I was picturing the dimensions of a Langstroth hive scaled to accommodate the gigantic Apis dorsata. I somehow imagined that because Ad is a almost twice the size of Apis mellifera that its behavior would be more obvious. The dances and buzzes that communicate the most efficient food source pathways to the rest of the hive became intricate entanglements of sound and movement. I could imagine the bees dancing through abstract thoughts and poetry, but this was just because of the residual these activities left in my brain; I'm sure the sexless female worker bees just chat about how best to serve dinner to their hoards of hungry maggots.
Bees achieve an enhanced communal efficiency not by supporting the efforts of each individual until the average activity enjoys a higher rate of successes, but by suffering the incompetence of so many of their number through the accidental successes of a few. A worker bee can only live around twelve weeks, but over half of them will live less than half that span. The enormous die-off is hidden behind the phenomenal fertility of their queen. Could the bees survive if they were cognizant of the mortality constantly eliminating more of their identical twins than they could ever possibly have the opportunity to meet?
What would the Langstroth-organized buzzing of A dorsata tell us. Would they pine for the grayanotoxin-festooned wild hives of Nepal? Would they divulge the secrets to a happy short life despite the presence of so many depressive triggers? Would they spawn buzz-cults who would mimic their songs till oral paresthesia left them drooling through slurred platitudes?
The most successful flying hymenoptera are the parasitic wasps. Because of solitary periods in their life they must effectively carry out critical tasks or die. Some of my favorite parasitic wasps are the tarantula hawks of the genus Pepsis. Even larger than A. dorsata the Pepsis wasps speak directly to the human psyche with their buzzing. They say: “I carry pain – give me room!”. I have a Pepsis wasp mounted on ornately decorated mat-board sitting on one of the shelves in my living room.
|Pepsis under glass|
Sometimes called solitary wasps the Pepsis meet at prearranged bushes for orgies of reproductive element exchange. It was at such a bush that I bagged the specimen mounted in the photo. The bush was alive with the crawling and buzzing jet black wasps. I know quite a few people who would have –if the skittering forms were spiders- fainted at the sight.
Once they mate the female Pepsis wasps fly off to find one of the most arachnophobia-inspiring of the spiders: the tarantula. The tarantula with its barbed hairs, spinnerets and poison fangs is just breakfast for the Pepsis maggots.
They are fairly bad-ass those Pepsis wasps.