Beware Fallen Termite Nests
While we were on our guided jungle walk in the Community Baboon Sanctuary at Bermudian Landing, Sue and the guide walked past a large termite nest that had fallen off a tree trunk and was lying in the middle of the trail. Being an inquisitive sort, I stopped to have a closer look at it and could see that it was partially broken open and that there were scores of black insects moving around. I did not think too much of it at first knowing that termites are harmless, until these things started to fly and land on me. It was then that the guide turned around and said "BEEs - everyone run for it!" He and Sue had to make a running retreat past the nest on the narrow trail while I swatted away at the 15-20 odd bees that had landed on various parts of my bare skin (it was handy that we had bought a palm frond swatter off him for a souvenir at the start of our tour)! I was wondering why these small black bees did not seem to be inflicting much pain on me (in fact, nothing more than an annoyance). It turns out that there is such a thing as a stingless variety of bee!
Historical records show that variety of stingless bees have been native to Belize for thousands of years, thanks to the cultivation efforts of the lowland Maya. In addition to providing honey, the bees were also used in religious ceremonies. Although they are sting-less, it is said that the bees can inflict a nasty bite, although I did not suffer any ill effects or pain. There are many species of stingless bees in tropical America (and other places in the world) where they nest in hollow tree trunks, holes in the ground or abandoned nests (I can confirm that one!).
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