A TASTE OF HONEY: SPRING BEES ON ABACO
There are a number of insects on Abaco that demand human attention. The smallest and most persistent nuisances are the ‘no-see-ums’, tiny sandflies whose near-invisible size belies the effects of their bite. They seem impervious to many standard types of insect repellent. Different things work for different people. My method is to eat marmite (cf vegemite) on plain biscuits daily for 2 weeks before a visit to Abaco, and that does the trick. This year, I had a single bite (of course, if you hate marmite you’ll need another plan). See RECOMMENDED LINKS in the SIDEBAR under SAND FLY for more on this topic.
There’s a form of yellowish horsefly that can give you a bit of a nip. At the top end of the pain and discomfort scale is the PEPSIS WASP (Tarantula Hawk). I’ve only ever seen one, and if you do come across one be sure not to disrespect it (click link to see why…).
Until recently, I can’t say I’d ever noticed bees on Abaco. There are plenty of wonderful flowers that are visited for their nectar by the many species of butterfly and various kinds of bird (hummingbirds, bananaquits). Then, last month, I heard a distinct buzzing in a bush. Bees. Lots of them. I took a few photos, some of which are shown below. Then I began to notice them elsewhere. Everywhere. Compared to the european bees that I am familiar with (check out my BEE GALLERY), Abaco bees are much smaller – see how they look on the individual flower heads in the first few photos. These little creatures were constantly on the move. No sooner had one settled on a flower, than it moved on to the next one…
I kept an eye out for bumble bees, but saw none – indeed, I’m not certain there are any bumble species in the (northern) Bahamas, and I have found no references to their existence. Enlightenment on this topic welcome via the comment box.
There was plenty of pollen for the bees, though not all of it went into their what’s-the-correct-word-for-their-pouches (EST the Beekeper please can you help here?)However most were managing to harvest impressive quantities to take back to the hive. It’s worth saying that these are all wild bees. I know of only one honey-producer in South Abaco (south of Marsh Harbour). A successful foraging expedition… somewhat surprisingly this bee was still able to take off…This is my favourite photo: there’s something about the expression on that little face that says “Ooooo. More good stuff in this one….”
Wild bees find a novel use for a woodpecker nesting box