Becky Belisle: Bee hunter!

This post could also be titled, “How Becky got really really lost and learned to ask others for help,” but here it goes.

In case you didn’t know I’m spending this year researching a plastic made by bees. Fascinating. This means I need to find said plastic made by bees, a mission I embarked on this past Thursday. The tale of this epic mission goes as follows:

Over a year ago I contacted this lovely man who happens to be the president of The Essex Field Club and asked him, provided I got a Fulbright grant, if he could take me to the nesting grounds of Colletes halophilus. In what was certainly a surprising turn of events for  him, I got a grant and he wound up agreeing to drive me to salt marshes on the eastern coast of England to track done these little dudes. The only condition was that I needed to meet him at a train station out east so we could meet up for our adventure.

The plan was simple – bus to London, train to gray’s station, meet Peter. Sure the bus was at 5:30AM but provided I left my house by 5AM I should have no problem making it to the station in time, right? Tell that to one panicked Becky, running around the streets of Bath at 5:15AM, totally lost and with no idea of where to go. In my 4 in the morning brilliance I decided to take what looked like a short-cut on my map of Bath, leave my map at home and proceed to wander the streets of Bath aimlessly. As the time until my bus got shorter and shorter I started to panic more and more and was presented with two options: either I could run around and pray that I happened to collide with the bus station or I could flag down one of the three cars on the road that early in the morning like a lunatic and beg them to direct me to my waiting bus. Which one did I choose??? Let’s just say I caught my bus with 5 minutes to spare and with a new friend in Bath.

After the bus debacle I managed to keep my streak going, continuously getting lost and having to ask poor bystanders to direct me to my next waypoint.  Anyways, with lots of help and a bit of luck I was put face to face with my new friend and fellow bee lover Peter. Together we adventured over to an old fortress where we met up with another one of his entomologist friends (you would be surprised by how many insect jokes these guys can come up with) but more importantly we met these guys (well ladies I should say):

My bees are cuter than your bees.

Colletes nests!

Thanks to Peter I found the nesting grounds as well as some nest cell samples and will be able to start my research project. I am much indebted.

After a successful field trip, Peter kindly returned me to a train which took me back to London. I spent the afternoon gawking at the British Museum and listening to people playing pan flute. Eventually I met up with another Fulbrighter named Bobby Shady (turns out he is good friends with some Olin alumni. what a small world!) and spent my remaining hours in London strolling from pub to pub trying to find which one had the best offer.

A train from London took me back to Bath where I was confronted with cold and the need to take a taxi. Since I was on a roll with this whole asking people to help me out thing, I  jumped up when I heard a woman mention Oldfield Park (near where I live) to a cab driver. I quickly asked her if I could split the cab with her and before I knew it I was back at home and not a pence cheaper (she refused to let me pay anything for the cab).

Overall it was a big success. I feel I now have a lot of paying it forward to do.


About rbelisle

A bee researcher moving from Boston to Bath. Trying to make a difference in a world full of b's.
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One Response to Becky Belisle: Bee hunter!

  1. Annie says:

    wow, what an adventure! it seems the general public is super friendly and helpful. i would have been so nervous about missing the bus! this is probably lame, but are you going to update about your findings while you do your research? most of it i probably wouldn’t understand, but it would be fun to hear about things you discover! i can’t believe all this bee business. it’s so weird there is a whole bee community out there! you’re opening up my eyes to stuff i didn’t know much about!

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