Beyond Coledale 34°17′S 150°57′E


October 27th, 2011
by Michele Elliot

A few weeks ago, I came home to find dead bees all over the steps at the front of our house.

When I took out the compost this morning, this honeycomb was lying on the ground below some gum trees. Just three cells had bees inside and I wondered if this was their handywork. It smells divine and faintly of honey.

Sometimes in my studio, I am visited by a single bee. It flies in, circumnavigates the room several times, rests on a table or bookcase or the wall and then finds its way back out. I can tell whether it has been snacking in the garden by the puffy yellow trouser-like dusting on its back legs. Watching this bee and its golden cargo always reminds me of Wolfgang Laib’s floating pollen floor clouds.

2 Responses to “Bees”

  1. 1 Mike
    October 29th, 2011 at 07:22

    The bees would have built this comb fairly quickly, in a few days; it has the colour and shape of ‘wild comb’ and is the kind made by a swarm that has exited from a hive or an established ‘feral’ colony. Established colonies, particularly those in caves, can build sheets like these that extend to a metre or more in diameter. The colony will make several of them in parallel and have an overall spherical shape. I’ve only seen photos of these; most wild colonies are made in hollow trees and so are very difficult to steal honey from, though the Australian native bee is stingless which makes the task less uncomfortable. A sting from a northern bee can be fatal to those allergic to the venom.

  2. 2 michele
    October 30th, 2011 at 12:03

    Thanks for that info, Mike. I’ve never seen any wild comb before. I’m still amazed at its exquisite structure, and wondered whether it had in fact come out of a hollow in one of the trees, it has that shape.