We had the most bee sightings yet today. Sweat bees, Carpenter bees, Honey bees, and Stingless bees. Carpenter bee was spotted during noon near muddy water on the Maya Trail. Its behavior was interesting in that it did not seem to be pollinating bees but was sensing around the dirt where it was moist but not covered in water. Its large size and distinct, loud buzzing sound cannot be mistaken.
Unfortunately, this species of Carpenter bee was not included in my taxon id card, which only had one Carpenter bee species. Pictures will have to suffice for now. The Honey bee and Stingless bees were the only ones observed pollinating and feeding from flowers. During an off-trail hike, there was a 6 feet tall flowering tree that was surrounded by Honey and Stingless bees.
Although others were super afraid, turning around asking me to check if a bee was on them, I could only zoom in with my body and camera to get the best possible picture of the Honey bee. However, the most involved encounters we had today with bees were with the Sweat bees who liked to land on human body for salt consumption. While entering an off-trail path, could hear students and a professor scream out that they had bees on them.
As a bee specialist of the group, I really had no fears. Because I had known that around the region were these small (2-3 inches) ant-hill-looking structures on the ground were evidence of bee burrowing, I knew that they were surrounded by Sweat bees and not killer bees (the Africanized Wester Honey bee being the killer bee of this region). If they were indeed killer bees that landed on my fellow tropical field biologists, it was likely that they would have stung them and I would have heard painful screams – we are not a quiet crowd, as the later boa constrictor incident shows.
These are not very social bees, although they live in small communities that are mostly made up of a single family. Most mounds house fewer than 10 bees, compared to the tens of thousands of bees some beehives contain.
Other cool animal encounters had to do with a boa constrictor, a super large (15ft+) leaf-cutter ant hill, and unidentified nymphs that Claire decided to bring back to the station to ask others, including the locals here, and no one could tell us what it was.