The birds and the bees



Every year I hang a hummingbird feeder right outside the window directly above my kitchen sink. Each spring I anticipate the arrival of the first hummingbird; and throughout the summer and into fall, I watch these amazing birds from different vantage points in my kitchen. Over the years, they have uplifted me through times of struggle and led me to peace during times of anxiety.

A few weeks ago, as I approached the kitchen sink to see if I could spot one of my “inspirations,” to my dismay I saw at least half of the base of the feeder covered with something dark. In the past, the hummingbirds have had a few ants and wasps as visitors, but I had never before seen anything this massive at my feeder. A closer look revealed what I believed to be honeybees on top of honeybees. My first thought was to devise a plan to rid the feeder of the bees without harming the hummingbirds or the bees. I knew just the person to contact. My son-in-law, Jesse, owns a pest control business; and he is also a beekeeper.

I snapped a picture and sent it to Jesse just to confirm that they were indeed honeybees and to ask what in the world was going on; why are these bees overtaking my feeder and is there anything I can do to keep them away from the feeder? I felt sorry for the hummingbirds because they now had to share their source of sustenance with another living creature that was consuming the sugar water at an alarming rate. He proceeded to tell me that we are in a time of dearth; the time of year when there is a shortage of nectar-producing flowers. Not unlike the hummingbirds, the bees were using the sugar water as their source of sustenance as well. He said there was not much I could do except possibly move the feeder, but likely the honeybees would find it wherever I moved it.

I had a dilemma. I could move the feeder to another location, in which case I would miss seeing the hummingbirds and I would never know when the feeder needed to be filled; or I could leave it right there and tolerate the bees as best I could. A third option would be to just completely remove the feeder and not feed the hummingbirds or the bees. It was really a no-brainer. I knew the right thing to do. As a result of Jesse’s advice and encouragement, I began to do my little part to help save the honeybees while at the same time still being able to satisfy and enjoy the hummingbirds.

While skeptical at first as to whether all would be well for my precious hummingbirds, I am now amazed that both the birds and the bees seem to be doing okay together at the same feeder. I have observed the hummingbirds struggling a bit, but I have watched enough to see that they too are finding their way to the empty spots at the feeder. It might seem silly, but I feel a sense of satisfaction that I have played even just a small part in helping these creatures not only survive together but thrive together.

It always amazes me how much I learn about myself as I watch nature unfold before my eyes. As I observed the hummingbirds and honeybees one recent morning while I sat in the kitchen to eat breakfast, I read a reflection containing a scripture passage from Hebrews 10:25: “Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.” This passage from Hebrews reminded me that the work I was doing with the hummingbirds and honeybees is much like the work I am called to do with all those I meet. While caring for these birds and bees pales in comparison to my call to show love and do good out of concern for everyone, it certainly can help me to understand that even the smallest action can have positive results, even for someone I do not know personally. Many times we just do not believe that we can make a difference by offering what seems to be something small and insignificant.

As the hummingbirds and the honeybees come to and depart from the feeder outside my window and partake of the sugar water I provide, I pray that I can find the confidence to do the same for the people around me; that I will always sense those who are experiencing a time of “dearth” and need some “sugar water” for sustenance. I pray for all of you too, that with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, each one of you will join me in an effort to offer whatever “sugar water” we have to others, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem at the time. May God bless all of us as we “help one another to show love and to do good.”

Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Dubois County and also contributes to the “Sharing the Load” column in The Message.