That's gotta sting

That's gotta sting

That's gotta sting

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Nov. 13 2008 8:53 AM

That's gotta sting

Buddha in a wasp nest. Kinda.
In Rochester, Minnesota, the Buddha is laughing.

Or screaming in pain. Hard to say. That's because local Buddhists are flocking to see a wasp nest shaped like, well, Buddha. As you can see, and as usual for these sorts of things, if you squint you can kinda sorta see it looks a little bit like Buddha. Maybe. I see the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man, but that's just me.

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Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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The article is pretty funny; they talked to an entomologist (good for them!) who described the wasp nest, and the way wasps make nests, and they even went so far as to say:

The Buddha-shaped formation could actually be made of four different nests formed over the last two to four years, said Robert Jeanne, an entomology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"If you want to read miracles into that, that's your privilege, but I wouldn't be inclined to do that," he said.

But the author of the article makes a big point of how sacred bees are to Buddhists:

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Beehives appear to have a special significance in Cambodian Buddhism: Honey collecting is a common activity in Cambodia, where Buddhist temples feature honeycomb-shaped towers.

There are other quotes about bees as well. And that's all well and good, but, y'see, wasps aren't bees. They're two completely different things. Paper wasps, for example, don't even make honey. So that whole part of the article is totally ridiculous. Even the picture caption calls it a beehive.

But my favorite part is the following quote from a monk named Moeun Thun:

The Buddha wasn't trying to send a message with the nests, but the insects were trying to communicate a Buddhist message, Thun said.

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"Bees can do this kind of miracle, so humans can also do miracles," he said. "Everywhere in this world, we humans need to follow in the bees' path to make peace and serenity."

Well, given that these were not bees, but wasps, which are highly aggressive, I might disagree with the monk. Also, wasps paralyze their prey with their sting, and then plant them next to a previously-laid egg. When the larva hatches, its food is waiting for it in the form of the paralyzed -- but not dead -- prey, which then gets eaten alive.

If Thun is right, I'll never look at a Buddha statue the same way again.

Tip o' the benzocaine lotion tube cap to BABloggee John W. Weiss.