I see the last time I posted was April 21st. Since then I have become a married lady named Emily Scott and met the wildlife of Borneo. And in Beeland… the bees have been equally busy.
The day of my wedding, May 10th, had sunny spots but was often overcast and drizzly. I said to Emma, who was one of my bridesmaids, “Well, at least we haven’t missed a good day’s beekeeping.” Little did we know what our bees were plotting! You can read what their plans were in Emma’s post ‘Bees or honey?‘. Long story short, Jonesy and Thomas found queen cells in Chili and Chamomile’s hives and did splits to stop them swarming, turning three colonies into five. A wedding present from the bees!
Our photographer did attempt to take some photos of us outside at one point, but rain sent us hurrying back in! Doesn’t Drew look good in his kilt?
But you don’t read this blog for wedding photos, you want to read about bees. Well, I did see some bees on honeymoon in Borneo.
Please excuse the bad photo, which was taken from a canopy walkway with an iPhone. See the curve hanging from under the lowest branch on the right? It’s an Apis dorsata honeybee comb. I could just about make out the bees by their movements – they were covering the whole comb and their wings seemed to shimmer in waves.
Information on the bees: “This tree in front of you is a 40m tall mengaris (Koompassia excelsa). For a mengaris, it is quite short. Some individuals have been measured at 86m tall, making it one of the tallest tropical tree species! Perhaps mengaris trees are best known as the home of the world’s largest honey bee, the Asian rock bee (Apis dorsata). Their hives are up to 6 feet across and may contain as many as 30,000 bees. One mengaris tree may contain more than 100 nests!”
Can you see the bumps up the side of the tree? Our guide Mike said these were caused by people hammering in bamboo footholds to climb up and steal the honey. They must have been brave as that tall smooth trunk is not made for climbing – it’s a long way down. Indeed, I read online that the bees choose the tree as their home because its smooth bark is tough for predators like the sun bear to climb.
During our travels we did see another of these trees which was covered with combs. It was far away, but Drew got a good photo of it:
Although the combs are easy to spot, individual bees proved hard to come across. The rainforest in Danum Valley had few flowers near the forest floor – I suspect most of the flowers must be higher up near the canopy. We saw plenty of butterflies floating around, but no bees.
So I was very happy to come across this bee whilst staying at Myne Resort, which is located along the Kinabatangan River by the village of Bilit. We went for river cruises to spot the monkeys, birds, orang-utans and monitor lizards that live along the river bank, but one of my favourite creatures spotted was this carpenter bee. Its wings shimmered with blue and green colours. I suspect this piece of wood was its territory, as every so often it would take off and do a short circuit of the surrounding flowers before returning to rest on the wood.
If anyone can identify the bee beyond it being a carpenter bee that would be much appreciated! Drew got some fantastic photos of the Bornean wildlife so a separate post showing off his animal photos may follow.
I feel like including a couple more wedding photos, as I can say they’re bee themed. Our wedding cake! Gorgeously decorated by Michelle at Maya Cakes – http://mayacakes.co.uk. I asked her if she could include little bees somehow and she made it so with marzipan and almonds for the wings. Everyone commented on how tasty it was too.