Monday, September 22, 2008

The Sad Story of Feral Bees and Hurican Ike

On Saturday (20 September) my wife and I decided to go on a looooong walk inspecting the damage of beloved but wounded neighboring Park. Ike had stomped it pretty good. Ike had swept in with little advanced warning as to its severity, and we were very lucky. We lost power for 5 days, but so many others suffered more severely.

Anyway, about 2 miles into our walk, since we had to start from the bottom of the park - couldn't drive up - we surveyed the uprooted and mangled trees. The woodpeckers were in Heaven, with so many colonies of carpenter ants and other bugs exposed for the taking.

I digress a moment. Last Spring, we were walking the same area and came upon a hawk sitting in a tree. It was a bit spooked by our approach and flew off. That's when we heard a ferocious buzzing sound and across from the "hawk tree" we saw a mass (like smoke) of honey bees ferreting out a new home. Feral bees.

My friend, Casper, tells me that feral bees are very rare and so we were impressed, a bit nervous, but proud we could witness such a sight. Each time we walked by that area, we looked but saw very little sign of the bees. We suspected that they didn't take, and had moved on. Saturday, we realized we'd misled ourselves.

The "bee tree" was one of the mangled trees, though the "hawk tree" remained intact.

There were a few bees, so I said "Let's look a minute". As my eyes focused, I saw a bit of bee hive laying on the broken trunk, now laying prostrate on the ground. Then I spied the rest. Sadly, it was split into at least two slabs and that one fragment I first spied: Just laying on top of the felled tree. I suppose the bees had nearly a week to die out, but there were survivors still.

We mourned a moment and then walked on through the debris field. We'll always keep fond memories of the "bee tree" and that lone colony of feral honey bees.