October 20, 2021

The Bears and the Bees

Right in the middle of our nation's capitol, the Smithsonian Zoo gives quite a bit of attention to the honey bee! First, there's the Bending Hives sculpture that invites you to "Look closer – from different angles – at the world we share with bees." Maybe we needed this impetus in 2018, when these hives were created. Who could've predicted that just two years later, we'd all be looking at the entire world from a different angle, through a different lens?

No bees here. For those, you only need to visit a garbage can.
The bee swarm mural is a must-see, even if you don't go into the Great Ape House. Every kid entering the ape house asked their parent(s), "Why are there bees on an ape house?" Every parent said, "I don't know," and through the dark doors they went. I read the answer and it's so much of stretch for me, I could not summarize it here for you. Follow this link and leave a comment if you can boil it down to a couple of sentences. https://www.thegoodofthehive.com/zoo
Good of the Hive mural of 351 worker bees and more. What else do you see?

An eye-level worker bee enables you to appreciate the hand-painting up close.
The queen's entourage.

Then there's the playground surrounded by a pollinator garden. It's close to Lot D, just past the Bending Hives.

Me and the Bee playground

Possibly a Blue Orchard Bee
And, yes, there are real bees, too. Unfortunately, every single garbage can has rummaging honeybees, and they have learned to excitedly inspect you if you're nearby. Same goes for the benches and tables scattered throughout the park. Remember to bring your epis… and never swat.

If you bring a picnic lunch, expect company.
That's quite a bit of bonus fun, considering the real reason to go to the national zoo is to see the "Little Miracle" cub Xiao Qi Ji. If you want to see him before being separated from Mei Xiang, you'll need to go in the next few months. In February, he'll be at the age that pandas naturally go solo.
Giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji and mother, Mei Xiang. Feeding time's around 2:00?

The Panda Trail offers great views if they're outside.

The zoo is free, $30/car to park. Not not crowded by any means but with the pandemic still gripping, opportunities to get people-less photos can be found with just a little patience. You'll need at least 4 hours to see the whole park, more if you want to linger at any exhibit or wait for the people-less moments to snap a selfie. 🐼

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