Okay you bee-phobic types. Look away now. Or don't look away, and maybe I'll turn you into bee-lovers!
I took this a couple of weeks ago after I extracted honey. I had two boxes of supers I wanted the bees to clean up for me, so I put them in the wheelbarrow and took them down behind the barn, well away from my hives.
After you extract honey, there is residual honey left in the wax. There are various ways of cleaning this up. This is the fast way, but it can spread disease. However, I have no other beekeepers near me and I needed this done fast, so I put the two supers out for the day and let the girls do the work.
As expected, they went crazy!
I had a bit of honeycomb that I put out too. As you can see, it was HIGHLY popular with both the honeybees and the yellow jackets.
Fuzzy adorable BEE BUMS!
By the way, I got nailed on the finger by a yellowjacket two days ago. I knew right away it wasn't a bee sting, because it hurt about 100 times more. I was feeding my bees sugar syrup, and as I was leaving, I picked up a ball of scrunched-up masking tape I'd left on a hive. I didn't realize there was a yellowjacket inside when I squeezed it. The swearing could be heard a kilometre away. I believe the word "b*tch" was used approximately 50 times in a row.
But as you can tell, I'm not exactly fearful of bees and wasps...
I did put on a baseball cap to keep my hair back, because bees do love to get tangled in it, which rarely has a happy ending. However that was all the protection I had had when I stuck my camera inches from the swarms of honey-crazed stinger-gals.
The bee in the centre got herself covered in honey. Her hungry friends were more than happy to help clean her off!
Yellowjackets int he front, honeybees in the back. As you can see, they are getting along pretty well, but fights do break out and some bees and wasps end up stung to death.
I like this little circle of stripeys sucking back some honey on a dandelion leaf inside the wheelbarrow!
Nice mandibles, baby.
In this photo, you can truly appreciate the hairiness of the wonderful apis mellifera.
These girls are intent on sucking out every last drop of golden goodness.
This little girl has some wax stuck to her. You can really see her reddish tongue (proboscis) here.
And a paper wasp showed up to join the party.
I think she's beautiful!
A yellowjacket slumming it with some honeybees.
Here's the paper wasp again. Can you see the three spots on the top of her head, between the tops of two large compound eyes? Those are the wasp's three ocelli, or simple eyes. More info on wasps here.
You can see some of the bees and wasps sticking their heads way down into each wax cell, sucking up every last drop of honey.
I like the strong, graphic lines and sharp colours of the yellowjackets, contrasted with the softer tones of the beautiful golden honeybees. I think it's pretty easy in this photo to tell the difference between the wasps and the bees, but people often have trouble with that.
Soon, in November, the bees will have clustered tightly in their hives and I'll be wrapping them up for winter. But right now it's still unseasonably warm (23C today!), and flowers are blooming, so the bees are out and about. We have yet to have a killing frost, but it's coming. There won't be many more macro bug shots for a while after that.