Sunday, July 1, 2012

Being alert about Honey Bee!

At my younger age, as a honey bee came near me with its buzzing sound, I withdrew back my head and shoulders fearing its stinging. But I haven't been stung by any of its species - when I remained calm without extending arm to push it away. Bees are always busy with their allotted work and ignore us unless irritated. Then my peer group alerted that when a bee stings, it leaves its stinger on the victim's skin and it dies next; to abate the harm done by this stinging one should apply slaked lime on the spot. Are these true? Yes, I find it to be true for the
Honey Bee ('Theanee' in Tamil, Apis mellifera); but not for other species!
When it is disturbed it stings with its stinger that is barbed. As human skin is thick and the stinger becomes hooked in it, the bee tries hard to withdraw its stinger back. In this it fails and the stinger is ripped out of its abdomen with guts etc. leading to its death. The stinger has venom sac with it that goes on injecting bee venom even after stinging. This produces pain and itching in the victim. If the stinger is removed instantly by any means, this suffering is reduced much. Applying slaked lime at the site is also correct: it being alkaline, neutralizes the acidic venom.

Most of the nature of this honey bee is shared by ant, termite and wasp communities (read about it in one of my blog posts -> here). This bee has some unique and wonder special characters: the queen bees are fertile; drones or males are too fertile but are haploid only; workers are sterile females. While all others have stingers males don't have it. Workers gather honey, pollen; secrete beeswax, build comb and safeguard it. When one honey bee stings, a swarm of fellow bees follow it to attack, sting further and drive the person away from the comb. This attack is made possible by the '
attack pheromone' released by the first stinging bee that alerts all the rest! They even wait on the bank to attack if the offender dives into a pond!

There are innumerable types of bees, big and small. Once I trekked up and visited the
Honey Falls ('Theanaruvi' in Tamil), the uppermost waterfalls of the Pothigai Hills. There I found giant beehives hanging down from the ledges of the high rocks. I found many bigger honey bees ('Malaitheanee' in Tamil) falling down from those hives and floating on the flowing waters. I rescued three of them on my moist towel and carried them down the hills for showing them to the people; but down the hills they had escaped! Honey and the beeswax have been used for ages in many articles. Then, I found the beeswax as a yellow substance topping on the nail heads found on the joints of school desks. Now, I find always these busy bees clinging on the sweets whenever I visit sweetmeat shop.

These wonderful honey bees enchant me then, now and forever!

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