Busy Bee needed Honey, read all about it!

Yesterday I was about to put something in a sink when I noticed a large Red Bottomed Bumble Bee at the bottom staggering about. It was clearly in distress and not able to climb up the stainless steel sides.

I offered it the hilt of a knife and the creature managed not to slip off as I placed the  Queen  Bee outside the kitchen window.

A few minutes later as I walked past I noticed the BumbleBee was STILL on the windowsill but right in front of my eyes she rolled onto her back and sagged back

Galvanised by her giving up I selected some Honey ( Lincolnshire Honey as that is where we were) from the cupboard and put some on a teaspoon near her.  She noticed it and found the strength to turn, roll back and flop on her side. Her protruding mouth reached out. After about 10 seconds it was as if she decided to really go for it.

Her stance changed she lent back and appeared to sit on her lovely fluffy round red bottom and planted her two back legs so like a tripod she was held up.

Her antenna pointed down at the Honey.  Her front legs were in the Honey and she stepped into the Honey so that her middle legs also became sticky.  Now she was upright, I eased the honey out of the spoon onto the sill, a sweet juicy feast for her to enjoy.

For the next 10 minutes she took what she needed. She had to spend time, cleaning her sticky legs and at one point this involved her holding down one leg with another leg whilst her tongue came out of her mouth ( I know not the proper names) and scooped up the Honey.  At the same time she waved about her left middle leg in the air to help dry it off

It was the most wonderful and fascinating experience to see a noble creature such as this move from famine to feast. She seized the opportunity to live.

Then refreshed and fortified…..

She took off in her BumbleBee way and flew up and up and up sure and strong over the roof away back to her life and her colony.


My phone camera photo does not do  justice to her magnificence but here you are anyway


Queen Reb Bottomed Bumble Bee

She drinks honey and revives


Do you need some refreshment, some time to refuel. Click here to find out more




Feedback or criticism?

OK I admit both of those words are loaded and there is no one agreed separate definition. And yes you could argue that criticism is just a form of feedback.. Equally you could argue that most people see “positive feedback ” as criticism in disguise.

And then of course we’ve all been told that we shouldn’t be defensive . Often  this is when we feel we are under attack, so we get told to act inhumanly whilst being treated in an inhumane way ( or perhaps the lazy common human way)


The thing is, I think there is a difference and it is an important one. It is intent with effort.

So here are my personal  thoughts on the two words:

Feedback can come in many guises many of which are noticeably supportive, from a smile, a conversation, an email, a testimonial,  comment on a essay or in a meeting. It can be short or long. It can even be silence. Sometimes silence is telling. It doesn’t have to be positive, for its EFFECTS to be positive.

Criticism nearly always hurts (I’ll come back to that)

Spoken or written feedback takes consideration from the person giving it. It takes thought to decide what precisely to give feedback on, to decide why that particular thing you’ve chosen to feedback on is important and then how to do it. Even if the last bit of that process – the how to do it-  feels clumsy and painful to the recipient, the effort taken for the first  two bits acts as a useful  salve.  As the recipient you are aware somehow of the intent and the effort being made for you. Respect is being shown.

Criticism is often quite swift.

If you ask for feedback,  or if you have been asked to give feedback then there is a contract between you that gives permission to be clear and not evasive in the details. Often great mentors, chosen by YOU ( not self appointed!!!) give you this as part of living, breathing and conversing. As you do back.

If you are giving it unasked, on what basis are you giving it.?  Beware,  because it could be a criticism you are about to spout.

Also have you  REALLY given the thought to what and why you have the feedback to give.

You know when you’ve been on the receiving end of good feedback even if the content of it was full of negatives. You know because you can do something with it. It somehow opens up possibilities, even when it means “stop this because there is something else you can do.”

It’s not that I think all criticism is a bad thing. There are times when even though it is harsh, it might just be what is required to break the person out of  a pattern, or to indicate what you actually feel.  This is being authentic and there is no relationship if it is not real.  It is OK to agree to differ.  That way lies growth and exploration.

What isn’t authentic is when you hide your thoughts behind careful crafted messages that make it hard for the other person to OPENLY  appreciate what you mean. They can feel the pain, the sting, but there is nothing else solid to work with, just a sense of hurt, of insult.

In the end the power lies with the recipient, to do what they will with the feedback and/or the criticism.

We decide, we always decide ourselves in the end.

It is a funny, nearly dark, magical thing.

You know when you have been gifted something  that at first glance, on the first sting perhaps was hard to take, and aroused all maner of emotions and thoughts in your head. You know because somehow you stick with it and something else emerges.

It is reciprocal too. The more you demonstrate your willingness to give feedback, the more you encourage others to help you too.

Feedback is the lifeblood of change.



I would love to hear/read what you think about this. How you personally define the difference between them. Comments are enabled 🙂

In the end it was a phoney war

So the new arrival has been here just under a month now. The drawn lines have mostly been forgotten.  There is a new stasis.

He didn’t herald change for them, though as an interloper there was initial fear that he might. Hence the need to demonstrate clearly and vocally their feelings.

There is a new alliance however, one built on gender lines, the hound and blue boy are regularly found together. However the hound is special amongst the animals. He gets on with everyone. He has more weight and physical power than all of them, but rarely chooses to use it. A very important character in any system.  In fact so important is this open minded equable quality, that without it, no system every achieves the stability to sustain change and growth.

Their change in the end was less than they feared, once they watched and relaxed.  In this instance, not radical at all.  A jolt to the system which everyone has accommodated. Tension that exists now is just the few seconds before food arrives in bowls  –  and it was always so.

The interloper has found his places.  He has been polite and he has watched what happens and slotted in to the rhythms which in turn have altered subtly for him.  His tactic has been to quietly be himself.  He has shown no desire for power plays, their eyes (and nose) will have taken in his story.  He trusted: his only motivation was to survive.

The big change here of course, is for him. He is no longer starving, he can breathe easily, he is warm most of the time. He still has raggedy fur and that’s going to take a lot longer but his basic needs are being met. He has certainty, what the others had in the first place.  He has a human captive.

He is thriving.

For a  more narrative account of this story I have written about it here  ocelotchatelaine

Ingenuity, invention and change.

Last night I caught up with something on BBC4 about the Scrap Heap Orchestra. If you are in the UK and you have access to the BBC iplayer take a look its glorious.. And if you are not in the UK hunt Youtube and torment the BBC to make it available.

And now I am going to tell you all about it, because after about 10 mins in ( I caught it unplanned by accident, takes me a while to catch on sometimes!) I sat there watching enthralled and smiling with enthusiasm for everyone participating. It spoke to my soul in so many ways. I won’t ruin it though because ..

It was glorious

The premise was this. The BBC Concert Orchestra players were to play Tchaikovski’s 1812 Overture at a Prom Concert in the Royal Albert Hall.

So here is the system change

The instruments they played them on were all made out of scrap in the preceding  11 few weeks.  For this task the conductor had asked some the the UK’s TOP classical instrument makers to make them.

Just Some of things I loved about it:

Violinists, being reminded of being 5 again as the first iteration of violin made out of plastic sewage pipe  … not so good

Flautist: amazed that all the notes were there.

Bassoonist who got excited at the presence of a particular note

Trombones that looked like something out of TopCat

An old landlady’s bedstead used in the percussion– Brilliantly

The conductor and the violin maker circling eachother over essential improvements to the violins and the Violin maker playing “Properly” by sticking to the brief of using scrap and not merely mimicking what happens already. Both seriously risk taking here  to achieve their objective and in the end having to put their trust in one another

The Drum maker and the Drummer ( oops Timps naughty me!) having a range of words that described the actual noise, the intended noise and the deficiencies in the noise from a big drum.

The SOUND POST turned out to be essential. ( see former blog post labelled Dowel!)

How the Players characterised themselves as Artists and the Makers as Artisans and the Artists recognised and respected their dependency on the Artisans. There was no silly snobbery here.

The conductor and the arranger working with Tchaikowsky’s orchestration and making it work

All of them risked ridicule. All of them put themselves out there for each other.  All of them had to use what they knew, ditch a lot of things that had been second nature, revisit some assumptions and be creative in a desperate and magical way.

At the end I got the impression that the self styled Artisans, the amazing people who created the instruments had learned the most about their art.  But if they did it was a close run thing as people took home bath tubs and plastic pipes to make a sound that had originally been dictated over a 150 years ago.

And the Audience.. The saw, they heard, the understood and they

Stood up to cheer.

Artistry comes in so many guises.

Recognition, respect, intent, trust and play all essential to make this change work