Monday, April 15, 2013

Parallel Play at Home

Want to know how our Blue Orchard Bees are doing? OK! So, now there are NINE of them who are busily at work. And look at all the plugged-up holes! You can see the different muds they used based on the differences in color and texture. We've seen the bees going in head first to work on cells, then crawl out and back in butt-first, we're guessing to lay their eggs. We've seen a newcomer bee or maybe one who couldn't remember which piece of bamboo was hers hovering outside for a good four or five minutes, making a couple of accidental entries into holes that were already occupied before finding one just right for her. And the most fascinating and maybe a little tragic part today has been the arrival of a sizeable jumping spider; you can see it as a vaguely spider-shaped shadow in the recessed area at the top. The spider watches the holes and waits for the bee to come out. Mostly the bees come out too fast, but a couple of times it looks like the spider has gotten a hit and they've tussled a bit. So far, all the bees have gotten away and the spider moves silently back up to its hiding place until the next opportunity. I know all critters have to eat, but these girls only live 4-6 weeks, and they work so darn hard in an environment that's increasingly difficult for them. It's fascinating, and I do like spiders a great deal, but I must say that I'm really pulling for the bees this time.

The boys watched the spider for a bit, but then lost interest. Today has been busy with quiet, self-directed activity, which some days (especially when I have lots of work emails to return or dinner to prepare), is most welcome. But today, I found myself a little disappointed not to have little buddies to share time with. I was testing out a curriculum about herbs for this year's Camp UU, and I thought the boys might think some pieces of it were fun. But not so much. I respect that. So, we did a little parallel play, them doing their thing, me doing mine. Our house is nicely set up for this, being mostly one big room; I can still answer questions or come over to help, then give the space for the independence thing to continue.