Monday, August 22, 2011


So lately here in Brittany, we've been dealing with an infestation of what everyone here calls la guêpe.  I had seen these same things back in the US, but I fear anything that buzzes and flies in my general direction, so my logical solution is to hide behind my partner.  He kills it, and we're fine.  So I had worked out in my head that these were what we calle honeybees.

Now, in my mind, there are two real groups: bees and wasps.  Among the bees, the smallest we called sweat bees, because they were attracted to sweat and would land on the back of your knees and in the crook of your elbows.  Then you would move and they would sting the crap out of you.  After that, were honeybees.  These little buggers would hide in clover and sting the crap out of you when you walked on them.  The next size up were hornets. After that, came bumblebees.  Among them, were yellow jackets and blue jackets.  The second group were wasps.  I never knew any name for them other than wasps.  They might be black, brown, purple and yellow; I hate them all.

So I decided that I needed to get my head about all the different names I had heard for these things, so I started by looking up the word guêpe. It was not a honeybee in the French mind, in fact.  They were calling honeybees wasps.  There was no such thing as a honeybee,  I am still not sure what a frelon is.  Bumblebees though, are called bourdon.  They're almost identical as to the ones in the US, but they're darker in color.  There also only seems to be one kind.  Big and scary.  Also, what I always called wasps apparently don't exist here.  Did I mention how happy I am about that, because I hate wasps, ever so much.

Most commonly in France, you run into honeybees, or at least what I call honeybees.  I had always heard that we actually never had honeybees in the US until they were imported from Europe with flowers or by bee keepers.  In fact, I believe that's the reason they're called honeybees.  Obviously some were bound to escape from the beekeepers and made it into the wild.  So as I understood it, that's why we had honeybees in the US.

Looking up these pictures though, I was apparently wrong in how I differentiated.  Apparently what we always called wasps were actually mud daubers.  It's a type of wasp, but apparently what we always called hornets are actually wasps too.  Apparently French people don't worry about killer bees coming up from Africa.  I always remember hearing about the killer bee menace from South America and how they were already in the South and it was only a matter of time before they made it up to Ohio.  So, anxious child that I was, I assumed that I was going to die in a killer bee attack.  Highly logical, I know.  Step on one honeybee one time in your life, I was 5, and this is what happens.

So time marches on, I still hate bees, and someday, I will win the war against them.


  1. OMG I remember sometime back in the 80's the news was flooded with warnings of killer bees from africa...I was scared to death, honestly the thought of them was probably worse than the actual ;)

    btw;love the new profile pic :)

  2. Haha, I think it was hard not to be susceptible to it at the time. It seems like it was some sort of huge thing.

    Also, that pic is about a month old. My hair's grown out since then, and I'll be getting it very very short when I go at the end of the month. Like military short. I hate having long hair in the summer.

  3. I just wanted to say 'bonjour' from Seduced by the New...

  4. Bonjour on my end for you as well!

  5. Haven't been here in a while. Got lotsa catch up up do! Been stung once by a bee I'd walked over. OUCH! Been stung twice by what we call a guêpe over here but looks more like what you called hornets. re-OUCH and AÏE-AÏE-AÏE!
    What you call wasp (dauber) we call it "mouche-à-merde"! Don't ask me why!!! :)
    I still enjoy going to beekeepers and take part in "harvesting" the honey! I like bees! I like honey! ;)

  6. Considering how the nest of daubers look, I can understand the nomenclature. It's great to have you back. Hope everything's going well for you!