Nature's Place

Bee Odyssey

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It has been a tough season for the bees, with all the rain, constant and stuttering through the year and the apparent dearth of flowering plants – at least in the fields where I first found hundreds of them, now so few. Other, unnatural reasons too.

There have been more in my garden than I found in the wild, well enough I planned for it and kept something flowering, and something still – even though winter is upon us and the nights can be so cold, with a clear open star filled sky aswirl.

An occasional visitor now, so few to be seen, found atop the blue Salvia in search of nourishment, a resting place where the sun might strike come morning. I gave it a little honey and adjusted position for the light and warmth of the day, a warning.

We need our bees, not just for what they can do for us but for what they are and do of themselves in the order of things. We are the ones out of order, messing with what should be left alone, then messing again to correct our misguided interference – ad infinitum.

That’s just the way we are, until we are not. But what is it that wakes us? The pain of loss?

Oh well, then roll on … little beauty.

We’ll see …

Mark Berkery ……. Don’t forget to CLICK on any picture to enlarge it in a new tab – best in FireFox – for me


Surprise, Surprise …

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… as I was picking at the Passion vine a couple nights ago – checking for resting or sleeping creatures, clearing dead leaves from the tangle and pocketing the ready fruit, I noticed a curious thing.

One of the leaves I picked was long dead and brown, dried out and curled up, but as it plunged to the ground where it would join in the mulch a bunch of tiny bees fell out and spilled around, almost unnoticed.

I didn’t know they were bees until I took a few shots, being only 12 to 15mm long – my eyes not that good anymore, if ever they were. Then I put what I could find at the base of the vine’s stem and threw on a few more leaves for cover on the cold night, to increase their chance of survival, having disturbed it myself.

The next day I had a look around the spot and there they were, back on the vine, gathered on two adjoining leaves, exposed to the warmth of the sun and the coming night sky – it’s been getting cold here in Brisbane, believe it or not. Clearly they were attracted to congregate but I couldn’t tell anything of where they began their little lives, maybe in some of the hollow stems I put in the vine to encourage the smaller creatures to nest, those that do.

I have not seen the like before, apparently social bees without a home, living on the wing as a ‘swarm’ of around twenty individuals – actually they are a communal bee, males in waiting for a female who nest ‘communally’ nearby, not ‘socially’. That’s what happens when in the garden, the forest or field, aware I am not alone, delightful things appear. The truth of fairies and elves living at the bottom of the garden, in fact they are everywhere but are not what is imagined from the storybooks of old. The magical is still here to be seen, awake to the possibility, restrained from thinking too much – necessities for presence.

Presence, that’s the difference between the rapacious and the sustainable. The former born of wanton indulgence of the machinations of mind, the latter born of knowing enough its consequences. The one follows the other, unfortunate it would seem but misfortune is an unsustainable condition of mind so we move on regardless …

Mark Berkery ……. Don’t forget to CLICK on any picture to enlarge it in a new tab – best in FireFox – for me


Rain On …

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The weather is still changeable and a few bees still about. This one came out a bit different with Blue Salvia and reflective in the BG.

These bees just keep going no matter what, as long as the conditions are conducive … and it all changes in the blink of a storm.

Mark Berkery ……. Don’t forget to CLICK on any picture to enlarge it in a new tab – best in FireFox – for me


Are We There Yet? – In the Rain

I found her at night lying on a rain-soaked flower in the garden, some kind of Daisy, gripping by her feet and jaws. It had been raining and windy for two days and she was in danger of drowning or starving, even hypothermia since the rain went on for another few days – we have had floods again in Brisbane. So I fed her the smallest amount of honey, a tiny drop on the tip of the thinnest firm twig placed to her face and near her mouth. She wasn’t alarmed, in fact she gestured the cleaning of her face with her front legs, down towards her mouth, and showed more sign of life – a little unexpected movement.

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The next day she was still there so I took the flower and placed it in a glass with some water supported by thick dry tissue, to keep her from falling in the water. Then I fed her another tiny amount of honey, and she loved it. Immediately she was full of life and crawling about the new arrangement until she finally settled in the folds of the tissue where the water would be soaked off her body and she might warm up a little. Later I went out to see if I could get another shot and she was gone with the lull in the weather. Today, two days later, a similar bee, looking very healthy, landed on a nearby leaf as I was walking the garden – maybe her. Who is to know such a thing?

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It’s often considered an amusing expression of ‘teen’ impatience but I’d like to put a different slant on the phrase – Are We There Yet?

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Where is ‘There’? Surely it is where there is no more impatience? And if you take away impatience you have to take away so much else that is purely emotional, negatively so – as it contributes only to discontent, anxiety, future looking that divides the moment and causes inner (and outer) conflict.

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So ‘There’ is surely a place of peace, peace of mind – is there another kind, really? And I have to say ‘NO’ – doubtlessly. Just look around you and you will see everybody is discontent about something. I don’t want to turn this into a dissertation on basic human nature so I’ll stick to the big picture.

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Look into the news of the world, not just what your own local outlets produce, and join the dots. It takes a little time to get it but the picture is one of definite self-interest. Not just ‘do I have enough’, but do I have enough for every conceivable eventuality, as if to prepare for the worst. And most of all ‘Do I have what I want’, beyond what ‘I’ need.

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To do that requires you to ignore the needs of any who don’t fit your tribe. Yes, we are still tribal. You’ll also see that irrefutably expressed in the big picture, which is only a tapestry made up of all the little pictures. So you don’t really have to look far to see.

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And having seen it the question is ‘What can be done’? Well, there’s the question every sensitive soul has been asking since time began. The simple answer is you have to do what you are moved to address the injustice you see – or you are not being true to yourself, and that has serious long term consequences – both ways.

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Or there is the more pointed answer to the question ‘What can be done’? I write about it here all the time and every now and then someone comments that shows they get it – what I am really talking about, and it’s not macro or nature – or it is but not what you think.

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In fact I can’t write anything without pointing somewhat to the solution. When you have done what you are moved to do you have nothing else to do and you either find the truth of the matter or continue by the momentum of past behaviours – and do your best, if you do.

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Most don’t realise it but what we have on earth, as the world produced by thinking and emotion, is hell. Heaven is in the other direction, inside, the negation of thought and emotion – which of course is hell to anybody addicted to undisciplined thinking and emotion, but the withdrawals only last a while – hell ends.

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So if you want hell go on thinking and being emotional. But if you want heaven – and you have to really want it, just like any addict has to want to give up the object of addiction – you have to get serious. Serious is knowing what the problem is, really, and knowing what to do about it – a rarity indeed. And doing it.

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If you want to know the solution I have already outlined it in the first four pages top right, there is a logic to them. But to truly simplify it here I will tell you; if undisciplined thinking and emotion – which is what most people do and creates the existential world of good and bad – is the door to hell, the door to heaven is the pure and simple sensation inside the body – to which the natural senses are the existential reciprocal. ‘Right’ meditation, in other words.

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It’s that simple. And only when you have had enough of the one can you begin to really ‘get’ the other. And if that seems complicated that’s because you are thinking about it instead of sensing the truth or falseness of it, and just doing it. Or not doing it and just moving on to what is true for you now.

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It’s that simple but nothing good comes easy, until it does, but by another will than mine, or yours. And not without the endeavour – relentlessly.

Though the Sun will surely shine, don’t get caught out in the rain.

Mark Berkery ……. Don’t forget to CLICK on any picture to enlarge it in a new tab – best in FireFox – for me


Maternal Instinct

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The bee hotel referred to in the last post is actually a maternity ward. There are now eight or nine holes filled by the Orange Tailed Bees with eggs and what they need when they hatch. I have also seen the bees dig out the holes after an Ichneumon wasp has visited and taken advantage, by laying her eggs in or on the bee’s eggs.

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I suppose they are more a resin bee as they line and seal the nests with resin collected from somewhere nearby. Then they finish off with a layer of earth so the hole doesn’t look much different from the surrounding wood. They are very particular about this finishing process and it is the only time to get a shot of them, when they are in the open and fully focused on the nest. And until they finish a nest site they usually sleep in the hole and can be seen pulsing in the night light of a good torch.

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It is still very early in the year for bees and wasps so I expect there will be ample opportunity to observe the comings and goings about the bee’s ‘holed log’ hotel. And they are not the only bees to take up nesting there but the others are just too fast and small so far, to get any pix.

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Another curious structure has begun to appear at small holes around the house, and on another log of different wood that I also drilled for nesting creatures. It’s a wasp’s nest to which there is a mud tunnel for an entrance which the wasp takes much time to build. After the wasp is done the tunnel disappears and the hole is plugged with mud.

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All just going about their business, except for the ubiquitous ants who go about everybody else’s business, it seems – raiding smaller bee’s nests, at a cost. So I make it that the ants can’t have everything by hanging the nests from a rope or chain and make it impassable without wings.

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Such is living in this little piece of urban jungle.

Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture to enlarge in a new tab – best in FireFox


To Dream a Bee

Sorry, no bees today.

Yesterday while walking about the garden I saw this huge black and yellow bee, black bottom and furry yellow jacket, busy feeding at the still flowering Chia with its little blue flowers. The bee was the size of half my thumb, about 3.5cm long, and I later found out it is a Great Carpenter Bee.

It was the biggest bee I have seen and I didn’t have my camera with me, but she was moving too fast anyway. So I just watched as she flew from flower to flower and then away. It’s not yet spring here so this could be a good sign for the forms of life to come.

The weather is wonderful, bright, sunny and cool and plants are finding their place in the garden, before the spring starts up, to be ready for the hotter summer. I don’t decide where a plant goes, it tells me in no words at all.

It’s a form of communication you just have to be open to, after you’ve given up thinking reason is most important – it’s not, but has its place too.

So what I do is unpredictable, because life is unpredictable. Some would call me slow, I don’t mind, but I say ‘what’s the hurry’.

This afternoon I had to lie down for a while, to recuperate from recent exertions, and I had a dream. I saw a black bee swimming in the water – not an unusual sight throughout the year in the garden – and it was happy, a smiling bee.

Someone put a finger in to tickle it and it climbed out onto the hand and flew away. A wonderful little dream, to be a bee.

Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture to enlarge in a new tab – best in FireFox


Daisy – Oh Dai-i-aisy!

I never before realised how abundantly the common, and not so common, daisy caters to the need for pollen and nectar of the many small flying creatures in the garden. Not until I got a few and took the time to see.

Now I have four different kinds in the garden, one really finding its feet after transplanting a little while ago spreads and hangs over the sides of the pot, another pops up around the garden at will – its,The Will, and two more recent residents – one just doesn’t stop flowering in a ball of colour and nourishment, the other just starting out has two budding threads reaching for the light, one just opened today.

It’s nearly time to find a spot in the ground for the ball of flowers; it needs a secure home that isn’t dependent on my daily attention. And the one reaching will need moving to a bigger pot, for now.

I do enjoy these simple pleasures.

The Bees and Flies, and other visitors, are never far from the flowers and with the sun shining more now I expect more visitors in the relative heat of the day. As long as it isn’t too cold at night.

The garden ebbs and flows, ripples and eddies as much as the tides, but you need to be in daily attendance to notice.

It is music to the senses. Take the time to listen, even play along. Move that one to the sun, a little water there, repot, replant, nourish and tend them as if they were children – as they are …

It’s a different kind of prayer.

Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture to enlarge in a new tab


My Beautiful Babes …

… Are nearly all gone for this season. And for one reason or another I didn’t get out to them as much as I wanted, with the old body breaking down with this ‘n’ that but also mitigated by the help of a good ole doc.

In the field and forest of late I only found a few at sundown, my pretty gals, huddled against the coming night’s cold and condensation under a clear dark sky. It got very cold suddenly, noticeably, recently, from one night to the next. The same day the Mother Huntsman disappeared from her nest of spiderlings. And just as sudden, the wildlife all but disappeared from my usual haunts.

There might be a boy amongst them but bees just ‘feel’ female to me, the native Oz ones anyway. And that’s good enough for me, the ‘feel’ of it, in the absence of ‘fact’ which is often obtained by killing the little ones. Not a practise I agree with or see the need for, except we are always interfering, can’t keep our noses out of things. Busy, busy, busy, just like the bees except they aren’t trying to change the world or leave their mark. Not like us people anyway.

But everybody is doing their best according to their knowledge and capacity. The ‘spiritual’ life is not easy. The simplicity of it is just too much ‘absence – a void’ for most people who are used to excited, even feverish, activity – no less the religionists.

I don’t mean to separate the spiritual from the so-called mundane but there is a point at which living can be said to become spiritual though not as any religion would have us believe – as can be seen from daily recorded worldwide events, religion is no measure of spirituality.

Belief being the childish or immature abrogation of ones authority as opposed to the child-like, the innocence of a child’s unburdened intelligence necessary to be free of belief in order to question freely.

That point could be said to be realised when one has had enough of being busy, or sticking their nose in, when the greater need is seen to be for peace of mind than any exercise of it. And it’s a long time coming, as anyone who has had it come to them can tell.

I am not suggesting anyone give anything up. I am just saying it as it is for me, because by the means of publishing this it has a life of its own beyond anything I could design. So I just do my best to say what I have to say without fear or favour, or consideration of self, and let my work speak for itself – I’m sure it speaks to some one, somehow.

These Bees are my great little beauties, for now. It is correct to say I love them, as I do every creature I come in contact with, in a way – they have no artifice. But the Bees are a particular attraction for me. And when I’m with them I treat them with great care and respect for their body and being. That is what is meant by ‘dominion over’, love and not exploitation rights.

It could be said I am exploiting their being and that is true in a way, but my obvious practise and intent demonstrates otherwise, I work ‘with’ them.

Though if you see otherwise I’d like to hear it, really. So I might make myself clearer, or understand better.

Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture to enlarge in a new tab


This Little Girl …

… I found in the bucket of water I leave at the end of the garden to make it easier for watering a few starters – plants – there, the yellow bucket of the recent post of the same name.

She was exhausted from the effort to get out of the water and her temperature would have been below what is required for optimal operation of the system, but that’s a part of the effort she makes to survive, it also keeps her ‘warm’ in the cold water – while she dies from exhaustion.

I scooped her up, a finger beneath her and gently rose with her well balanced on it so as to put no strain on her meagre reserves, in trust she will recover with a little help. Insects die all the time from falling into water; it’s not unusual – a daily hazard where there is water and wind and predators – to evade, accidents happen too.

I brought her to a yellow Straw Flower in the sunshine where I could attend to her and feed her a little honey while she would clean, energise and dry out. Instead what happened was the honey blended or melted into the water drenching her little body and got in everywhere and made her sticky and unable to fly – I would suppose, putting myself in the bee’s shoes. Do bees have shoes? :)

She was disturbed, but not aggressively so. It was just that she now had more work to do because of my intrusion with the honey, however well intentioned. She may have taken a little of it but my placement of it was not regulated enough so there was just too much for best result, least effort to recovery.

So she went to work cleaning herself, and it seemed she would never succeed to get rid of the sticky water. So I interfered again, this time to spray her with more water from a bottle, to dilute the honey and make it easier for her to get rid of it. I did this three times and in the end, about an hour later, of me standing in the heat of the sunshine with her cupped in my hand for best solar heating as she gently gripped my skin in her jaws to enable the vigorous flapping of her wings and shaking of her bum to throw off any liquid, she seemed close to clean.

Then, when she was nearly ready to get back to her life as a free bee, free to do what she does, she climbed onto my finger, the highest part available to her – to launch from I suppose, since that’s what many creatures naturally do, but didn’t.

I was watching and waiting, I had observed and helped so far and was looking to see her take off but it wasn’t happening. She was just sitting on the top of my finger, only occasionally shifting herself this way or that, moving only slightly about. A few times it looked like she had just run out of energy, but I reckon the honey helped there at least.

I noticed a car coming into the driveway and looked up to see who it was, and it was just then she launched into the air and was gone.

Have to laugh! If it was personal I might have been disappointed she left unseen and without a wave. :)

But she left in her time and that’s always best, there’s no other way to go.

Nothing is done outside its time. It doesn’t matter what we may or may not want. Life is too big, and life is in charge.

A bow to thee, little bee.

Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture to enlarge in a new tab


PS These pix were taken as my OB flash was dying on my #1 camera so exposure was hit and miss, these were the best of the lot.