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Bee nice to the Bees

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on August 8, 2008

I don’t often write about my husband, but yesterday’s story is a hoot and I thought I would share the experience. Valiantly, my husband strives to improve our various gardens with soil improvement, polinating tricks, new plants and such. We had been watching a bee try to drink from one of my various Hummingbird feeders when the conversation came up about where maybe these bee may have a hive. I often get stories from him that start with, “When I was a boy, we used to….” This time, it was about how they tracked down bees.

When I was a boy, we used to capture a couple of bees, tie a string to it and watch it fly across the sky to see where it was going.  Yea, right, I sort of chuckled at him – I’d like to see that! So, to prove a point, he went in the house to get a jar, but wasn’t able to capture a bee. I thought nothing more of the conversation.

Later….well, I was gone to the store for our weekly grocery run and when I came in, the dogs were whining to be let in the house, my son was helping to carry in the groceries and my husband, supposedly, was out toodling in the gardens. Seeing that the dogs were whining for me, my husband knew I was home and came into the house all excited. Honey, you have to come see this! (Oh, boy, I’m enthused to see more dirt piles and the latest ‘idea’.)

I walk out the back door and see the bird bath swarming with bees. Apparantly, my husband had been watering and noticed 5-6 bees drinking from the bath. He tried to watch where they were flying to and couldn’t quite follow (older eyes, you know) the erratic path of 1 or 2 bees at a time. So, to improve the situation, he added more water, some sugar and a little red hummingbird food to the mix. Now he had hundreds of bees swarming in for the feast. Come stand here, he says, and watch where they are going. Oooh, ick. But gamely, I stood in the flight path to watch where the bees were going. Now this is scarey to me because most things that fly and go buzz make me back pedal and run because I know they sting.

The experience was indescribable, but I’ll try. I stood there in the middle as hundreds of bees zoomed in for water then flew back across the yard on a path above and between the trees. It was similar to watching a space war flick where they amp up to light speed and the stars seem to zoom by you. I could watch the bees as they flew away and see their trail going beyond our acre and over/around the trees in the neighboring yard. It was like a line was drawn in the sky. The bees did not stop to touch me, just veered slightly away and kept to their paths. It was creepy, but beautiful.

In no time, the water was nearly gone (1/2 inch) and I went back inside to finish sorting through the pantry and putting dry goods away. I told my son to go check it out, but the bee swarm seemed to be getting larger and many flew around the back door, so his trip outside was brief. The dogs – stayed in and wanted nothing to do with going out back. My son opened a window to watch from inside and told us the water was gone. Checking, my husband discovered he was right and went out to refill the bird bath. Then comes the story – when I was a young boy

So, to prove a point, my husband goes out to catch a bee and brings it in the house. How do you hold it to tie a string to it? Well, you shake the jar a little till the guy is senseless, then pick him up carefully. OK, my husband does this – in the kitchen – and dumps the little bee on the counter. Then lifts the jar and tries to pick it up. BUZZ….zoom. Now the bee is loose in the house and we are trying to follow it. Finally, my husband calls for the fly swatter, and fwap! It’s dead on the floor. Next time, he goes outside and catches two more, but decides he is going to tie them up outside on the patio. Pretty soon, he comes in and tells us ‘these bees are too dumb and too weak’. End of experiment, for now. I wouldn’t mind feeding the bees a little, once in a while, but maybe next time it won’t be in the birdbath so close to the back door?


One Response to “Bee nice to the Bees”

  1. Moranna said

    What a hoot!! I know what you mean about the bees flying around you, and veering away so they did not touch.
    I lived in an old cottage in the South of England and every year the bees would fly into the roof and ‘set up home’ and disappear in early autumn. It is against the law to eradicate bees in a house (wasps yes, thank god, but not bees). I am allergic to both bees and wasps stings, but although the bees were always flying around, I was never stung once in all the years I was there. It did put off several visitors though!!!

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