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Beekeeping, Bumblebees, Drones, Honey, Latin Literature, Queens, Virgil

Ok, I have heard of bees in trees and tree bees. But mountain climbing bees?

I think there is a bee somewhere in here…. By Karen Green (bees) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Corripuere viam interea, qua semita monstrat.
Iamque ascendebant collem, qui plurimus urbi
imminet, adversasque adspectat desuper arces.               
Miratur molem Aeneas, magalia quondam,
miratur portas strepitumque et strata viarum…

Qualis apes aestate nova per florea rura               
exercet sub sole labor, cum gentis adultos
educunt fetus, aut cum liquentia mella
stipant et dulci distendunt nectare cellas,
aut onera accipiunt venientum, aut agmine facto
ignavom fucos pecus a praesepibus arcent:
fervet opus, redolentque thymo fragrantia mella.  

from Virgil’s Aeneid, Bk 1 418-422, 430-436
The Latin Library http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/vergil/aen1.shtml

Ok, so Aeneas does not see bees on the mountain, but looking down from a summit does remind him of bees.

But he could as easily have seen bees or bumblebees at least, because apparently they are common in the mountains. Scientists are just discovering now how this is possible, given “reduced air density and oxygen:”

Dillon and his team of researchers found that the bees they collected could fly at air pressure equivalents exceeding 24,275 feet (7,400 meters) above sea level, equivalent to some of the lower peaks in Nepal’s Annapurna mountain range. Two bumblebees were able to fly at more than 29,525 feet (9,000 meters)—higher than Mount Everest.

Appalachian Mountain Bumblebee. OK, it’s not Everest, but I’m still impressed. By Steve Evans from Citizen of the World (Appalachian Bumble Bee Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

This surprised the scientists, especially (and I love this image):

‘As humans, we’re cold, we’re having trouble breathing, and we’re having to run around with nets to catch these bees that are zipping around as if it was nothing,’ Dillon said, recounting the experience.

It’s not the case that the bumbles wings beat faster, but that they make a wider arc through the air. The bumbles that could fly the highest were the most muscular–the body builders of the bee world.

For more, see this National Geographic report  , and this Smithsonian report has some groovy graphics of bees in hypobaric chambers to replicate air pressure.

I tot I saw a bee

Mon 17 Feb: opened both hives briefly just to make sure there is a writhing ball of bodies. Yes to both….

20 Feb warm day and the bees have emerged! Even pollen collection going on…
Of course, that night a frost and much colder temperatures. It will be a wonder if they survive….

Sat and Sun and Monday:  Bees in both hives out. And in a mellow mood as it happens. I was standing beside one hive and a couple landed on me, just curious and taking a rest. It really was a treat to see one that close, just nosing around.

Of course, this is a bit of a double-edged sword. Because if the good weather continues and if we have a good March as we have had the last couple of years, they will have kicked it up a notch and probably get swarmy. We are considering turning one of our nukes into a swarm catcher. Any other swarm deterrent measures are pretty difficult for us as our queens are not marked. Both queens are not even a year old, so I’m hoping they might stick around and not harass the neighbourhood….

Aeneid translation

Meanwhile they’ve tackled the route the path revealed.
And soon they climbed the hill that looms high over the city,
and looks down from above on the towers that face it.
Aeneas marvels at the mass of buildings, once huts,
marvels at the gates, the noise, the paved roads….

Just as bees in early summer carry out their tasks
among the flowery fields, in the sun, when they lead out
the adolescent young of their race, or cram the cells
with liquid honey, and swell them with sweet nectar,
or receive the incoming burdens, or forming lines
drive the lazy herd of drones from their hives:
the work glows, and the fragrant honey’s sweet with thyme.

from Poetry in Translation  http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/VirgilAeneidI.htm#_Toc535054299




6 thoughts on “Ok, I have heard of bees in trees and tree bees. But mountain climbing bees?

  1. Bees at over 29,000 feet? Wow!
    Yes we are coming into swarm season. Last year I got 4 swarms from my own hives (two hives) I wonder what this year will bring. I was checking out my log hive today. Standing by it, I could smell that honey smell coming out of the entrance. I looked into the back observation window to see comb still full of honey. That’s not too surprising though because they were busy robbing my 2nd log hive when it bit the dust in December. I gave a sample of 10 bees to the club to find out if I had Nosema Ceranea. “Loaded” was the answer. So if my log hive bees are robbing honey from that failed hive that’s ‘loaded with highly contagious nosema,’ they will be exposed…and yet they are flying very well. Time will tell I guess.
    Why do you know so much Latin? I took two years of it, my wife took four years, but wouldn’t be able to translate that much. It’s good for root words and all that, but I’m curious about your Latin experience. Are you a teacher?

    Posted by solarbeez | February 26, 2014, 4:31 am
  2. I rather like the image of “flowery fields”

    Posted by philipstrange | February 27, 2014, 2:42 pm
  3. Thanks for posting, I enjoyed reading about that.

    Posted by Emma Sarah Tennant | March 5, 2014, 7:34 pm

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