It wasn’t long after the initial pandemic lockdowns that I stepped outside and found a man and a woman in what appeared to be hazmat suits thrashing around the olive trees in front of our house. My first thought was that Dr. Fauci had found out about that time I didn’t wear a mask and was sending in the quarantine squad, Shanghai-style. Hey, nothing surprises me anymore…
But actually, it was a sting. As in ouch, a sting! No sooner had I called out a query to the bulkily clad figures than YOW! I was stung! It turned out they were volunteers called by a neighbor whose bees had absconded (that’s actual apiary terminology) from their hive and were swarming in our olive trees. Apparently, humans were not the only ones to get the “work remotely” memo. These bees did NOT want to go back to their office!
I nursed the sting on my neck for a few days and then forgot about the bees. We’ve always seen them here and there, even during the so-called “bee apocalypse” when there was great concern that the very existence of honeybees was imperiled. According to RealClearScience as reported on the popular web site LiveScience, all the buzz about disappearing bees was in general, overblown. Bees do face real threats including pesticides and loss of habitat but they are not facing extinction.
At least not in my yard.
Not too long after I bumbled into that first bee encounter, I heard a steady thrum coming from somewhere near our orchard. Whether it was the same swarm of bees that were eyeing our olive trees or not, I don’t know, but bees from somewhere had found refuge in an apparent hollow in the trunk of the big pepper tree that stands by our garden gate.
Day after day we heard them – these were busy bees! Our gopher control guy showed up one day and expressed concern. “You need to have those bees removed”, he warned us. “When fall comes, they’ll become aggressive and you’ll have a real problem.”
I guess we were too busy thinking about the real problems we already had, because we didn’t bother to do anything about the bees. Truthfully, we liked having bees as guests. It made us feel like we were living in a little eco-paradise, our own fractional Hundred Acre Wood where Pooh or some other brave soul could stick a paw in that pepper tree hollow and come out with a handful of honey.
The bees did their thing and we did ours. Fall came and went without any bee aggression. And the buzz died down. We guessed, with some regret, that the bees had moved on.
Ah, we of little faith! I was today years old when I learned that while bees don’t actually hibernate, they do cluster in their hives over the winter months to keep warm. Those bees never left – they were just waiting for spring. And now, our buzz is back!
When the light is just right it looks as if sunbeams are spilling out from the tree trunk as the bees emerge to carry out their daily work. And they don’t have far to go. The other day I found that one had discovered our apple blossoms just on the other side of the wall – see it there on the lower left?
And this morning one was working a nearby hedge – lower right of the photo:
Lately it seems the world is crashing around us a thousand different ways every day, but a little “vitamin bee” sets things right for me. I don’t know why they chose us – according to a thread on Quora, bees seek “a large cavity with plenty of room for the colony to expand, impervious to rainfall…sunlight in the early morning to warm things up and shade the rest of the day to keep things from getting too warm.” Well, that pepper tree trunk does face northeast, now that I think of it! Maybe they came to us because we had the “dream house” they were looking for. Or maybe they came just bee-cause… 🙂
I have to admit the visual of Fauci rummaging around in your bushes made me LOL. Excellent post, as always.
What a delightful post!!!