Bomb Bees


As a diligent beekeeper, I check my hives at least once a day. Granted, some of those checks are just a quick drive-by. As much as I would love to just sit down there at the hives and study the activity, I do have other chores that has to be done. Still, my goal is to figure out which bee is playing what role – are they are guard? And undertaker? A drone? There are so many occupations within a hive, that I am truly amazed. For me, so far, the easiest one to see are the Guard bees.

Yesterday provided a break in chores that allowed me to spend a little more time observing the new hive. Thanks to the fact that I had already been semi-introduced to Cornelius and Lorraine, the two current head guard bees, I was able to spot them right off. They seemed to be holding a class of some type – there were several bees gathered around them. Curious, I eased closer to see if I could hear what was going on (and really trying to better learn the new language of Bee). After a few minutes, I figured I had better see if I could find a book on translating Bee to English, because I just couldn’t be understanding that strange conversation.

A small bee raised its wing:

“Yes, Althea?” asked Cornelius.

“Um, I am a bit confused. This class seems to be all about guarding the hive.”

Lorraine flicked her wings with a touch of aggravation. “Yes, Althea. It is. Didn’t you read the class description when you signed up?”

“Well, yes.” Althea seemed to puff her tiny body up a bit. “But I want to be a Bomb Bee when I grow up. Do I have to take this class first? I mean, A Bomb Bee gets to fly around and find left over bomb stuff. All you are telling us to do is stay put.”

(At this point, Cornelius started coughing, but it was obvious to me that she was trying to keep from laughing.)

Clearing her throat, Cornelius said, “Althea, what make you think you would be a good Bomb Bee?”

“Because of my name. Mama said it means ‘brave and strong’. And I want to do something that will make Mama proud.”

Lorraine moved in closer to Cornelius to whisper, “Yeah, well, ‘Mama’ just started running out of names, is the real problem here.”

She turned to face Althea. “The last thing I want to do is discourage you, but unfortunately, the Scouts have not seen anything even remotely resembling a bomb around here. This seems to be a peaceful place. And guard duty can be very dangerous. Just wait until you have to face down one of those curious dogs that live here!”

About that time, I noticed the ‘curious dogs’ making a beeline (no pun intended) for the hives. I quickly started up the four wheeler and headed back away from the hives. I really didn’t want Althea to get a firsthand lesson before she was ready. And besides, I wanted to try and figure out what I was missing in the translation. Bomb Bee? Huh. Seems this Farm Wife needs to go back and reread her English/Bee Translation dictionary a bit more. Surely there is no such thing…


Bee Fact:

The Los Alamos Natural Laboratory has been doing experiments since 1999, trying to determine if Bees can be used to find bomb fragments. With their highly sensitive sense of smell that can find minute particles of pollen, researchers believe that using a Pavlov type of training, bees will be able to locate trace minerals that were used in making bombs. Once the bees find it, they are trained to swarm, alerting the scientists.

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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