Bombus Citrinus

Nature summer flower bee

A lemon cuckoo bumblebee
On my garden fence, at rest.
Her delicate wings, bold yellow vest
Her name, evocative of honey

Suggest a charming, benign creature
– blossoms – a peaceful glade – pollination
But any search for information
Presents a different, darker picture.

This parasite cuckoo will colonize
Will trail worker bees on their nectar harvest
Stalk their return to a lively nest
Then, using chemical mimicry to disguise

Her sinister presence, this sly invader
Slips past deceived host workers
To kill queen, larvae, eggs – frenzied murders –
Until she’s the queen; the hive enslaver.

Amidst flowers, this grim reality.
A life evolved to dispossess.
On my garden fence, at rest
A lemon cuckoo bumblebee.


By Geoff Budden

Geoff Budden lives in St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, where he practices law. He has had poems published in Canada, Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom. He acknowledges the universality of the wild but feels it most profoundly in the many hours he spends outdoors, in his own community. @GeoffBudden