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Thursday, April 29, 2010

How cautious should we Bee?

A couple days ago, Mira and I were out playing in the backyard when along came a bee. It was acting pretty relaxed, just buzzing slowly from one brightly-colored yard toy to the next. It stopped for a while on the dish of water that Mira was playing with in order to get a drink.

Mira has several books with bees in them, but they are cartoon renderings. She likes to point out the bees in the books, I think because she likes to hear us say "bumble beeeeee". So I thought the real bee might be a good learning opportunity, and I pointed it out to her, saying "Look, Mira. It's a real live bumble bee."

She was captivated. She watched it fly, trying to track its motions. And when it landed to get a drink it was only maybe a foot from where she was sitting. She reached out and pointed at it, getting within a few inches of touching it. I made sure I was close by so that if she did anything to irritate the bee, I could snatch her up and go inside. But aside from that, I didn't interfere with the interaction at all. She made her kissy face in the bee's direction and waved at it when it finally flew away.

Throughout the bee's visit, I told Mira all about what the bee was doing and why: that it was investigating the toys because the bright colors made it think it was a flower, that it was getting a drink from her dish because it was thirsty, that the buzzing sound was caused by its wings flapping so fast. But at no point in time did I explain to Mira that bees can sting. With most things that would be considered a danger, I will take a moment to explain to her what is dangerous and why. For example, the other day when we were hanging out in a friend's backyard while they were grilling, I explained, "Mira, do you see the grill over there? Jason is cooking on it, so it is very hot. It could burn you, so you need to not play too close to it and don't touch it." She played the rest of the evening without getting anywhere near the grill, and at one point she even stopped in her tracks, looked at the grill, shook her head "no", and then turned the other direction. Which is totally awesome. But back to the bee... I didn't tell her that the bee could sting her. I'm still not really sure if that was the best thing to do, though. My thinking at the time was that she was so interested and I want to foster a love of nature in her and I certainly didn't want to bias her into one of those silly children who runs and screams every time they see a bee.

But what do you think? Did I do the right thing in letting her enjoy her naivety in that moment? Should I have told her the complete truth in the interest of being factual and honest? I'm not sure. Comment with your opinion.


Marcy said...

You could maybe say something like that bees usually are friendly, but if we bother them (try to touch them, etc) they can get angry and sting you. So they're fine to watch, but to try not to get too close or bother them...?

Anjea said...

Marcy beat me to it. :D