Ah, springtime! Bumble the Bee will tell you that the only good part about the winter is the fact that it will end in spring. Cold weather can really damage a bees wing, so every year Bumble has to wait until he is sure that spring is here to stay before he can go outdoors.
This year, when Bumble went out for his first romp in the spring sunshine, he was hungrier than usual. Fortunately, all the fields and peoples yards around Bumbles home were full of newborn flowers. Bumble wasted no time getting his fill of the sweet flower nectar, happy to take in the sights, sounds, and feel of spring.
Bumble busily buzzed from flowerbed to flowerbed, and only the sound of two familiar voices interrupted his feast.
Hey Bumble! Over here, the voices called excitedly. Bumble looked over and saw his best friends, Charlie the Goose and Annabelle the Collie.
Happy Spring! Bumble cheered, Why arent you two out playing and enjoying the weather?
Some of us have not been sleeping all winter like you lazy bees, Charlie teased.
Lazy? Bumble laughed, Why, Ive only been out of hibernation for two hours and Ive already gathered a weeks worth of nectar. Looks to me like you two are just playing in the dirt.
Charlies on a mission, Annabelle barked. He wants to grow the biggest squash in the world and win a blue ribbon at the county fair next fall.
You know how to grow a squash? Bumble asked Charlie.
Its not too hard if youre willing to do the work, Charlie said proudly. Would you like to help us, Bumble?
Bumble looked around at all the work Charlie and Annabelle had done. In an area the size of a sandbox Charlie had cleared away all the weeds and grass, tilled the soil and dug rows with his beak. Annabelle had her own garden, too, but she was digging holes instead of rows. She also had a wooden pole sticking straight up out of the ground.
What are you growing, Annabelle? Bumble asked.
Well, the pole is for beans, and those are jalapeño pepper plants. And these are going to be Biscuit Bushes, Annabelle explained, dropping a dog biscuit into one of the holes. Im going to make some of my famous Hot Dog-Biscuit Chili!
Bumble started to laugh, but then realized that Annabelle was not joking. She really wanted to grow a dog biscuit bush! Bumble looked at Charlie, but Charlie just rolled his eyes and shrugged.
Anyway, Bumble, said Charlie, Why dont you go down the row with the seeds and drop one every three or four inches. Ill follow along with the hoe and cover them with soil.
And then you just wait for the perfect squash to sprout up? Thats not too hard.
Well, Charlie chuckled, Theres a little more to it than that. Well have to mix in a little fertilizer, add just enough water, keep the weeds away, and make sure that some of your insect cousins dont try to eat the plants before they finish growing.
Thats a lot of work, Bumble shook his head. Why bother? Id rather go out and play in the wildflowers that have already grown.
Annabelle buried another biscuit and said to Bumble: You just wait until my Biscuit Bush is ten feet tall. Then youll see that all the hard work pays off.
This gave Bumble an idea. It would be nice to have my own flowers, he thought to himself: I could grow a big bed of Bee-balm the prettiest, sweetest of all flowers and then have a private bee-party!
Bumble decided to give it a try. Hey Annabelle, do you mind if I borrow a few of your holes, since you have already planted so many Biscuit Bushes.
Sure, Annabelle replied. Ill get more biscuits than I can use off of just one mighty Biscuit Bush anyway.
But what are you going to plant? Charlie asked. You dont have any seeds.
Thats where you come in, my friend, Bumble said, buzzing over to pat Charlie on the back. Every bee knows where to find Bee-balm. I just need a big, strong goose to pick a few plants for me to transplant* back here to the garden.
With the help of his friends, and with a little watering and weed-pulling, Bumble would soon have a beautiful bright red patch of Bee-balm flowers to share with everyone else.
Mike L. Ford is the author of historical novels for kids of all ages. A North Garden native, he now lives in beautiful Greene County with his wife Holly, heir new baby, and their two dogs. * When you transplant something, you take it from the place where it lives or grows and you put it somewhere else, where it will continue to grow again.