Live and let fly

Last weekend I had a close encounter with a small bee. Not a very distinguished specimen, just an ordinary worker with the extraordinary bad luck of being trapped in our house. She must have been with us for quite some time because she was lethargic and easily caught in a large glass for swift relocation to the great outdoors. At arm’s length, I tipped her onto a flower and assumed she’d fly back to the hive. Heck. If she belonged to the beekeeper at the bottom of our lane, she could even walk home. I returned to the sofa feeling ridiculously proud of my bravery on behalf of Planet Earth.

Because I have ‘a thing’ about insects and arachnids. I don’t ‘do’ them. In my book, insects are the Slytherins of the animal kingdom. Their sidekicks, Arachnids, have more legs than necessary. And I just shuddered while typing that.

But I’ve had a slight change of heart. In the name of novel research, I’ve been devouring non-fiction about life in trauma and emergency units, and I’ve rapidly concluded that all life hangs by a thread and should be valued.


Before you start slowly backing away at the thought that it’s taken me LV years (I wrote that in Roman numerals to prevent passing out at the enormity of the age admission) to catch on to the sanctity of life, I’d like to state that I’ve always been a friend to animals. I’m the twit who desperately roots for the wildebeest and then feels dreadfully sorry for the hungry lion cubs.

Need someone to carry frogs or snails to safety? Call me. And I’ll happily consult the experts on behalf of a sick sparrow or fish. Resuscitating rodents is my particular forte, including the odd rat. Not that he was odd, on the contrary. He was incredibly sweet. We named him Basil, and he needed a little towel massage to get him over the paralysing shock of being bullied by our dog. I popped him back down his hole, rolled some dog treats in and hoped for the best.

But insect rescue? Not on my watch.

That having been said, to my knowledge I’ve never killed a bee. Bees are special and the world needs every one. However, imagine my dilemma the following morning, when, home alone, I found our bee sitting exactly where I’d left her. Under no theory could that possibly be normal. The little lady needed help. Grrr.

Snapping off the flower stalk at a decent distance from the bee’s stinger, I placed her on a shallow lake of sugar water. She stuck her feet in first (between us, I suspect she was so stressed that she slid off the stalk), then licked them clean. Then leaned down to drink. A short while later, she flew high into the air and disappeared towards a neighbouring garden.
The whole episode took a fascinating ten minutes. Probably less. That little bee lived to tell the story. I was tickled pink, but my newly-awakened respect for all life posed an awkward question: would I have been equally willing to help a wasp? Or would the fact that those yellow-legged scoundrels are endowed with a wicked sense of humour have prevented me from offering bed and breakfast to such a dude in need? Hmm.

So, I’ve had a rethink. My mantra this summer will be live and let fly, a sentiment that I would like to extend to all members of the animal kingdom.

Cute wasp!

Now, I’m no fool. I know foxes need to feed their cubs, and lions are hard-wired to hunt anything edible that the BBC is aiming to film. That’s all part of the great circle of life. I also eat meat. With relish. But we humans don’t need to swat a bug’s butt every time one crawls through a crack in a window and then fails to exit through the wide-open door.

It won’t be easy. This summer, I’m hoping no ant colony chooses to invade the cottage, that no mosquitos move in prior to bedtime, that no stripy dudes from the dodgy end of the gene pool decide to build a new pad on our doorstep. Fingers crossed.


Truth be told, I’m not sure whether my benevolence will stretch to arachnids. I suspect not. I shall return to the old-fashioned method of turning white and hollering, “Arne!” My husband, the spider whisperer.

Well, they do say opposites attract. 😉

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