Bee My Guest

Life does spring surprises from places you least expect it from. This ‘surprise’ happened in early January and I remembered it today while I was going through the image on the album of my phone camera. That Sunday morning I was overjoyed on seeing a swarm of wild bees hanging from the branch of my cashew nut tree.
honeyIs it really happening, I asked myself?
“Was it there when I came last?”
“No it wasn’t.” said a confident Mangal and asked with caution: “Sure it won’t bite,”
“Only if you disturb it,” I replied.
Standing below the tree it I could hear them buzzing, as if hundreds of machines were whirring, far away.
These were giant bees (apis dorsata) or Indian rock bees. Apis dorsata are slowly disappearing, thanks to human interference. They are the only wild variety among the four species of bees found in the country. Apis cerana, Apis lorea and Melipona irridipennis (dammer bee) are the other three. Unlike other honeybees, Indian rock bees never settle down in an area polluted by air or sound. They help in pollinating flowers on tall trees, like coconut. When their natural habitat is disturbed, they move to tall trees or vacant buildings in human habitations.
Rock bees create colonies below rock cliffs and trunks of huge trees (like they had in my farm), usually inaccessible to people. They are a dependable source of honey, which is in good demand.
As I left for home at around noon I prayed that they remained. However, next day Mangal called me saying the rock bees had left.

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