A couple of days ago, I wrote about my encounter with a cockroach and praying mantis, but I haven’t yet spoke of the bees here in Hawaii. Thankfully, I have escaped an up-close, and personal experience with one, but they are worth talking about just the same. If you saw one, you’d know why I say that as their sheer size commands something to be said.
Everyone knows that bees play an important part in the environment and their rapid decline in population has certainly been ‘buzzworthy’ news over the past while. According to the World Bee Project, they are actually responsible for “one-third of all food produced in the world, (as) every third spoon of food, depends on pollination.” An interesting fact, without a doubt. The Bee Project article entitled, “Global Crisis” goes on to talk about how the elimination of the bee species would have “drastic consequences for entire ecosystems and (the) human race.” That being said, I have great respect for bees and the role that they play in biodiversity. However, I am going to change gears and speak more lightly on the topic, if you’ll allow me.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I am in close vicinity of a bee, or worse yet, being chased by one, I’m not exactly thinking, “Hey, good job buddy, thanks for protecting our food sources. Stick around so that you can maintain our livelihood,” as I scream frantically and flail about. Call it human instinct, but to stand there and wait to be stung, just seems plain wrong even though that’s what I have been told to do by multiple sources. Of course, when I am around other people, I try to keep myself somewhat more contained, but it’s a little hard when all that you can think about is the prospect of a sting, which can be very serious for some, even deadly. Touch wood, as you read this–I know I am as I write this–but I have only been stung by a wasp, never a bee so I don’t know what my body’s reaction might be, and honestly, I am good with never really having to find out.
Our first sighting of a bee here was a few years back when we were en route to a local beach on the Big Island. We had just parked the car and were casually headed down the path to the sand. All of the sudden, out of nowhere, a big black thing, the size of a hummingbird, whipped past us and began chasing a fellow who was headed back up to his car. Call us selfish, but we were silently grateful that we were not the intended target, as we barely gleaned what was happening before it was all over. Needless to say the guy did exactly as would be expected, yelling and flailing his arms, and in that moment, we deduced that it had to be some kind of Hawaiian bee. Yikes! No one warned us about those.
At home, the bees that we are most familiar with are the bumblebees and honeybees, with yellow and black stripes and they are fairly modest in size. For the most part, I will say that they do tend to keep to themselves and only every now and again can you expect them to challenge you. But here, the ones that we have seen are jet black and we swear that their wings are big enough to be that of a small bird. Worst of all, is that they appear to jet around with what we describe as the ‘angry bee look’ almost as though they are on a mission to flat-out kill. It’s kind of scary to be honest. The look and energy of such a bee makes it clear that one would lose out in a battle against it regardless of how much flapping and running around one does. Thus, my husband and I have since developed an alert system for each other when one is flying nearby, so that if need be (if even possible), we can high-tail it out of the area. Quite simply, we holler out, “Angry bee guy,” and right away it’s heads-up and each of us begins to scout out a potential getaway path. It is kind of funny to think about, but kind of not. What is funny is that after a brief sighting of one, I’m always left thinking, “Gee, what’s up with these bees? If any bees deserve to be angry, it’s the ones that we have back home because most types get killed off in the midst of our long, winter thralls. By contrast, the ones here, in my mind anyway, should be happily floating about–I mean, after all they are in Hawaii, a well-known paradise of warmth with an obvious wealth of plants/flowers to pollinate. So, just what is it that they appear to be so angry about?”
Of course, with a little bit of internet research, we have come to learn that the type of bee that has us randomly announcing, “Angry bee guy” is known as the carpenter bee. They are the largest bee in Hawaii (fantastic!) and it’s actually the females that are jet black, whereas the males are golden-orange in colour.
Apparently, they use their strong mandibles to carve out tunnels in wooden structures to nest in, such as dead tree stumps, fence posts, railings and lanais (and probably people’s legs too, but they just don’t wanna tell us that little nugget of information!). We do have a lanai, lucky and unlucky us. Thankfully, none of the said bees have yet to choose our particular spot as a nesting place and hopefully, we can keep it that way while we are here. In the meantime, as we enjoy our remaining time on our oceanfront porch, we will rely on our designated alert system to keep us safe:-). Isn’t that the bees-knees?