A visit from a mining bee

One day last week, I was in the field, frustrated by failed interactions with other humans; the collaborators at one of my field sites turned off the water tap without warning me or explaining why, and it was a holiday so there was no one I could call to get help. At the next site, the water in the tank I’d set up left a suspicious sticky residue behind, making me wonder what else was in the tank. At a third site, I had to basically crawl through a small patch of woods full of nettles to get to the water tap. I had been working hard all weekend, cycling to all my field sites, hauling water to my research plots, weeding on my hands and knees, and I felt tired and defeated.


Belonging has always been somewhat of an issue with me and though I always hope to belong when I move somewhere, it’s yet to happen. I certainly have not managed to “fit in” in Dublin at all. I have a friend who calls me “socially dyslexic” and some days I wonder if I’ll ever be able to communicate with other people.


At my next site, I plopped down next to one of my research plots with a sigh. My knees were muddy and my hair was full of twigs (from crawling through the trees). The day was quite a bit cooler than expected and after a moment, a small mining bee landed on my finger, enjoying my body heat.


Maybe I can’t belong with humans, I thought, but this little mining bee likes me just fine.


9 thoughts on “A visit from a mining bee

  1. I’m thinking about coming to Dublin for a weekend sometime as it’s one of the destinations from my nearest airport. If I ever go could I maybe drop by and see you? We could talk bees 😊 I have similar difficulties in ‘fitting in’ with people.

  2. I think that Ireland is a challenge for many Americans, generally. Maybe you are looking for belonging in the wrong place? Nature loves you. Your blogging community adores you. There are dogs and special people who care for you. No one belongs everywhere.

    • Haha this is true, Europe in general and Ireland specifically has a very negative view of Americans. It’s socially acceptable to stereotype the whole country in pretty horrible ways. And it’s been made perfectly clear to me many times that I’m not wanted here. In any case, I’ve got a job back in the States next March, so I won’t be a nuisance here that much longer!

  3. “Belonging” is a curious word. We could say we belong to the earth. Or to a species. We belong to a country, a state, a province, a town, a tribe, a family. But when we dig beneath the superficial definition, what does it actually mean? Does it imply acceptance of — and by — the community we’re referencing? I think we place too much emphasis on fitting in, on being “normal” (whatever the heck that means).Yes, it can feel lonely on the “outside”. But from your posts and photos, I think you do belong — to a diverse world of natural wonder. Perhaps, for now, that is enough. In time you’ll find like-minded travellers for the journey.

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