She was a bee. (How do I know the bee was female? Because she was a worker honey bee and all worker honey bees are female – or so they say.) Anyway…
I was strolling at a leisurely pace down Green Lane on the far side of the Shire when I passed the house where the owners leave a bowl of water out for the benefit of passing dogs. Now, it is a little known fact that while bowls of water might benefit passing dogs, they can be hazardous to passing bees. I looked down into this particular bowl and saw a little bee floundering on her back on the surface of the water. Her legs were going in all directions and I decided that she was neither dancing nor training for the village bee swimming gala. She was genuinely in distress.
OK, little lady, it’s your lucky day. I put my forefinger into the water and flipped her onto her front (well, her underneath I suppose, she being a bee an’ all.) I did this not because front crawl, breast stroke and butterfly are easier to perform than backstroke, but so that I could then present the same finger for her to crawl onto, which she did. She was then placed carefully onto a nearby leaf where I watched her preening and drying herself in the sunshine for quite some time.
She never said ‘thank you.’ She didn’t, but I decided to trust the old maxim that virtue is its own reward and chose not to be offended. (I did, however, question whether rescuing a bee could truly be called virtuous. I decided that it could, since the sun was shining and that’s always a good sign.)
I had a terrible thought. Suppose she’d stung me? If she’d done that she would have died a death rather more dreadful than expiry by drowning, and how would I have felt then? What price misplaced virtue? I should have used a leaf to lift her out, shouldn’t I? I expect bees are more trusting of leaves than they are of humans, and would be less likely to sting them.
Whew! Lesson learned for next time.