It was a hot sunny afternoon and I sat by the pond sipping some cider when this rather rude fellow came and sat down right beside me.
He immediately began sticking out his tongue, and I said, “Hey, Buck. Do you have to do that right here and right now?”
“I sure do,” he said, sticking out his tongue so far out of his head I thought it might drop out.
“But it is rather rude, don’t you think?” I replied, feeling somewhat repulsed and putting my can of cider down on the deck.
“No, not at all,” the bumblebee said, curling and wriggling his sticky tongue.
Then something quite extraordinary happened. I thought I was on the set of another remake of The Thing when one tongue became three!
What the heck … I thought, and said. “Do you really, really have to do that, as well?”
The sun beat down, flies buzzed and a vibrant blue damselfly floated over the sparkling water of the pond to settle on the sword-like leaf of an Iris.
“I sure do,” he repeated, but it was hard to make out what he was saying with all that odd tongue business going on.
“But is it really necessary? I am trying to have a nice sit down and enjoy a nice drink of scrumpy. It is rather off-putting, you know.”
“I sure do. I have to keep it in tip-top condition. I apologise, but grooming is very important to us bumblebees.”
I mellowed a little, and picked up my can of cider and said, “I guess that’s fine then. Quite a neat trick the three in one thing.”
I dare not repeat what he said, but with that it buzzed off and left me there sitting on the deck pondering over what just happened.
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Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum), rear garden, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.