Saturday, 3 May 2014

The bee's knees

Some more nature nerdism this week (well, it was either that or nerdy naturism but that can wait).

I have a buzzing box. I mean - a bird box, which has been used by its intended hosts for a few years and from which many a cute little bluetit has stretched its wings and flown. They haven't been interested in it this year, though, and when I was pruning the honeysuckle which grows around it I realised why. I accidentally tapped the box and immediately after I heard a strange sound. A kind of hissing, sizzling, zzizzing. I thought maybe there was someone playing a Kazoo nearby – which would be fun but unlikely – it wasn't Pink Floyd's Corporal Clegg anyway, that's for sure. I tapped it once more, deliberately this time, and there it was again – from inside. Seems that the bluetits have lost out this year to a bumblebee.

I can't wait to see the comings and goings of a colony of bumbles! Right now I presume that Queen Bee is in there, tucked away safely under the mossy remains of a previous bird nest, having survived hibernation somewhere over the winter. She will lay eggs and start up a new colony, which will last for only one season. She didn't hear my tapping – she doesn't have any ears! - but she would have felt the vibration and her buzzing was a warning for me not to pop in there and lay my own eggs. Still, I have nothing to fear as I'm not a bluetit and bumblebees very rarely sting, so I welcome the presence of this lovely, unassuming but important insect, especially as their numbers are in serious decline.

What is it they say - that if all the bees died, humans would have only four years to live? Seems a bit extreme but we get the gist. There's some hope for us yet, anyway.

The Bees:  Voices Green and Purple


  1. That warning to the human race is quite probably true. Good luck with keeping the queen bee in regal splendour and hope that she breeds well.

    1. Hope so. Wish I had a webcam in there!

  2. Now in their 3rd year in situ, one of our bird boxes has blue tits in residence for the very first time. They've taken so much nest building material inside that I can't believe there's actually any room left for a nest! I'm ridiculously excited!
    Perhaps I should tap the other box to see if it contains a bee? Fascinating stuff C and a great tune.

    1. Oh that's brilliant TS! I totally understand your excitement. You will love it so much when you start to hear the tinkling voices of the littl'uns and then a little face or two peeping out the hole as they get ready to fledge!

  3. When I was a kid, there was a spot in our backyard...three big loblolly pines that formed a triangle. The base of each tree was set down in a big pile of azalea bushes.

    In the spring time, the bumble bees swarmed it...the big yellow and black stripes were easy to pick out against the pink flowers.

    I've been seeing them behind the office where I smoke but I've never seen as many in one spot as I used to in that back yard.

    On another note, I have been visited twice this weekend by the same bird. He flies into my room and can't figure how to get out until I turn off the light. I think he's left some droppings on a few of my paintings...critic.

    1. Ooh, I've never seen a swarm - I think that would be a bit unsettling! - but a small colony going about their business would be great.

      I wonder what your little bird is and what he's after? An aspiring avian artist perhaps. A pied painterbird or a greater spotted dauber?

    2. Maybe swarm was a little dramatic but, it was a big colony...every year.

      Delightfully...I came in hear to paint, after church, and heard the unmistakable sound of a fighter plane outside the garage. It was bumble bee coming by for a quick visit.

      That damn bird is part of a very agitated fact the cat and he are bleating at one another right now...who have set up a nest somewhere along the drive way. They are really gettin' loud with one another out there.

      At this point, I have to assume that the bird was in here to tell me to get the **** out!

    3. The sound of a fighter plane? Imagine a swarm of them!
      Love the way dramas just unfold constantly outside our windows - who needs soap opera?


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