BUSY BEES

There were maybe 100 bees buzzing around the two hanging feeders on the deck. I assumed they were yellow jackets because we’ve had a lot of trouble here with hornets and wasps — and especially yellow jackets who have nested in several places on this property, including in and around the electric metering box. It’s a nice cubbyhole for bad-tempered yellow jackets.

Honeybee. She looks Italian to me

I remember while looking at those bees thinking that for yellow jackets, these guys didn’t have those sharp black stripes on a bright yellow body. They were almost solid yellow down their thorax. Also, I didn’t get stung even though I stuck my hands in to remove the feeders which, for yellow jackets, was unusual. Yellow jackets are aggressive and unlike bees, they can sting you many times and won’t die.

Bees, on the other hand, are peaceful and won’t sting unless their lives are threatened. I put a mental note to look up honeybees versus yellow jackets and see if perchance, those weren’t yellow jackets, but bees.

Honeybees. To be entirely accurate, Italian honeybees — Apis mellifera ligustica — which are the most frequently kept bees on farms where honey is produced. They are quite passive and easy to manage, probably the easiest of all the bees to raise. They aren’t the most prolific honey producers, but they are mellow. If you are just starting to raise bees, these are likely to be your first choice.

They are not native to North America having been introduced from Italy in 1859.
Slightly smaller than Northern European bees, they can be found all across Europe and North America. Almost of our honey producing bees were imported from various places in Europe. The first of them (the Northern European group) came over on the Mayflower.

How, you ask, did Italian bees wind up on our deck? We have beekeepers nearby. If you ignore roads and fly straight through the woods, you’d wind up on the farms that line the Blackstone River. They all sell their own honey. I think these were “lost” bees. If I knew where they came from, I’d have returned them. But really? I haven’t seen any signs on poles saying:

Lost, two bee swarms seeking new hives.
If found, please call…

Our hanging cage feeders are hive shaped and it was the first warm day of the season. I’m guessing the bees had a new queen and were looking to build a hive. Italian bees are also famous for “getting lost.” It snowed the next day, so I don’t think they’d have had much luck on our deck, nor are the bird feeders big enough for more than a few bees. They hung around for awhile. I think they were confused by the loss of their intended new hives. Eventually they flew back into the woods. I hope they found another place to live.

Sunflower with bees


Categories: #Flowers, Anecdote, Blackstone Valley, House and home, New England

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12 replies

  1. We don’t hardly have any bees anymore around here. Honey bees. Used to be that the flower sales department at Home Depot had so many bees buzzing around there that you had to be cautious when buying. Now the last few years there are next to none. All gone. Same with Sweet Peas in the back yard – used to have bees all over them. Not now. They say it’s because of insecticide and herbicide use, habitat loss, and global warming and certain diseases that attacked the bee colonies.
    I sure hope they can make a comeback because we NEED bees. And I like them too.

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    • I felt bad about the bees but even had I known, our deck is not a place for hives. Keeping bees requires care and I know I’m not up to it. But you are right. There used to be a lot more bees. We still have some, probably because so many farms nearby breed them for honey and there are always escapees … but wild bees? Bumblebees have gotten quite rare and I don’t even know what a wild honeybee looks like. These were obviously tame bees from a nearby farm.

      Without bees, we are going to have a lot less food. We don’t actually have the ability to pollinate on our own. That really isn’t a job humans can do. But all things considered? Killing off the bees is just one more horror we are perpetrating on our Earth.

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  2. Your photos remind me of how much I love to watch the bees 🙂 Roll on summer!

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    • I hope I see some wild bees this summer. I haven’t seen a butterfly in a couple of years. They are gone. Completely gone. Wild bees are rare. You see a few bumble bees now and then, but mostly, if you see bees, they are “tame” bees — escapees from the farms. Still, I’m all in favor of summer. I keep hoping things will be better this year. I keep hoping every year.

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  3. I like bees and all insects, including spiders, although I have respect for them. Unfortunately, I am allergic to the bacteria carried by bees and get blood poisoning if I get stung. I have to be very careful.

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    • I am afraid of spiders, though I try not to harm them. One of them took a piece out of Garry that left him limping for months and on antibiotics too. Ironically, the big wolf spiders which terrify me are NOT poisonous, but those little brown recluse spiders are seriously poisonous as are black widows.

      I do like the bees and wish we had more of them, but like butterflies, they are disappearing in the wild. As far as I know, I’m not allergic to them, though I know people who are and you do have to be very careful. I hope you have an epi-pen handy all summer!

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      • HI Marilyn, I do have the necessary medications on hand and am careful about bees. I am wary of spiders as we have poisonous spiders here too … and snakes, but I do like them and find them interesting. I also try to never kill them.

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  4. Poor bees 🐝

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    • I know. But they really would not have survived 24 hours on our deck, not with below freezing weather and snow the following day. I hope they found a place to hide. We have many open acres of woods just a very short way from the deck — literally a stone’s throw which I can make and I’m not a great thrower. It was too early for them to be awake and flying around. The weird weather we are having makes insects think it’s summer when it really isn’t.

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