“Yes, yes, YES!” I say as I fling myself onto the ground at the foot of an oak. This is passion, but possibly not of the kind you’re imagining.
Lying on my stomach, I raise up onto my elbows so I can point my camera. A tiny and lushly-hairy bee is skirting a recently mined spoil heap in front of me. Her tail is an extraordinarily vivid orange and in sharp contrast to the darker stripes of her abdomen. Like my photo, her name – tawny mining bee – doesn’t really do her justice.
These solitary bees overwinter in burrows and then emerge on warm spring days like today. They appear to be doing well in the sandy patches of Dulwich Wood – it’s not very scientific but I’ve noticed more and more tiny holes in evidence over the last few years. After the glamorous tawny, I see a second and more sombre-coloured mining bee a few yards away. This one’s a Clarke’s mining bee and I read that she feeds almost exclusively on willow blossom unlike the less choosy tawny.
I was never great at French but the word “ennui” has stuck in my mind since I was at school and entirely captures the feeling I had first thing this morning. There’s not a direct translation into English but it means something along the lines of a feeling of listlessness or dissatisfaction at a lack of interest or excitement. I see that it also has connotations of self-indulgent posturing. Ouch.
The inexorable steps of spring are a salve for my self-indulgent ennui. Every year I circle the trees looking for new spoil heaps but have rarely see the bees which dug them. And two on the same day? Utter satisfaction.