by Nadia M. Pappalardo, staff writer
Recently, the college’s honey bees have been found buzzing around trash and recycling units on campus. The bees have been taking sugar and high fructose corn syrup from old soda cans and other tossed food items to consume for themselves. There is not enough research yet to tell whether or not eating from the trash is harmful to the bees, but the Bee Crew–Cecile Parrish, Molly Friedland, and Todd Elliott–all feel that this is nothing to worry about.
“It’s not very good for them, but if we had no food at the time and we had to store up for the winter, we’d eat the bad lunch meat and fried food too,” says Parrish.
With fewer flowers blooming as the fall season approaches, the honey bees are forced to hunt for sugar in other areas. Honey bees store up as much honey as they possibly can before winter sweeps in.
“Honey can be equated to money,” says Elliott. “They don’t know when to stop.”
The Bee Crew is concerned about the confusion regarding the differentiation of honey bees and yellow jackets within the Wilson community. Multiple incidences of stings have recently been reported, and the blame usually goes to honey bees.
“In literature, bees are often referred to as sweetness and light,” says Friedland. “They’re really sweet.”
One difference between honey bees and yellow jackets is in their temperaments. Yellow jackets are extremely territorial and aggressive; if they feel threatened in any way, they will sting. On the other hand, honey bees are non-aggressive. Unlike yellow jackets, honey bees will die if they sting someone, so they only do so if they feel that they, their queen, or their colony is in danger.
“I had a honey bee caught in my jeans for a good part of the day,” says Friedland. “I simply opened my pants and let it out. It did not try to hurt me at all. It’s [the rumors of honey bees stinging people] giving honey bees a bad rep when they are not aggressive at all.”
Also, yellow jackets, wasps, and hornets do not survive during the winter. At this time of the year, they are particularly aggressive since they are coming to the end of their life cycle. Honey bees live throughout the year and do not carry this temperament.
When accusations of honey bees stinging members of the community are reported, it puts the Bee Crew and what they do in jeopardy. If it is believed that honey bees are being aggressive, the crew will have to re-locate the hives, and the crew itself may face some serious problems in the future. It is vital to their work that people understand the difference between a yellow jacket and a honey bee so that the Bee Crew can continue to work harmoniously with the honey bees and that the Wilson community is not threatened by these harmless creatures.