Bats and bees: lessons in survival

We could learn a lot by watching the bats and bees.

My roof has become a bat cave.

Tiny baby bats are being raised up there, getting ready to fly. We’ve seen them at night when they forage for food or do whatever bats do.

It was a bit disconcerting at first, sharing my house with the bats, especially when a cat brought a dead one home. But we’re not alone: the BC Community Bat Project says it has received numerous calls this spring reporting bats in unusual locations. Apparently this is the time when female bats gather in maternity colonies, where they will remain until the pups are ready to fly.

It’s actually kind of cool. And the bats are great housemates: they’re clean, quiet, don’t make a lot of noise and eat nasty insects like mosquitoes. Plus they’re an endangered species, so I feel like I’m doing my part, in some small way, to help them survive, at least until they’re ready to fly away.

Even if we wanted to get rid of them, we can’t since the BC Wildlife Act says it’s illegal to exterminate or harm bats. They are untouchable until fall or winter, when we can “exclude” them, but only after it is determined they are no longer in the roof.

READ MORE: Back to the fold, in work and play

Our plan is to build them their own little bat house so they have somewhere to return to when we seal up our house. This, to me, is true country living. Who needs a laneway house in the city when you can have bat houses and beehives in your backyard?

It’s fascinating to be living in the shadow of these strong and resilient creatures, whose very existence is at risk every day.

The bees, for instance, swarmed a few week ago, fleeing to a neighbour’s chimney and then parts unknown before we could get them back. A local beekeeper warned they may not survive the winter because it’s so late in the year for them to store up enough honey.

Back at the hive, the other bees face mites, pests and other diseases that could wipe them out. The other day, they chased off a wasp trying to rob their hive of honey before I gave them a helping by squashing it.

Still they go about their business, the bats raising their young before going off into hibernation; the bees storing honey for the winter, taking out their dead and leading their queen on mating rituals. And on the side, they’re both pollinating my garden (I’m pretty sure my thumbs aren’t that green) and doing whatever they need to survive. We could learn a lot by watching the bats and bees.

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