The birds and the bees
By Margaret Sloan, Sunset production coordinator
Last Wednesday afternoon the bees were agitated as all get out. There was a big cloud of them hovering around the back hive. A few of them bonked us in warning, bee talk for “get away or we’ll fill you full of holes”.
Just then three big blue Steller’s jays started screeching at us. We had interrupted them in the middle of a little bee feast. (Above is a photo of a Steller’s jay by Kimberley Burch, our Team Bee leader and imaging specialist. I’m sure she looks at jays differently after finding them eating our bees.)
A few days later I watched a scrub jay fly through the stream of forager bees as they left the hive. The bird gobbled bees on the wing.
I’m a pretty good shot; a well hurled stick scared Mr. Jay away from that little dinner on the go, but I’m sure I saw the bird grin slyly as it flew away. And now there’s a little black phoebe lunching at the Sunset hives.
We can put Vaseline barriers to keep the ants out of the hive, but now there’s a new question: How do you protect a flying bee?