crawl to them to get at the pollen, but she doesn't have to worry about other bees getting at them before she can.
That's because Fiona put a protective netting enclosure over them. It's a private paradise - and it's all for Bee.
Fiona kept a close eye on Bee, bringing her cups of sugar water for an extra boost and bringing her inside if the weather was really bad.
After caring for Bee for some time, Fiona noticed something about the insect's behavior: everytime she went to her enclosure, Bee would crawl from out of the flowers as if she was greeting Fiona.
Bee would crawl right up to Fiona's hand and seemed to like being in her presence.
"It was like her whole being came to life. I think she liked the fact that she wasn’t alone. I think she thrived on company, even from another species. They are naturally sociable creatures. That would be in their instinct," Presly told The Dodo.
That's right, Fiona managed to forge an adorable bond between a bumblebee and now the two are inseparable.
"We were quite comfortable with each other. There were things going on with this bee that were quite something."
The normal lifespan of a Queen Bumblebee is only for a couple of seasons: building a nest and mating throughout spring and summer and dying before Autumn comes.
Bee had lived 5 months after Fiona first found her - much longer than the average lifespan of other Queen Bees.
One day, Bee crawled into Fiona's hand for a snooze. She didn't wake up.
"I was sad when she died, but I knew it was going to happen. She was already older than she should have been. It had been very special to stay with a wee creature, like Bee. The fact that she lived more than just a few weeks amazed me. That was rewarding in itself," Fiona told The Dodo.
Presly's experience with Bee is one that she says she'll never forget and that it's completely changed the way she's viewed insects.
"Now I view all insects in a different light. It’s changed my perception of what insects are like. I think there’s an awful lot we don’t know."
Moved by the time she spent with her friend, Fiona reached out to Lars Chittka, a professor of Sensory and Behavioral Ecology at Queen Mary University in London. She told him of the bond she formed with Bee. Chittka thinks that she may be on to something.
"Sometimes it takes an outsider’s careful observations, such as Mrs. Presly’s, to generate fresh views and prompt important questions."
So maybe think twice before you swat that bee or spray it. Then again, bumblebees are pretty cute and cuddly when compared to these disgusting and oftentimes, deadly, insects.
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