August 23, 2009 § 17 Comments

The garden required some cleanup following a major storm. The bees allowed me in and out as I worked cutting away broken stems and beat up blossoms.  I am typically terrified, in bursts, by bees. Not that they mistake me for a flower, just that they seem so directionless and come bumbling at me and I think it’s a bullying tactic (whether or not it is, it’s effective) and I flee, also emitting the ritual girly scream. Yes, I’ve been stung and I hate it. (I also hate needles, shots, etc.  Also, stinging is not popular with the bee himself because he leaves his stinger and venom pouch behind in the “stingee” and this ultimately ruptures his little abdomen and does him in.)

But yesterday, they were busy and pollen hungry and I was wearing nothing flower-esque and they let me go in and out among the flower bushes BUT they were quite possessive of the blooms that were heads-up into the sun. So, we gave one another space, except for those bees who tumbled over one another on certain flowers in pollen ecstasy…and then I grabbed my camera.


I haven’t read the book THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES yet. And now it’s a movie and I’m stuck in my book-movie rule of book first, movie second.  Watching the bees yesterday and working among them has me curious  although though the book is likely not bee-centric.

Interesting to note however, that honey bees ARE the only insects that produce food for us.
Their average life span during honey production time is six weeks. Good thing the queen lays about 2,000 eggs a day.
In a single day, a bee will visit from 50 to 1,000 flowers but can do thousands! 
They travel at about 13 to 15 mph. That’s fast. You’d think it would blow the pollen off their little jointy legs.  Other than when they’re in hover mode among the flowers, it’s no wonder we don’t often see them often, you know, like when we’re biking down the street or mowing the lawn. We might only hear that dopplered buzz.
Bees have five eyes. They can perceive movement separated by  1/300th of a second.  We can perceive movement separated by 1/50th of a second.  I knew it! I knew they can see and follow me. But they’re not really interested.
Bees cannot see the color red. Don’t ask me. No, I haven’t been a bee for a day but them’s the facts – no perception of the color red.
They communicate with one another about flower distance and location by “dancing” and are huge fans of the TV hit “So You Think You Can Dance.”  (OK, no, but couldn’t resist.) Note however that if a bee were to watch a movie, it could perceive every frame of the movie – yup, that’s how highly tuned that five-eye movement perception thing works.

Now, what about the book? Is it good? Is it long and lovely or quick and pointed? Just curious.


blissful or busy? both, I hope.


And you can often easily tell where they’ve been, as they “track” pollen all over the flowers!


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§ 17 Responses to SECRET LIVES …

  • shoreacres says:

    Here’s my bee story. I was working on a boat in Port O’Connor and drinking real Coke from a can. I didn’t know bees love sugar, and go after it like a dessert-crazed human.

    I picked up the coke, took a drink, and got the bee. Luckily, I didn’t swallow it, but I got stung on my lip. That’s when I learned you have to TAKE OUT THE STINGER. I got to the little convenience story and bought my benadryl before the clerk looked at me and said something like, “You stupid woman – get that stinger out!” So I did. And it was better. For several days I did look like I’d been in a bar fight, though.

    It maes me feel better to know from reading your entry here that my nasty little attacker died, even though it really wasn’t his fault 😉

    • oh says:

      and then there are bees of different types. The one we call the “yellow jacket” here in the Midwest can sting and live to sting again and again! it’s the honeybee who inadvertently sacrifices himself. But I gotta look into – overall, a sting is a sting is a sting and they’re awful!

  • What fantastic images. The bees in my yard a more fluffy and yellow. I will try try to get a good look today and see, but in Australia, we also have these gorgeous blue bees, they are native ones and they have fat curved bodies, like a jelly bean. They are quite fluffy and have blue and black stripes across their backs, but the real bonus is that the don’t sting.

    • oh says:

      Hi, Scarlet,
      You have bees that are blue and fluffy like jellies and do NOT sting? they sound kinda magical. Very cool. Fairy tale-esque.

  • ds says:

    So…the secret to avoiding bees (or having them avoid you) is to wear red? Good to remember. Mr. L-S. is phobic…
    Wonderful pictures! I nearly missed the pollen tracks, but I’ll bet the bees wouldn’t have. They are fascinating creatures–from a distance.

    • oh says:

      well, I guess we can bash the “wear red” idea. HM came home wearing a red-ish shirt, brushed past the huge sunflower bush and darned if one of those fuzzy bumbles didn’t try to sting him – twice, but he swatted and discouraged the little buzzer so both got away pretty much unscagthed. But nix the red-for-safety. Darn.

  • Becca says:

    Bees scare me, I admit it. I’m allergic to their sting, so what is painful and annoying to others could mean a trip to the emergency room for me. So I typically fun like a maniac when they come buzzing around me.

    I loved seeing them in your photos, though 🙂

    And I enjoyed the movie Secret Life of Bees, although I had not read the book (that breaks my rule, too!)

  • shoreacres says:

    Serendipity strikes again…

    I just happened to find this great post on weatherunderground this a.m., with easy, specific advice on what to do if the worst happens and that stinger becomes your property.

    Benadryl and baking soda: the answer to bees 😉

    • oh says:

      We almost tried it – just in case tonight when HM was stung there was a stinger (but there wasn’t) but nice to have an antidote!!!! thanks!

  • Nora says:

    I think you’d like the book. I have it on my bookshelf at home; you’re welcome to borrow it.

    I gobbled the book up because…
    * It takes place during the civil rights movement, one of my favorite time periods to read about
    * It’s a quick read yet has lovely imagery, solid plot and loveable (except for a few) characters

    The movie…
    * I’m glad I saw it. Queen Latifah is lovely, as is Alicia Keys
    * It’s a tad long, so have another chore to do while you’re watching it. I wrote cards while I had it on.

    • oh says:

      thanks for the loan of the book, Laylou! oh boy, I need a reading vacation!!!! Nope, don’t have to go anywhere, just enjoy the house and weather and books.

  • jeanie says:


    I’m so glad I could download most of these beautiful photos — I’ll have to take a better look at them when I get back to work!

    I don’t have a bee story. I was stung in a most boring way, my fingers gently brushing the shrubs or flowers in planters (probably flowers, but I don’t remember which) as I was walking down a city street. Apparently, I disturbed someone! So, I’ve always been rather careful of that ever since! But I loved the whole premise of the bees here, the bee life, the bee facts (and your comment in the post after about the dazed bee — that’s the kind of thing I think about, too!)

    Thank you for the wonderful note and treat that arrived in yesterday’s mail. Since I’m home with bronchitis, I’m needing little joybits when they come and that certainly did it for me! Merci! More later. j

  • Care says:

    I don’t have any bee stories either but I have it on my challenge list to read some nonfiction about why the decline in honeybees. I did read The Secret Life of… but have yet to see the movie. The book was good.

  • Bree says:

    Personally, I thought the book was horrible and couldn’t finish it. I attempted to read it for my defunked book club 2 years ago. Some people liked it and some hated it like me. I have no desire to see movie. Based on my opinion, I’d just go see the movie and forget it was even a book first. This is what I intend to do with Inkheart as I just couldn’t get “into” the book but can’t wait to see Brandon Frasier in the movie.

    Love the bee pictures. I suck as a photographer and can’t even use a digital camera properly (nor do I own one). I know – How behind in the times can I get?

    Bee story – last year I was mowing the back yard while teens did yard work. Suddenly I started freaking out, screaming and running around. My daughter was like Mom Mom whats the matter? while chasing after me. I had run over a inground bee hive with the lawn mower (with my headphones on so I couldnt hear my daughter). I had bees all over and a good 10 stings. Totally sucked. THEN the next time we mowed, I was doing the front yard this time and the same damn thing happened. Such luck.

    Needless to say, I am now a cautious lawn mowerer.

  • qugrainne says:

    The book is great – so is her book The Mermaid Chair. You will like both, I guarantee.
    I have never been stung by a bee. And I am in the garden alllll the time. Just lucky I guess. Knock on wood.
    Sorry – this layout doesn’t work for your photos on my computer, so I vote against it.

  • justicejenniferreads says:

    Haven’t had a chance to read The Secret Lives of Bees, but I loved this post – the pictures and the bee facts (so interesting!). I too find myself feeling frightened by bees when they unexpectedly come at me like I’m intruding on their property. But still, I do appreciate the pollinating powers – it’s because of them that my flowers blossom in unexpectedly beautiful, vibrant new colors every year and my fruit trees blossom. They are amazing little creatures.

  • Interesting post and lovely photos, specially the three bees sharing a flower…. I love bees, where we are we have at least three types of bumble bees as well as honey bees. I love to find bees with knees, the pollen build up round their legs, which must make it more difficult for them to fly.

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