Bumblebees and Electricity

If you read my email last week, you learned that hummingbirds can see colors that humans cannot. This week’s amazing animal is the bumblebee. Bees build up a positive electric charge as they fly. I’m tempted to touch bumblebees because they look so fuzzy and soft. But if they have an electric charge, will the bee shock me? Will the bee explode? Will I explode? That sounds like a mess to clean up.

The Wall Street Journal says they have tiny filaments all over their furry little striped bodies that detect the negative charge that flowers generate. I had no idea my daffodils, hydrangeas, and azaleas were electric. I have not been plugging my flowers in. Maybe this is why my hydrangea is wilting.

Back to bees. I‘ve also heard that a white-headed bumble bee will not sting you. Is that true? Do white-headed bees not have stingers, or are they pacifists?

I’ve been stung by bees who were not pacifists at least three times. Back in the ‘70s we had cars with no air conditioning, so on vacation we rolled down the windows. In the summer of 1975, a bee flew in through the open window and landed on my toe. I wiggled my foot and it stung me.

Fast forward to the ‘80s. I was a teen and a bee flew up my pants leg. I was unaware of her presence until I heard her buzzing. She said, “I took a wrong turn. Can someone let me out of here?”

I panicked.  My gyrations were a sight to see as I jerked around like I was filled with the Spirit in a Pentecostal church. I’m just guessing. I’m a Presbyterian, and we don’t dance in church no matter how much the Old Testament recommends it. The bee pleaded, “Please, Presbyterian, stop dancing. You don’t know what you’re doing. Stick to theology.” I kept jerking, so she stung me on the leg in honor of John Calvin, the patron saint of Presbyterians, if Presbyterians had patron saints. My third bee sting was on my birthday – my birthday! – at age 45. I stepped on a bee at the neighborhood pool, and he didn’t take kindly to it, birthday or not.

Maybe if I’d channeled my negative charge, the bees would’ve let me pet them on the head and there would have been no stinging. The All Wise Internet says if you want to pet a bee, be sure the bee is in a resting position. Pet the bee gently, and if they are uncomfortable, they will “raise up thier rare and the stinger would be pointed out at the rare of thier abdomen.” I copied that sentence directly from a website complete with the misspellings.  Maybe “rare” is Latin for the bee anatomical region “where the sun shineth not.” 

In the writer’s defense, English spelling and grammar were invented by a drunk man in an English pub. If you want reliable information, ask the bees about their rares. But not if they’re flying around an English pub licking up the beer spilled on tables. When bees get a beer buzz, they don’t give reliable information. I don’t know what alcohol does to a bee’s positive charge, but it can’t be good.

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