Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A tragic Aussie bee story

I just returned from Australia and had two encounters with Aussie bees.
My brother has a nectarine tree in his back yard (garden as the Brits & Aussie call them) that was in full bloom. I noticed a bee one morning and began to look much closer. The tree was covered with small bees, similar to what I am used to but seemed to be a little different. Even tho I pleaded they would not hold still long enough for me to get a really good picture for I D purposes.
Later I found out that someone on the next street over was selling honey so I suspect that is where the bees were coming from. We were leaving the next day so i did not get to go ask and look and all those things I was dying to do. Oh well.....
Then- we went up to Coonabarabran which is in north central New South Wales  -- Oh, we were originally in Broken Hill which is the furthest west you can go in NSW, almost in the center of the country and it is semi-arid except for this year. (More on that later)
Whilst driving one day well out of the town we came across a row of bee hives that stretched on the raised shoulder  for  ?? 50 + yards or metres. They had obviously been off loaded on the shoulder in a hurried manner as the stacks were not arranged and some hives were cracked and the whole scene spoke of disorder. There was a fork lift still sitting there and a semi-truck under a tree facing well away from the highway.
I went across to them to get close pictures and see what I could see as this looked tragic to me.
The bees were quite angry and didn't want to be bothered. You could hear their buzzing from across the road but I went anyway.
I didn't get a picture of an individual as very few landed on the boxes but I did get the "swam" in the air. The bees took exception to having their picture made and chased me back across the road. That distance would have been over 100' which surprised me that they would go that far. Then they attacked the car and tried to get at the people they could see through the windows. It was an Alfred Hitchcock moment.  My sis-in-law left as quickly as she could get the car in gear after I slammed the door.
The next day we went back to see what happened. The truck and all the hive bodies were there but the fork lift was gone. The ground outside the hive bodies was covered in dead bees. Then I remembered seeing a police car going in that direction the day before as we were going back into town.
My guess is that someone declared the bees a hazard and sprayed them. The worst part of that is that my brother/sis-in-law own 70+ acres outside of town well away from everything and would have welcomed keeping the hives there. There was just no way to communicate that.
There is a weekly newspaper in that town and they took my story. It was supposed to have been in last week's edition and emailed to me.
I haven't received it yet.
Thought you might find this interesting as Aussie bees were being imported here not too long ago. I am going to write the paper to see if I can get any information, but they were not overwhelmed with curiosity. Sometimes Aussies are like that; very British and very set in "we've never done it that way before."
Oh well........................

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