[NAFEX] Honey bees

S & E Hills ehills7408 at wowway.com
Mon Feb 16 19:02:03 EST 2009

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.

Scott Hills
Zone 6b Michigan

-----Original Message-----
From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of William C. Garthright
Sent: Monday, February 16, 2009 4:11 PM
To: NAFEX List
Subject: [NAFEX] Honey bees

This is a bit off-topic, but I thought it might be of interest. I live 
in town, and I usually see a few honey bees in my yard in the spring, 
but only a few. Last year, my elderly mother fell and ended up in the 
hospital just as my Concord grapes got ripe. So I didn't get them picked 
right away...

By the time I got around to picking them, they were overly ripe - still 
good (especially sweet, in fact), but badly split. They were also 
covered - thickly covered - in honey bees. I've never seen so many bees 
in my life! I don't know where they came from. The bees seemed to be 
very docile, though, when I went out to pick the grapes. I carefully 
reached in and grabbed each bunch of grapes (trying to avoid actually 
grabbing a bee), cut the stem, and lightly tossed the bunch into a 
plastic bin on the ground. Some of the bees just rode along the whole way.

But as I continued to pick, they seemed to become more agitated. There 
was more and more buzzing from the bees around me. Of course, there were 
fewer grapes left on the vines, too, so the bees became even more 
concentrated. Eventually,... I lost my nerve. I figured I'd pick the 
rest of them at sundown, when I expected the bees to leave.

Well, there *were* fewer bees as it started to get dark, I guess, but it 
was also a lot harder to see what I was doing. Pretty soon, I was going 
mostly by feel, and there were still a LOT of bees around. (I thought 
they went back to the hive at night???) And note that, a few days 
before, a man in Omaha had died of bee stings - from honey bees, 
according to the news - while mowing his lawn. So I was kind of nervous, 
still. Then I reached in, grabbed a bunch of grapes, and brought it out 
to find the biggest bee I've ever seen in my life! It looked similar to 
the honey bees, but about two inches long! Well, thinking about it, I 
suppose it wasn't quite *that* big, but it really was the biggest bee 
I've ever seen, no question about that. Maybe an inch and a half long? 
It was a veritable giant of a bee, anyway.

I set the bunch of grapes on the ground, and gently pushed the monster 
bee off with a stick. It didn't seem to mind. But I decided I'd had 
enough of picking grapes for that day.  :-)

I ended up picking the rest the next day. No sign of the huge bee, and I 
never did get stung.

Lincoln, NE (zone 5)

Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he's buying. - Fran 

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