"Must ipso facto, half not be.
But can a bee
Be said to be,
Or not to be,
An entire bee,
If half the bee
Is not a bee,
Due to some
"Lah dee dee, one two three, Eric the Half a Bee,
A B C, D E F G - Eric the Half a Bee:
Is this wretched demi-bee,
Half asleep upon my knee
Some freak from a menagerie?
No! It's Eric the Half a Bee."
Ground bees are the bane of my life at this time of year.
Well, when I say "ground bees", I'm not sure if I mean bees that live in the ground as opposed to a hive: I'm a botanist, not a - er, what's the word for someone knowledgeable about bees? Not lepidopterist, that's butterflies: apiarist? *rushes to look up correct word on google* Apiarist = "person who keeps bees". Well, that's close enough for the purposes of this conversation.
So, what bees do I mean? At this time of year, I find a lot of large bees - the sort that I (not being an apiarist) would call bumble bees, big fat black and yellow ones - dozing at ground level, tucked in amongst vegetation or sometimes, apparently, under the surface of the ground.
This means that when I am enthusiastically weeding borders, or tidying up old foliage of perennials, I keep disturbing them: the first I know is usually loud and indignant buzzing, at which point I stop what I'm doing and gently turn over whatever soil or debris I have just moved, to try to find the bee without squashing it. Then I have to gently persuade it to clamber up onto my hand (gloved, of course - I'm not daft) so I can carefully transfer it to a part of the bed that has already been weeded.
Rudimentary google research indicates that bumble bees are the ones that buzz - thus confirming my identification, hah - and yes, they do actually nest in the ground. So it would seem likely that early in the mornings, they will be crawling around at ground level, waiting for it to get warm enough for them to get airborne.
These will be different from Leaf-cutter bees - we learned about them last year, do you remember? - who lay their eggs in cocoons made from leaf material, in tunnels underground.
(Did I just say "tunnels underground"? Can there be such a thing as a tunnel above ground? No, so that was a stupid thing to say, wasn't it? I do apologise. I think "tautology" is the official name for this ailment, isn't it?)
So where does the half a bee thing come in? Well, there I was, clipping the edges of the lawn with my long-handled edgers, and: - do you really need me to continue? Are you cringing already?
Yes, there I was, clip, clip clipping, at my usual high speed: and then there was some indignant buzz, buzz, buzzing.
I admit it, I closed my eyes. Just for a minute. But then I had to go down on hands and knees to take a close look, and yes, it was a big furry bumble bee, and it appeared to be still alive and indignantly buzzing although it did (warning: if you are of a nervous disposition, stop reading now) have only five legs.
Aaargh! I feel like a murderer! Can a bee survive having one of it's legs cruelly chopped off - albeit innocently - by a passing Gardener?
I do hope so!