On my before-bed check of the flower patch last night I found this bee nestled and entirely still in the center of that newly bloomed lemon queen sunflower. As it was well after 10 p.m. and I’ve rarely — if ever — seen bees out after dark, I thought rather sentimentally¬† that it might have decided to camp out either for a little bit or perhaps the night. So doing my best not to disturb the scene, I pointed my flashlight and camera at it for the above snap (click for the bigger picture), and bid it goodnight.

After all, it looked entirely fine. But after sunrise this morning when I went out with the watering can and found the bee¬† still there and unmoved I realized the poor thing hadn’t stopped for a nap, it had stopped for good. Why? Who knows. Maybe it was old. Maybe it had been forced to use its stinger. Maybe it got bit by the crab spider next door but the effect of the tiny predator’s venom had been delayed.

Whatever the cause of its death, the bee looked as if it had been busy one moment and just gone the next.

While sprinkling water among the leaves and petals the bee was dislodged and it plummeted to the soil below where it will hopefully enrich the soil in its own little way for next year’s sunflowers.

When I told Susan, she summed up my sentiments perfectly: “What better place to go?”