Hoverfly On Yarrow

man colours of yarrow

overfly on pink yarrow

Cambridge Council has left areas in the parks to grow wild, aided by sowing wildflower seeds. But in years and years of seeing yarrow, I have never seen the deep colours of these.

Because there are so many species and cultivars, yarrow comes in many different colours. So, while yarrow does exist in these colours in the wild, my guess is that the Council has bought in a selection of seeds that are not exactly ‘UK’ wild.

That said, they do the job and the area is teaming with bees and hoverflies. It is testament to the regenerative power of leaving things alone.

pink yarrow

The Bee

There was a bee on a purple flower spike, an arrangement of many small flowers on a tall stem. I forget which species of flower it was, but the bee moved quickly up the stem from one little flower to another. One quick sip, and on to the next flower. It did not dither; it took a sip and then a tiny distance upwards to the next flower. It was like the bee was going up in a lift (elevator), higher and higher on the flower spike.

It made me think how we humans see the bees sipping nectar and think how lovely it is to watch nature moving in its own time.

This is attributed to Lao Tzu:

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

Today though I was thinking about the mind of the bee, and the task it had before it. Sipping at each flower, on and on all day. It is like piecework, where the worker is paid for how many of a thing he or she can turn out in a day. For the bee it means it gets a living only so long as it keeps sipping. Is it fun, or is it a hard day’s work?

Come to think of it, do bees have downtime when the jobs are done, and it there is time to laze around and contemplate the whole cycle of nature?

Some animals plainly have downtime. Lions after they have eaten, for instance.

Or an orangutan at rest, sitting on a branch of a tree, lazing back against the trunk, idly prodding something that interests it.

Tamara is amazed that cows keep going, munching grass. She wonders what they think. She wonders whether they look at the next clump, and say to themselves ‘Oooh, grass!” Looked at that way, life is a never-ending delight. Perhaps it is that way for the bee.

Tamara and I once saw a moorhen couple getting ready to raise young. The male looked frantic, dashing about finding sticks, bringing them back and then off again. Its little legs were moving as fast as moorhen legs could go to bring back another twig.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

Ah, Lao Tzu is talking about the closed system of nature. Every variety of experience is in there. It is constantly moving and changing. Its rhythm is perfect, beating to the tune of the universe.

Man is an odd fish.

Slowly we are getting used to the idea that we do not stand outside of nature, but we are still a million miles away from knowing how to get out of our present predicament.

dark red yarrow flowers


  1. Joan E. Miller says:

    What a lovely, poetic post. I was just researching bees myself after seeing an unknown species on my rose bushes. The “bee” was clearly hunting, searching over top and bottom of leaves, not the flowers, but the leaves. It was on a hunt, for other insects I assume. My bushes have no visible insects to me, and I didn’t see the mystery bee find anything. The closest photo that I could find was a great golden digger wasp, but those are not found anywhere near Seattle! But, in my search, I found photos of hover flies. I have never seen one, that I know of, but now, after seeing your photo on yarrow, I wonder. I have yarrow and know how tiny those flowers are, so it’s likely that the hoverflies are so tiny I never noticed them! Now I’ll have to have a closer look. I love the quote you used also.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Joan. Our hoverflies are about half an inch long, if that helps. And unlike bees that cruise around kind of predictably, when hoverflies move it is often sudden and very quick. And they can move sideways the same way. And hover, of course.

      I wonder what your bee was after?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful piece!

    Tell Tamara cows definitely think. Sometimes what they think is “Oh hell no!” – for instance when you’re trying to persuade them to go into a chute so that you can do intrusive and undignified things to their lady parts in order to make more cows. But usually it’s just a calm “Hmmm … Grass,” as she thought – only sometimes it’s “Oh wow! Grass!” when you send them into a new pasture and they do their happy dance of grace.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I shall tell her 🙂


  3. As to ‘what do bees get out of dancing from one flower to the next?’ The gift of sustenance – nectar and pollen – in exchange for pollination of the donor plant. Symbiosis at its best, like all Natural Systems; ) as with the cows who leave their gifts of post-digestion – manure – to feed the plants upon which they feed. This is the Cycle of Life David, pure and simple – all and always interconnected, one to another They think about food, water, security and regeneration – all in the pursuit of Successful Survival.
    (Methinks you’re anthropomorphising, yet again? lol)


    1. Underneath it all, I am circling around the thought that we are plainly different from the rest of creation, and that we need to learn the long road back to cooperate with and be in tune with nature. That we are truly different is evident from the very fact that we think we are different, that we have the capability, the inclination, to think we are different. So it is not enough to ‘get with the program’ blindly – we have to know what it means to reach above self interest.

      Now that we have got ourselves in a mess, it is doubly hard because many lose faith that there is a way out and back, don’t you agree? But if we hook up, I can see how things will change rapidly for the better.


      1. Think of others (all life forms) before ourselves (is this helpful or harmful?) and drop the ‘Masters of Creation’ /we can do whatever we want attitude.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Urban Man is physically distant and thus has become disconnected from Nature, nay from the entire planet. In order to recognise the harm, this must be corrected – assumption tossed aside – to learn how all things truly ‘work’ together and to recognise the collected knowledge of Indigenous Peoples is essential.


  5. Tamara says:

    Remarking here weeks after you posted this. Sorry I am not seeing it until now. Lovely photos of our walks, and what an admirably poetic post, David! The magnificence of Nature… I am sad to see the end of summer, but autumn is glorious in its own right. Super that the weather people are predicting a fabulous fall… 🍁


  6. Tamara says:

    Thanks for this elucidation on cow matters, Belladonna! Have you lived on a farm, or have you currently got cows? I read The Secret Life of Cows. it was delightful to learn more about them. FYI here‘a the link in case you want to check it out:

    The Secret Life of Cows


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