Tuesday, July 04, 2006
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'.