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June 5, 2008 Busy, buzzy bees

While I was taking my clothes off the line, I heard a vaguely menacing hum from over my shoulder. When I turned to look, I just saw Ama’s beautiful jjrda (garden), glowing in the morning sun. Then I looked a little closer. She has the only rose bushes in a hundred-mile radius, I suspect, and it was covered in bees. I think every flower had its own little buzzing visitor.

There was a long moment where my childhood instincts (“Run away, run away!”) battled my PCV/EE training (“Ooh, pollination and honey production!”). At one point, I thought the ancient fears would win – there really is something ominous in the droning of bees; maybe that’s why killer swarms make such good horror movie fare – but then I thought of the honey farming that may well be one of my secondary projects, and ecologically-savvy responsibility won out. I walked over to take a closer look.

There were several species roaming about, with an almost frantic edge to their movements. Their air of desperation made me wonder what bees do all summer. Springtime is flower-heavy, especially since there are so many apple trees around here, covered in apple blossoms for weeks, but then the blossoms bud into leaves, and the flowers are harder to find. There a few wildflowers near the lakes and rivers, but that’s about it. Maybe Ama’s roses make up a large percentage of the local floral options. Or maybe the bees are just so delighted to see these transplants from Kelaat Maguna (~150 km to the south) that they’re reveling in an orgy of pollination. I was reminded of a passage from Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver, where the botanist sister explains to the high school science teacher sister that plants do everything animals do – eat, travel, create ostentatious displays, compete, have sex – they just do it a lot slower.

I stood there for another moment in the bright Moroccan sunlight, drinking in the heavy, rose-drenched air (which can be smelled for about half a block in all directions), watching the mating dance of the roses… And then I brought my laundry inside and went back to work.

It’s a beautiful day in my neighborhood. :)

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps