Thursday, June 08, 2006

it all started when the doorbell rang...

I go to the door and there are lovely ladies from the Jehovah Witnesses inviting me to an event in LA this weekend the church is sponsoring.

As we are talking, one of the gals notices that we have about 4-6 bees flying into a potted plant on the porch, very near the door. She was right. I kept watching the bees go in and out and in and out of the soil.

Originally uploaded by waen ♡.

We chatted a bit longer and exchanged tracts; I took an AWAKE! magazine and they each took a "Finding Faith in Christ" pass along card. I think one of the gals might actually get the video! They left and I went to change into my best beekeeping attire.

With my long sleeve shirt and tightly bunned hair I screwed my courage and took the plant by the top leaves and removed it gently from the tiki god planter. Swoosh! Two bees cam flying out from under the soil and swirled around in the air. I couldn't believe my eyes. What the heck was it they were building? In the base of the planter, the bees had constructed a cylindrical tube from the leaves of my near by wisteria bush! It was perfectly shaped and extremely neat.

I went in side to see what kind of bees would build such a hive, or nest? I called three different pest control companies before I got anyone with interest. Kathy came on the phone. She had no idea what they were, other than from the description they weren't a wasp or yellow jacket. We had a pretty good time trying to find the answers and agreed that they were probably rouge bees that somehow got tired of hive living. "I don't want to be a worker any more. I am going on strike!" Union bees? Perhaps they were teenage bees and just hanging out and making some kind of club. Better yet, we began to observe the facts. These bees were off by themselves. They were rolling leaves..., hmmm, these bees were loadie bees! Roll ;em if you got 'em! They would just hang out until the day was over and then they would head back home to the hive. All in all I have to say I have never had such a fun business call before.

The next call was to a guy named Joe. Joe made Ben stein look as entertaining and humourous as , say Robin Williams. But in his defense, he did steer me in the right direction. He told me these were "Sand Bees" and that they normally dig into the sand, he didn't know what the deal was with the leaf tunnel. His idea was to take the entire planter, plant, bees and all into the house. "They won't like that. It will make them mad and they will will leave." Great. Mad bees in the house. I don't think so. So I put the planter, in a sunny part of the porch far from the entry. I put the unpotted plant away from that.

Into the house and begin research on the net. I eventually discovered that these are not sand bees after all, but rather Leaf Cutter Bees. Well, duh! Seems they like wisteria. They prefer roses, but those were over at the neighbors. This is a photo of one of the little designers in action. Not my photo, my gals were too fast to get a shot in. But thanks to Kim, Flickr! and web sites I have a few for you.

This is the scoop: Leaf Cutter bees are loners; they hang out by themselves. They don't socialize too much, although a couple of moms may get together to share a place for a nest. They find a soft leaf, precisely cut a round piece out of it, grab it with their feet and wallpaper the walls of a tunnel they have dug out for a nursery. They dig down into the soil first, find a nice cozy spot and then go hunting for fresh leaves. They roll the leaves along the tunnel wall and connect it very neatly with magic mom spit. Cut, roll, paste. After they get a large enough spot they tuck a babe inside and seal it up with enough food to last a year until next spring when jr. comes flying out to scare the whatoosie out of s'mee, who will have forgotten they are there by then.

Mom can place up to 60 babies in a tunnel, each with their own 'room' or cell. They pollinate better than most bees -they're famous for it actually. But they don't make much honey and they don't make wax. They rarely sting, unless they are pinched or held too tightly, and they won't defend a nest, they just fly away. "Dude, whatever." They just fly around pollinating everything in site, rolling leaves and making babies for their short 2 month lives. Maybe they are stoners??? Well perhaps not, there are no records of them heading for the nearest 7-11 for ding dongs and Fritos.

Let's see, oh yeah, they can also use dead wood, logs, rotted whatever to make these nests in as well. I got lucky, according to Dr. Margrit McIntosh from Arizona, who sent me all kinds of links. Evidently it is rare to actually see the little tube so perfectly as in my photo. Here's some more photos and info that she sent along: my favorite link , another, and this one.

So there you have it. My adventure this week with bees. Moral to the story: Next time the Jehovah Witnesses come to your door, don't get your stinger out of joint or you might miss something sweet.

add to sk*rt


chronicler said...

See, now that's something you get when you're paying attention. I still say that most of the beauty of the earth is lost to us because we're to busy being drones.

Great post and links!

Danny Haszard said...

I applaud your blog,i liked the bee story.

The core dogma of the Watchtower organization is that Jesus had his second coming 'invisibly' in the year 1914.Their entire doctrinal superstructure is built on this falsehood.

Respectfully, Danny Haszard

Jamie J said...

Very informative! I've never heard of those kind of bees, but since we live in the same area I might have to keep my eyes open. Glad they don't sting!

s'mee said...

Chronicler, lol "drones" lol, but I agree,we miss an awful lot in this rapid pace world.

Danny, Thanks for joining us. I know there are many good folks who are led astray by religions, and that is sad. I have found it best to welcome these "witnesses", and most other "missionaries" into my home and hope that through friendly conversation, we can find some common ground to begin a thoughtful discussion. I may never change their mind, but I can be Christlike in example.

Thanks for commenting.

Jamie, I am glad they don't sting either! I think your chances are pretty good. Check out the web sites and they can help you identify their nests in other places. Evedently,this kind of clear view sighting of an intact tube is rather rare.

I am totally freaked out with bugs of most kinds. I can take butterflies and lady bugs and then I draw a line! Even looking at the little green nest... as fascinating as it is, it still creeps me out a bit!

I am impressed with the construction and their engineering ability! If only I could get them to build a play yard for the Little Man... hmm.

Maren said...

I don't like bugs, bees, spiders or anything of that sort either.

We have been visited by a particular pair of Witnesses for around 4 years now. I guess they keep on coming back because we have been friendly and do invite them in on occassion. We don't agree on doctrine, but I have been really impressed with their dedication. In fact, they have visited me and looked in on me more than people from my own ward since I've been housebound with illness.

s'mee said...

Maren, I totally agree with your viewpont in regard to welcoming them in. There are some who will continue to slam the door, make rude remarks, or challenge everyone into an arguement. This accomplishes nothing except more ill will.

I hate to think of the times my children have knocked on doors, faithfully obedient to *our* church's request for service and how many rude comments, slammed doors and rejections have they had? You are so correct, the level of JW's commitment and dedication is something *any* faith could learn from.

I am glad that you have built a "relationship of trust" with those who call on you from time to time. When the Spirit is ready, they will be ready to hear because of your friendship towards them.

Maren said...

Shortly after I left this comment today, they stopped by. The timing was great. I feel the same way that you mentioned. I want people to open their doors to us and our message, that I want to be friendly with them. I guess the golden rule applies.

Lisa M. said...

I have always thought of most bees as vicous killers.



VERY informative.

I was going to leave it at that.. BUT.. humm.. my word is EPGBIQMW

Its called haloscan. *GRIN*

Valerie said...



Kim Carney said...

That is totally fascinating! did you leave them to their nest building? Will you watch them further. I wish it was in a glassed in structure so you could watch them all the time!

Alison Wonderland said...

Stoner Bees, hahaha I love it!