Today will probably be one of the last really nice days before cold sets in. Thursday it’ll start to rain and be in the low 60s, and I think everything will go downhill from there. If it isn’t at least 70, I’m too cold, and it generally doesn’t get nice again til sometime in the middle of June. The weather’s about the only thing I don’t like about this place.
So I spent my lunch time out on the green on the graduate campus, watching the bees flying in and out of their hive and collecting nectar from the field of clover under the apple trees. I had some left over barbecue from supper last night, and I dropped a couple of pieces of shrimp shell in the grass. A little while later, as the bees zrrrrrved from flower to flower, a wasp cut through their flight patterns to land on the shrimp. I could hear its mouthpieces cutting away at the shell to take a piece off to who knows where. Another wasp came by, and a brief battle ensued. Eventually one wasp would hover until the other left, then would land to feed, and so on.
It would be so easy to draw a dichotomy between the aggressive conflicts of solitary carnivorous wasps fighting over meat, and the communal sharing of vegan bees who live on the nectar of live flowers. This would, of course, be accentuated by human biases–bees are beneficial because they give us honey; wasps are bad because they don’t give us anything but stings.
Yet I see it as overly simplistic. Should the value of a species be gauged by our subjective judgements of them? Or is not every species special and beautiful for simply being what it is? How much of our conditioning and socialization colors our perceptions?
We can acknowledge our biases and our judgements, but also temper them with other approaches. Is there anything inherently wrong with many wasps being solitary by nature? Or with not creating honey? IMO, these are merely value judgements that privilege humanity and its needs and wants over those of the bees and wasps.
Or, to make a bad pun remiscent of elementary school, let the critters bee themselves.