Overnight, a spider had spun an impressive work of art across the outside of my bedroom window, sadly though, I noticed that a bee had become trapped. I thought he was dead, and I was quite stuck by the sight that I decided to take a photo (which didn’t go as planned because nothing was ideal – the light, nor taking a picture through a double glazed window, but I took it anyway…..) thinking it might be useful for something relevant, and as I was looking through the camera, he moved and began struggling against the silk tethers. Fortunately our upstairs windows flip round so we can clean the outside so I thought it would be easy enough to set him loose.
I opened the window and found a False Widow spider sitting inside the void where the slider is, and I couldn’t flip the window without her moving, somehow. You may remember that I once commented on how being vegan was helping with my arachnophobia, but these kind, are still way out of my comfort level.
“This is not even funny”
I sighed, and very…. very slowly, I started to tilt the window to hopefully encourage the spider to back up, and she did, at first, but then she stood up on her back legs and when I moved it a little more, she darted forward quickly – that was me done!
I paced the room trying to work out how to get the bee – our ladder is far to short to reach upstairs, I couldn’t use water or a stick somehow because I’d likely drown the little creature or kill him by accident, and the longer he was there, the more tangled he was getting. I realized then, that while I was scared of the spider (no rationale for this – it’s just a lifelong phobia), this poor soul was about to be eaten by one. That for me is truly a horror movie worthy situation. I know even spiders have to eat, but I couldn’t see this live bee, and leave him to that fate.
Back to sliding the window, and the lady graciously stepped outside.
At first, I wasn’t sure what the kindest option would be because he was in a far worse state than I thought; couldn’t walk, wings stuck to his body, and he kept falling over. But we got this far, he was still alive. There was still a chance.
They’re so delicate that I didn’t know if I could help him without hurting him. But I grabbed a new cleaning cloth to give him something to get a grip on, and a nail file, and started gently moving the silk and fluff stuck on him. I wasn’t sure of the stress tolerance level these little guys have, so I gave him a break now and then, and after a while, I could tell we were getting somewhere because he was able to start helping – using one leg to try and kick it off the other, it was quite cute to watch!
When he was able to walk I used the nail file to hold down the loose silk and waited for him to pull enough that it broke away – I knew we were on a roll when he was running around, but he was running too much to get it off his wings, so I carefully held him still with the file, and gently rubbed his wings towards the back of his body, and slid everything off the end.
At one point, as I’m holding on to the backside of this bee, I ponder “Do these guys sting?” and for a moment, after getting over my own ignorance, I was slightly horrified at what I was doing if he does indeed, given that I have the weirdest allergic reactions to far too many things, but I decided that if it was going to happen, it would have by then.
It suits my mind to think somehow he knew I was only trying to help.
45 minutes later, he walked up onto my hand – which was terrifyingly wonderful (You may have gathered I’m not a bug person!), sat a moment, tested his wings, and then flew off out of the open window. I couldn’t help but smile!
Saving one bee may not save the world, but it will certainly change the future for that one bee. We don’t have to rescue them from spiders, but with 7 billion people on the planet, the greater percentage of us have the ability to at least do less to harm them, and can help with some easy actions.
Whether that’s making a source of water during times of the year bees are active and visiting your garden, terrace, balcony, or plant pots, leaving the dandilions, some nettles and daisies, not using harmful pesticides and lawn treatments, planting bee friendly plants, avoiding GMO foods and crops (which we know is healthier for us, too), or resisting the temptation to kill bees simply because they are bees.
This is not a joke: the future of our food supplies, and the health of our earth rests heavily on these tiny shoulders.
This is a hard world for all of us living here.