Dogs and cats are the most popular animals to keep as pets, and with good reason. They’re cuddly, cute, and well-suited for domesticated life.
Other non-conventional house pets have proven to be worthy companions as well, namely horses, pigs, and cows. But what about insects?
Fiona Presly is believed to be the first woman to keep a bumblebee as a house-trained pet.
Presly of Inverness, Scotland, and her black and yellow striped companion, appropriately named “Bee,” share an unusual bond. Had the library assistant not rescued the queen bee, it would have struggled to survive on its own.
“I found her when we were getting work done in the garden, and it was lucky I didn’t stand on her,” Presly told the Scotsman. “She must have just come out of hibernation.”
“I put my hand down in front of her and she crawled on to it right away. I looked at her and thought, ‘Something’s not right here, she’s got no wings.’”
Presly says that the bee has been house-trained, and will even cuddle with her.
“She made sort of clicks, buzzy sounds when she was in close contact with me and was happy to sit and groom, eat, drink and sleep on my hand,” Presly said.
There are no recorded instances of human–bee companionship. But just because it’s unconventional doesn’t stop Presly from whole-heartedly believing it’s real.
“We were both very comfortable with each other, and many people admired this bond. She was totally relaxed with me,” she said.
“People have a bond with their dog or cat and even their hamster. I think I have proved here that you can have a relationship with an insect.”
The unconventional friendship caught the attention of bee psychologist Lars Chittka.
Chittka, a professor in sensory and behavioral ecology at Queen Mary University of London, said the problem-solving skills of insects are well documented, but little is known of their emotional makeup.
“No scientist to my knowledge has tested whether bees, even with each other, form some sort of emotional relations,” Chittka told the Scotsman.
Queen bees are typically surrounded by a colony of other bees, and now scientists wonder if they derive satisfaction from the company of others.
Unable to found a colony because she had no wings, it’s possible the bee bonded with Presly instead.
“I think it’s quite remarkable that a layman would make such detailed observations that actually get scientists to scratch their heads and ask what’s going on there,” Chittka said.
But Presly doesn’t need scientific inquiry to validate the bond she knows she shares with Bee. She keeps a journal of her daily interactions with her unorthodox friend, and the relationship has changed her view of insects in general.
“I don’t just view bees differently, I now see all insects in a new light,” she said. “They’re here for a reason.”
Meet the woman who kept a bee as a pet 🐝via BBC Radio Scotland
Posted by BBC Scotland on Tuesday, March 20, 2018