The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.” – Achim Steiner, Executive Director UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

The Idler can go months and months without ever thinking about bees, and then May will arrive and we’ll be strolling down the sidewalk whistling a happy tune and something the rough dimensions of a lug nut will appear in mid-air plotting a course directly for one of our eyeballs. Bumblebees can be nearly an inch in diameter including their furry covering, but luckily they’re not primarily interested in stinging people. Their main gig is to score some nectar from nearby flowering plants. It’s only a fortunate side effect that, in the process, they transport pollen from one plant to another. This is what makes the plants reproduce and is the “bee” part of the “birds and bees” talk. But if you start swatting at them, they’re likely to switch to plan bee. See what I did there? Also, if you’re sporting a crop of gin-blossoms, you might want to apply a little Deep Woods Off!®  just in case. Because bee stings can be painful. Not as excruciating as watching the Bucs play in St. Louis, but painful.


Speaking of the birds and the bees, isn’t the whole business intended to explain to curious young people where exactly they came from? There I was, fidgeting and rolling my eyes, expecting something possibly salacious and most likely embarrassing and what did I get? A clumsy pseudo-scientific dissertation from Dad featuring microscopic cells smashing into each other and stern warnings about all the trouble you can get into if you’re not careful. Sure the guys in the locker room filled in the more stimulating details but I already knew the important part of the answer to the where-did-I-come-from question. You knew it too, before you could walk or talk or ride a tricycle.

You came from Mom.

Everybody came from Mom. She knew about you before you did. She was probably aware of your existence within weeks of those two microscopic cells colliding. One of the first things she knew about you is that you made her sick. Usually in the morning. She didn’t mind too much, though, because it’s really a pretty small part of the decades-long ordeal of turning you into a functioning human being. Did you ever hear someone described as a “self-made” man or woman? That’s a good one. Who nursed them and changed their diapers and bathed them? Who sang lullabies for and played peek-a-boo with them? Who made sure they got to school, church, baseball, piano and dance practice? Sure Dads do lots of that stuff, but who made sure Dad did it?

Your Mom knows what color your eyes were before they assumed their current hue. She knows what kind of jam you like on your toast and what kind of toast you like under your jam. She knows who her daughter’s first boyfriend was and why they broke up (although Dad probably has his fingerprints and a DNA sample). She knows who her son took to the junior prom and made sure he got her a corsage that didn’t clash with the gown.

We’re not sure how we got from bumblebees to Mother’s Day, but here we are. Maybe you should follow the nearest bumblebee to your flower patch and pick a nice bouquet for Mom. You probably don’t even need a card, but get one anyway. Moms love cards. Make sure you sign your name legibly. And sit up straight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s