Wild Bees

Qatar’s native bee is a small jungle bee. It nests in trees and rocks and stubbornly refuses to be domesticated.

Khalid al-Suwaidi, Qatar’s top honey producer, says when he was growing up, every house in Qatar had three or four wild bees nests. Now there’s nothing like that many, but we did have one in our front porch over the summer.

It hung from a branch of a tall pot plant just outside our front door, hidden among the leaves like a large coral sponge. We heard it before we saw it, a low buzz of hundreds, maybe thousands, of busy creatures constantly moving. Collecting nectar, cleaning the comb, fanning the hive, laying eggs, feeding larvae, making honey.

We left them to their daily business and they left us to ours. They were particularly active at eight in the morning when great numbers would fly in and out collecting nectar.

      

At that time, I’d have to get into my car through the passenger door or else risk them joining us for a ride.

We did once take one bee on a road trip up to Al Khor. My 3-year-old spotted her (all bees that gather nectar are female) on the window somewhere along the Al Shamal Road. We tried so hard not to let her escape when we arrived at our destination, but she did. Bees can fly six kilometers to find nectar, but I don’t think this little one would have managed the 50 kilometers back home.

The nest grew and grew, threatening to topple our plant. We tried to prop it up and must have been a funny sight darting in and out, trying desperately not to disturb the hive. We seem to have an inbuilt fear of being attacked by a swarm, even though these bees were not the least bit aggressive.

 

Then one day, the whole colony left.

A few bees returned a day or two later to draw the last of their honey out of the comb and then they too flew away.

If you have a bee’s nest in your garden, please don’t destroy it. The bees won’t stick around for long and you may even get to like them. If you do need to remove it though, please call a professional beekeeper for the job.

Antony from Bu Saif Apiaries is a good man for this: 7027 5399

Laura Brennan

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