Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bee Tree!


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A few days ago, I was standing beneath a fine cabbage palm that leans over my driveway when I became aware of a constant buzzing. The sound seemed to be coming from overhead, so I peered up through the wild grape vines and palm fronds. High up in the crown were stalks of palm blossoms and they were alive with honey bees.

Real bees! Honey bees have had a tough time of it lately with imported mites and other problems and seem a lot scarcer than I remember as a kid. Not to mention having to compete with the imported "Killer Bees" which are sneaking in to do jobs the honey bees should be doing. It's just not a good time for our gentle European honey bees. (yes, they are imported too, but I think they came through Ellis Island)

I watched them for a while. It was good to see them all busy and buzzy. Later that morning, I spotted more of them flying to and from a dripping water faucet. Good, very good.

In the still too hot late afternoon, I took a stroll along the old go kart path that snakes through my back woods. The gokart is missing a belt and has been laid up for a while, so the path has quieted and closed in a little. As I was passing behind the berm of my shooting range, I walked right into a bee highway. I froze, remembering another day, but these were bees not hornets, so I inched closer to investigate. In an old oak, a knothole was swarming with bees. Arriving and departing flights slipped past each other with biorobotic precision.

IT WAS A BEE TREE! I have a bee tree just like in the cartoons! (the cartoons I grew up with...)

I got close for a quick shot, but then it occurred to me that Florida has the Killer Bees and that I wouldn't know an Africanized bee from a European bee if my life depended on it. Wowsers, I should have had that thought a little earlier...

I backed away slowly and continued my walk. These are most certainly "good" honeybees, since I did get so close without a sting, and the more aggressive Killers are still the odd rarity around Florida.

I'm stoked! This is a first for my little piece of PureFlorida.

Bee seeing ya'. Posted by Picasa

20 comments:

pablo said...

I'm envious. I've only seen one honey bee in my woods, but I'm hoping she was part of a mighty sisterhood and I have a bee tree somewhere in my forest.

Floridacracker said...

Pablo,
Somewhere in your vast land holdings, there is bound to be a hive someday.

pablo said...

vast!

roger said...

don't worry, bee happy.

maybe florida will americanize the african bees.

roger

Betsy said...

What kind of tree was it? I don't suppose the bees have a preference, as long as the tree has an appropriate hollow.

Floridacracker said...

Pablo,
EXPANSIVELY vast...as far as you can see is mine kinda vastness.

roger,
here's hoping for crossbreeding that accents the good of both.

betsy,
It's an old laurel oak, not dead, but with some heart rot as most of my laurel oaks have.

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

That's a great find for you. We are learning how to locate bee trees out here. Here's a post I wrote about coursing bees in the Ozarks you may be interested in seeing:

http://www.mitzenmacher.net/blog/?p=91

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Mrs. S said...

Ooh! Congratz on your Bee Tree discovery! You're just like Pooh Bear, or the Bearenstein Bears! (though I'm not sure I spelled that second one correctly) Are you going to learn how to harvest the honey? Or just let them 'bee'?

(hope you prepared yourself for a lot of BEE puns today ;))

Hick said...

Must bee kismet that I stopped by your place first today to wish you a Hapbee Independence Day. (Where's your steak?)

Anyway...beeing Beemused in the Country...and bored...its nice to come by here and see such a bee-utiful bee tree.

Very bee-coming!

(Mrs. S...does this qualify? I can do more...some-bee-body stop me.)

Floridacracker said...

Hal,
Thanks for the link. I will check it out ASAP. Happy Independence Day!

Mrs. S,
As for those bee puns...
I bee ready!

Hick!
Serendipity baby!
Wonderful to see you back in the blogosphere. Your fans were lost and beeside themselves during your absence.

Mrs. S said...

I think Hick should win some sort of prize for that comment... I can't even beegin to think of a good way to describe it! ;)

Floridacracker said...

Mrs. S,
Hick is the master of beequips.

Ava said...

Awesome bee picture. I'm very glad that you did not get stung or chased.

Bees always scare me. My neighbor had bees and I would go out in the morning to do chores and have to walk through the bees in my backyard. I never got stung, but it always gave me the creeps. I do like bees, though.

Leslie said...

Oh, how COOL! You'll note I refrained from bad jokes like "This is the bees knees" or "I bet this news created quite a buzz at your house."

The pic is definitely worth a click to view large. Lucky you! Congrats!!

Thunder Dave said...

As long as you don't try to drive your truck over the hive, you (and the bees)should bee OK!

Floridacracker said...

Ava,
These seem pretty nice.

Leslie,
Thanks, I do feel lucky to have BEEn so blessed.

Thunder,
I learn from my mistakes...mostly.

Wayne said...

Now, in addition to looking under leaves and turning over rocks and checking under rotting logs and examining flowers, look and listen for a bee tree. Hey, I can do all that.

Very nice find. A wild honeybee colony is a definite keeper! Keep an eye out in the next couple of months to see if you can watch it swarm as it outgrows and "reproduces".

Speaking of swarms, and while we have temporarily gotten out of the beekeeping hobby, one of the curious things at that time was that people do call to find out what to do when they find a swarm. It's a touching sort of thing because in every case the calls were motivated by concern for the well-being of the swarm. In some cases it was possible to collect it and introduce into a hive (honeybee swarms are remarkably docile, if you know what you're doing).

Floridacracker said...

Wayne,
Once when I was a Ranger (how many of my tales start with that line...) we had a honeybee swarm appear underneath a park bench on the top of the Castillo de San Marcos. We just roped off that bastion, put up a homemade sign, and the next morning the swarm had moved on.

swamp4me said...

I have definite envy. It has been years since I have found any "wild" bees out in the swamp. Treebeard and I thought we heard a swarm out on the pond a couple of weeks ago, but we never saw it.

Floridacracker said...

Swampy,
My son asked me, "What good are they?

I just said, " Do you like to eat?"