Saturday, May 28, 2005

Bee in the Street Interview

bees at entryBeing with the bees is a sensory treat, and photos alone just don't do it. It is a challenge to convey to you how it feels to work with them, a set of sensations that may explain the extreme enthusiasm noted by some of our friends.

For one thing, they are very interesting to watch, but they move around so quickly that our collection has many blurry images of really cool stuff that we just did not catch in time. Bees grooming each other, the queen dashing around, workers sipping sugar syrup in the feeder with their tongues sticking out. The photos do help some with that, though.

For another, it smells good inside a hive. One of the reason I bailed out of wearing gloves so soon (other than a desire to keep extra bees from getting squashed) is that the smell of beeswax and propolis ("bee glue") clings to my hands for many hours after. The camera buttons got covered in the light yellow propolis when I worked the frames this time, and the aroma is still right here on my desk with me.

Finally, there is the sound, and it changes as you work. Approaching the busier colony, I can hear them buzzing from a distance now, low and even. When you puff smoke at a group of them, there is a concerted, bee-like "whoa" wave of a buzz.

Now, I cannot give you a scratch and sniff web page, or a taste of honey, but we have been working on the sound thing.

the real buzzThe following sound clip comes from a 15-year-old Sony dictation recorder that we stuck in the entrance to Colony 2. (Ah, the residue of corporate life!) My husband found a way to plug the earpiece jack into his hi-res sound capture card, and rendered it for me. It's a 2.8 MB mp3, so feel free to download it to your iPod. You need to play it at a fairly decent volume, because there are lots of things going on at various levels. The main voice you will hear is a guard bee who crawled all over the mike, issuing stern opinions about interlopers. After she finishes guard duty, she will become a field bee and spend more time with flowers than nosy humans.

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