Well Behaved Bulgarian Bees

Bulgarian bees are very different over here as I found out yesterday as the grape harvest was gathered form the garden.

It was that time of year when the grapes, after the weather and starlings have had their share, were to be gathered and turned into the wine and rakia that makes up one of the the most renown traditions of Bulgaria. It was quite a fear that came over me as the grapes were approached, this was based on my previous experiences of bees and wasps 2000 miles away. Many a brave soul would run from British bees and wasps, they always had an attitude over there and something that lay in the mind every time one was seen in Bulgaria.

The humming bees became quite deafening to the ear as the hanging grapes were to be tackled. It was clear that part of the harvest was currently being shared by another winged species of thieves. They initially piece the skin of the grape and make their way into the sweet grape juice within. After which they buzz back to their hives and deposit the sweet content which turns out in jars in the Yambol market a few weeks later. I should have a stake in this honey made from my grapes as a good 10% of the crop had been impeached and taken away for profit to be made on it by someone else.

So a fear of getting hut by these bees was a contention that I was forced to subject myself to. I could wait until dusk and the bees go back in their hives to sleep but then it gets dark very quickly and this job was to take a couple of hours that wasn't an option. It had to be done now, no time early in the morning either.

Gingerly the hand went into bunches of grapes with bees hiding their feast within individual grapes, the buzzing more intense as I mingled further into the crop. After a few disturbances I found that the bees would realize that there was something going on and just let themselves drop off and fly away. At no point did any bee become aggressive, even it I accidentally touched one when reaching up they would still not turn against me.

It got to the stage where a system of gently tapping the stem from which the grapes hung prior to cutting would in fact clear that area of bees. It was a warning that the party was over and their food supply was now at an end. If I could speak bee I would swear they were thanking me and and saying goodbye see you next year.

Two hours of grape harvesting in an atmosphere not quite reaching swarm status but quite close to it in stages and not once did any bee act aggressively, furthermore no stings inflicted. What a nice kind bunch of bees Bulgaria has and what a difference from the nasty aggressive nature I had grown up endured in the UK.

A funny thought to end with but now with the grape harvest in all I have for the first time in nearly 40 years having learned again about the birds and the bees, this time without embarrassment.

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