You know in the past when you saw a bee, you’d start flapping your arms around and opening windows and shouting ‘a bee, a bee!’ as though a venomous winged reptile was preparing to dive bomb your head. You might have even reached — whisper it — for a rolled up newspaper.
Now that bees (and newspapers, but let’s not go there) are on the endangered list, attitudes have changed.
Not so much screaming and arm waving when a bee appears as worried concern; are you alright? Do you need a lie down? Maybe a sandwich?
Please don’t die, or we all die with you. Seriously. Have a rest on that flower, I’ll keep an eye out for predators. What, you don’t have any, apart from humans? God, sorry about that.
This is what is running through my head as a bee bangs itself against the wrong side of the kitchen window. I rush to open the door for it, like an obsequious hotel doorman.
It keeps propelling itself up the glass, buzzing furiously, then abseiling back down again, oblivious to the open door an arm’s length away. Stupid bee.
How long before exhaustion sets in? I have already seen four dead bumble bees on my dog walk earlier, little furry corpses strewn across a path in a field.
Dread sets in. I have to free this bee.
I should mention I have an allergy to bee stings — I puff up like those deadly Japanese puffer fish — which makes the following even more heroic: using a reuseable bamboo coffee cup (because I am now properly virtue signalling, and anyway I couldn’t find a clean glass), I trap the bee inside against the window pane.
Except I can’t see what I am doing — it’s bamboo — and accidentally injure the bee. Not fatally, but enough for it to qualify for some kind of disability allowance.
I place it carefully on the ledge outside the window, and wait for it to fly away, giving me the thumbs up over its shoulder (do bees have shoulders?) It doesn’t budge, apart from its sides huffing in and out like an exhausted athlete.
I wait for the velvet voice of David Attenborough to download inside my head, and sure enough, it does: sugar and water on a spoon. This is how you revive knackered bees. (Turns out he never said that — but I don’t realise until later, when the editor messages to say stop spreading fake bee news, that feeding them sugar interferes with pollination).
Except there is no sugar in the house. Would powdered stevia be like giving it crack? I pour some maple syrup on a spoon, and hope the bee doesn’t mind that it’s from Aldi and not organic.
It climbs in, perhaps mistaking the syrup for a bath, and gets its wings hopelessly glued up.It cannot move. Stupid bee. I’m sweating now. What would David do?
Unfortunately, David has gone offline in my head, so I pour some tap water over the bee to sluice off the syrup, but this proves too much. The bee keels over onto its back.
Its legs are no longer moving. Dead as a dodo. Reader, I killed it.