Thursday, October 04, 2012

What's the buzz?

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.



41 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I think they're really cute but i know millions would disagree. Fortunately, not you! :)

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  2. Awesome pictorial! I'm battling with yellow jackets right now because they want to build a nest in my attic--calling an exterminator, they are persistent! Honey bees on the other hand are exalted in our area with a bee keeper just down the road from us. I love baking with honey, especially in the fall, XOXO

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    1. Much as I love all these guys, if I had a wasp nest in my attic, I'd call an exterminator too. Now, if it were a honeybee nest, I'd just call a beekeeper, or remove them myself!

      I have just started doing my baking with honey and I love that!

      It's great you have a beekeeper nearby, too! Do you get honey from him/her?

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  3. now, what do those wasps need so many eyes for?
    I got itchy looking at these :)

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    1. I think the ocelli on bees and wasps, which are light-sensing eyes, help them navigate (I am going off the top of my head here; I used to teach this stuff but it has been years!) The compound eyes help them find flowers and do the day-to-day stuff. Bees don't see red but they do see ultraviolet! Red appears as black to them.

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  4. Honey bees often try to drink from our pool, and become stuck. If when I'm swimming I come across them, I always lift them out on my finger.... I have yet to be stung!

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    1. You are my hero!! I love people who save bees. They need water and if your pool is the closest source, in they go! I have to rescue them from my birdbaths...

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  5. I think I've learned more about bees by looking at your pics and reading you blog than I've learned in my entire life! Thanks. ~ Maureen

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    1. That makes me really happy!!

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  6. Beautiful pictures but far to many bees *smile*.

    Hugs

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    1. Someday I need to get Gordon to take a pic of me taking pics like this, with my camera (and head) stuck in a cloud of bees...

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  7. Sorry! I just couldn't do it. I DO love honey. I DO appreciate bees and all they do. I DO think the colors and patterns of bees can be beautiful. But, I am deathly allergic (as I've mentioned) and have been to the hospital twice. I try to stay calm when a bee arrives for a visit (one joined us at breakfast this morning), but looking at close-up photos makes me feel like I'm going to have a heart attack on the spot. I'll try and work up to it (maybe one photo, one bee, at a time).

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    1. Mitchell, if I had a deadly allergy, I would not go anywhere near any of these gals, and I completely understand why you wouldn't either!!! I am luckily not allergic and in fact bee stings hardly bother me at all. Even my wasp sting didn't swell much; it just hurt!

      Don't have a heart attack on my account. I have a nice kitty-cat picture up for you today! ;)

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  8. The latest buzz is that bees do a lot of good. Go for it, knatolee, just leave me back at the house.

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    1. I'll bring you back a jar of honey!

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  9. Very cool shot. Yes, I agree the yellow jackets are graphically appealing. I just remember the time I stepped on a nest and got stung about 30 times. So, somehow their cuteness is diminished. Still, the pix are great!

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    1. Ow ow ow! That must have hurt like hell. My one sting in the finger hurt for a couple of days!

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  10. Wowzer! Those girlies are cute. Dad taught me how to handle bees when I was a girl so I've never been afraid of them, but wasps...can't stand the bad tempered little buggers.
    Jane x

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    1. Wasps are more annoying too. They can really pester you! There have been a lot buzzing around my head this week.

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  11. The bees are cute, but YELLOW JACKETS ... and then a large WASP ...

    :: runs off sobbing and hyperventilating ::

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    1. There there, Ahab, there there. If it makes you feel better, paper wasps are less aggressive than yellowjackets!

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  12. Wow, Natalie. Your photos are absolutely amazing. I love the mandibles, and the bees frozen mid-flight. Fantastic.

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    1. It's fun trying to catch them in flight. Fast shutter speed!

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  13. Talk about a feeding frenzy! Beautifully documented.

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    1. Thanks Sheri! They go nuts at this time of year over the slightest drop of honey!

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  14. Wonderful sequence of photos! I thought of you this morning watching the network news. They did a story on some beekeepers living in the vicinity of of the factory where they make M & M candies. Apparently, the bees had gotten into some sweetened food colorings and the honey they produced turned out to be blue! Strangely, nobody was buying the blue honey--I don't think I would!

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    1. I just read a news story on that!! I wouldn't want blue honey either. The poor bees just think it's something sweet and take it home. I can't imagine it's all that nutritious for them, either, but there must be enough sugar in the blue stuff to make it appealing!

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  15. Wow, wow and wow, Natalie. I even found the wasps gorgeous (and I agree with you on the contrast of the wasps to the bees). While I have a "strong" dislike of wasps (vicious) and scorpions (shivers), I'm fascinated with how they look and act.

    janet

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    1. Okay, I have held a scorpion at the bug zoo in Victoria, BC. :) I like them but I wouldn't want them running around my house, and since we don't have them up here in the wild, it's easy for me to say I like them. I'm not gonna get stung by one! :) Wasps really are different from honeybees. So much more aggressive!

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  16. Replies
    1. Thank you O Noble One!

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  17. Awesome photos that show minute details. I like the one that shows the three little eyes. You can teach so much with this photography. You can even make somebody like me interested in bees.

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    1. That makes me happy! I'd like to write/illustrate a book along these lines!

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  18. Like some others ... love the bees; hate the yellow jackets!

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  19. I would love to keep bees but I'm allergic and my parents are that keen on buzzing stingers. Therefore, I enjoy seeing your pictures instead!

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    1. I have met a beekeeper who is allergic, but I think it's crazy to keep bees if you have a deadly allergy! It's just far too easy to get stung, even through clothing. Just enjoy the honey! :)

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  20. *aren't. bad grammar, sorry ;)

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  21. I love your bee photos, I'll miss them when the bees are tucked up for the Winter!

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    1. I don't know WHAT the heck I'll photograph this winter! Dust mites??

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  22. Your bee photos are amazing! As much as I love honey bees I still have a hard time thinking the wasps are cute. They look like so alien up close. This would be a great post to share with my readers on my beekeeping blog hop. Check it out! http://www.beverlybees.com/beeline-buzz-hop-1

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Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!