In South Texas it is not uncommon to hear a strange noise while you are out in the pasture. It is an ominous muffled buzzing sound with overtones of a breeze blowing through mesquite leaves. If you recognize the sound for what it is, and if you are quick enough and look up in time, you may see the cause as it passes overhead.
Not long ago we got word that a neighbor on a ranch nearby had been attacked by Africanized “killer” bees. The injuries were many but not life threatening. This kind of news is becoming more and more common. A friend was attacked a few years ago as he was driving a bulldozer, clearing brush. He managed to get to his truck, but was stung many times. Luckily he was not allergic to bee stings and got off with just a few dozen nasty red welts on his hide. Still, deaths from such attacks are reported almost every year now.
Not long ago my wife had walked down to the barn to feed our ancient horse, Festus. Festus is now 32 years old. I took pity on him about 4 or 5 years ago when my daughter and son-in-law were going to retire the old guy to a ranch in West Texas. They were just going to turn him loose to make his own way, living on grass and whatever other nourishment he could grub out of the Davis Mountains. I knew he could not survive on that kind of diet, and told Lindy and David they could leave Festus with us. Kandace and I would feed the old horse until he died of natural causes, which I figured wouldn’t be all that long. Well, obviously I was wrong, and Festus is still with us. We are quickly coming to the realization that he may be immortal.
Now where was I? Oh, yeah, Kandace at the barn. Anyway, we were going somewhere, so I drove down to the barn to pick Kandace up. As I drove around the back side of the barn I noticed something odd hanging from the branch of a huisatche bush. Closer inspection revealed it to be a swarm of bees about the size and shape of a ripe pineapple.
I drove on around and got Kandace in the truck, then drove back to the house for my camera. I shot a few photos of the bees and then destroyed them to prevent damage to Festus, the dogs, cats, or us.
This is not the first such beeswarm I have seen. During the spring of the year they are quite common across the Brush Country and I regularly hear such swarms as they fly overhead looking for new lodgings. In the past it didn’t bother me as they were basically harmless, but with the advent of the Africanized bees their noncombatant status is no longer certain. These days I try to give bee swarms and hives a wide berth.