The Green Bee’s Magical Transformation
As a Buddhist, I generally put up with household pests and try my best not to kill the ants, flies,
cockroaches, centipedes and the numerous other insects that I share my Hawaiian home with.
Keeping it clean generally minimizes their numbers enough that we can go about our business
without getting in each others’ way.
However, there are some insects that can do a lot of structural damage to a home if left
unchecked. Termites, of course come to mind; but there is also the lesser known carpenter bee, a
bumble bee sized, black, bee whose ability to drill holes is rivaled only by woodpeckers. Carpenter
bees drill half inch wide tunnels straight into a home’s wood, excavating as much as six inches or
more. When her drilling is complete she will create “brood cells” to deposit her larvae.
A large number of these bees had concentrated themselves in one fascia board of my home, and a
couple of support beams beneath it. I realized that if I didn’t get rid of the bees, I would soon
have to replace the fascia board and repair the beams.
A good paint job and plugging their holes is a great deterrent to carpenter bees, and I set aside a
day for it. Not all went as planned, however. During the painting process, as a carpenter bee was
about to enter her hole, I became overwhelmed by the moment, lost my Buddhist mindfulness, and
thoroughly doused her with paint. Covered in paint, she fell to the pavement almost thirty feet
below. I continued my work painting, but was now nagged by my “taking the whole thing
personal,” so to speak.
About two hours later I was done painting. It was about time for my daily swim at Makena Beach
and I walked down to my guest house to put on my trunks. This took me past the carpenter bee
encrusted in green paint. I thought to bury her with a prayer, as much for her sake as healing my
As I stooped to pick her up with a garden shovel, I noticed slight movement beneath the paint. She
was still alive. I hesitated a moment wondering if washing her might remove the paint, but, as the
paint had for the most part dried, I thought that this would only increase her suffering. If I bury
her now, her suffering would be less, and so I buried her in my herb garden, with a prayer that she
would find such a fine garden in her next life. And that was that. So I thought.
But, the image of the green bee could not be shaken from my mind, nor could the fact that my self
restraint and mindfulness yielded to momentary anger and subsequently dousing the bee with paint.
I felt helpless to shake the disappointment in myself, as helpless as to bring the bee back to life. I
wished the whole incident had never happened, but it did.
I decided to stay home and not go for my swim. Instead, I busied myself in my yard. Soon the sun
was setting and I was exhausted
As I was putting things away, however, I thought again about the green carpenter bee and decided
that I should plant something in her memory. I had been eating some dates on my porch some
months earlier and poked one of the seeds into the flower pot of my Desert Rose. It was now a six
inch green shoot and it was this that I decided to plant above the green carpenter bee in her
Using the same garden shovel that I used to bury the carpenter bee, I dug up the date seedling and
planted it. Once this was done, I smothered it in water from my large steel coffee mug. I was
especially mindful not to allow any run off, and built a dirt ring around it so that all the water
would remain close to the newly planted root. This special care was to have unexpected results.
Feeling good now and uplifted, I went inside my shrine room to recite a Tara mantra and think
about the day. The image of the dying carpenter bee smothered in green paint was now mixed with
the seedling I had planted. I was at peace with this whole episode and thought it was over.
The following day around noon, after my meditation, I went upstairs to see if any bees were milling
about the newly painted fascia board. There were none. Pleased, I decided to do some work in my
guest house. As I walked down the steep driveway beside the herb garden leading to it, I paused a
moment to see how the date seedling was doing; and, because the green vibrance of the previous
day had slightly diminished, I squatted beside it to have a better look. As I carefully inspected the
seedling, my attention was drawn to the soil near its base. It was beginning to move and crack.
Soon emerged the green carpenter bee; she was no longer green, however, but jet black and as
good as new. She ruffled her wings a bit before flying to my papaya tree a few feet away. She sat
upon one of its broad green leafs for quite some time before circling skyward and disappearing.