[NAFEX] Honey bees
William C. Garthright
billg at inebraska.com
Tue Feb 17 17:37:25 EST 2009
Thanks for all the comments! Very interesting.
> I saw a couple of very large bees this summer myself. I went looking and identified them as "carpenter bees". I can certainly say they were docile and the biggest bees I've ever seen.
I looked at pictures of carpenter bees online, but the bee I saw was
longer and thinner. It really did look like the pictures of a queen
honey bee. But it's been a few months now, and I'm sure there are
different species of carpenter bees. So who knows?
> I'd bet you have Yellow Jackets; they do exactly as you described.
I'm certainly no expert, but they didn't look like Yellow Jackets. I got
very good looks at them. On the other hand, this didn't look like the
pictures (Google images, at least) of honey bee swarms. Yes, they looked
like honey bees, but they weren't THAT thick. They were spread out on
all the grapes on two vines (so over a distance of about 15-20 feet,
say). Every bunch of grapes had bees.
> As for a swarm and queen that might have taken a side trip on the way
> to their new home, no chance. If the bees leave their hive in a
> swarm taking their queen with them, they are focused on nothing else
> but getting that queen into her new home.
I only saw the queen (if that's what it was) the one time, but she was
pretty much all alone on that particular bunch of grapes (she's the only
one I had to push off with a stick, at any rate). The rest of the bees
were out there for a few days, at least.
> So, who knows what bees they might have been, but honey bees love
> those split grapes, and apple cider! I'd guess the bulk of your
> friends were honey bees. And for what it is worth, in my limited
> experience, they get up late and work into the evening.
Yes, I'm still convinced that they were honey bees, and they clearly
seemed to be feeding on the split grapes. They were spread out on all
the grapes, and as I picked, they concentrated more and more on the
bunches that remained.
> First, I highly doubt the man who was killed by stings was a victim of
> honey bees. They are very gentle and do not go out looking for a fight.
Yes, I was doubtful of that, myself, which is why I tried to emphasize
that the identification was simply from the news media. Apparently, too,
he'd been stung multiple times. Then again, if a honey bee DOES sting
you, doesn't she release an alarm pheromone with causes the others to
That was my main worry when picking the grapes. The bees were quite
docile, but as I mentioned, they seemed to become more agitated as time
went on. And I was afraid that one attack might be enough to change all
their attitudes! :-)
The bee sting death was in Omaha, Nebraska - not far from here - so I'm
sure they weren't Africanized bees. I don't believe they've come this
far north (or the papers would be full of alarming articles). But I
wouldn't guarantee that the man or his wife really knew what stung him,
or that the news got it right.
Thanks again for the comments. I thought the experience might be
interesting, especially since we all have some familiarity with bees.
Lincoln, NE (zone 5)
We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know
now that it is bad economics. - President Franklin D. Roosevelt
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