The bees are in their full fervor this week, after the heatwave has subsided and before the predicted heavy rains to come. The flowers are doing their best to be available for any and all dates with them.
The delicacy of this operation, repeated over and over by thousands of callers on each stem, is mesmerizing. It is not a great leap to imagine fairies with veiny fairydusted wings, or alien landing crafts with fractal carapaces unfolding with robotic minions to take over the planet. Our mythologies are only borrowed from the real world, and not much more exciting, it turns out.
A bee, like its mechanical analog the helicopter, is very hard to photograph in flight in any interesting way. It’s not the still-life but the continuing motion that captivates, the hovering and pivoting and darting and diving and caressing and floating still in space in turn.
This is how dicots and honey alike are born: The buzz of spinning wings approaching the target, then the line-up and clearance for landing, one golden-fleeced set of claws after another seizing the flowers for a big powdery boof of “Makeup!” right in the face, and then, with a tiny bee cough, perhaps, and a dram of sweet nectar in recompense, it’s a slightly more wobbly extraction and drunken liftoff, gaining bearings, turning, and then tilting momentum into a straight line again to the next helipad for another lovers’ rendez-vous.
‘Tis the high season. The flightpaths are thick with these very hardworking gigolos – the gigolos being actually female, of course, and the pollen technically male, but no matter. It’s a fertile confusion.
While I took these photographs, military jets were booming down the river valley, practicing our own human form of flight and asset retrieval. We are on high alert in France, as ever we are now, it seems.
The bees appear unaware of the supersonic cracks overhead, or maybe they just know all the more for the threat of thunder in all its various forms, to make fervent love between the scorching heat and the heavy rains, while the sun shines and the flowers are there.
I follow their lead in defiance of the worry over what might come, and collect all the nectar I can from them today, in pictures.