“Priceless Flying Cows” on a Perfect Summer Day

“This summer I am doing research with a Rutgers professor on bee behavior and in the process, I got the chance to get up and close with bees every day. I thought this experience was fascinating and wanted to share it!” -Justin Yu, EBHS Junior

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Justin Yu

A honey bee aka a “priceless flying cow” hovers in mid-flight

"Slo-Mo Bees" by Justin Yu

Justin Yu, EBHS Senior & Honey Bee Summer Research Assistant

With the sun tickling the treetops, I rumble my Honda over the cattle guard and begin my exhilarating off-road safari at a breakneck speed of 5 miles an hour over some farm plow. Windows down and jamming to my playlist is how I roll. 

That is until I reach a collection of perfectly stacked boxes, colored with the light, bubbly colors typically found in a newborn’s nursery. As the sun’s rays peek out from the neighboring Redwoods, the stacks of boxes are showered in a majestic aurora, accentuating the treasures hidden inside: honey bees.

I put on my favorite bucket hat and slowly walk forward, step by step, collecting residual morning dew on my shoes. 

First, I check on the feeders – each filled with one part sucrose to one part water with two teaspoons of pheromones. Still half full. Then, I clean the front of the hives of dead bees (aka the reject pile) – apparently worker bees drag all their fallen comrades outside of the hive entrance.

Before I know it, the fireball of the sky is directly above me, making my neck and forehead a stream of sweat. All of the morning serenity has seemingly vaporized in the blistering heat. 

Yet, I would still call it the ‘perfect summer day’.

Bees are responsible for pollinating a large percentage of the crops globally; apples, broccoli,  and avocados for example. Without bees, many of these foods would drastically decrease in supply or even cease to exist altogether.

As I work every day, I don’t think of the bees as swarms of venomous insects – instead I see myself surrounded by priceless flying cows (You can see them in the picture and video I took above!). In the end, no matter how hot the day is, it’s always fun tending to the creatures that may be helping grow the food on your dinner plate tonight!