The Jumbo Rocks Campground at Joshua Tree National Park is closed, but not due to any COVID-19 concerns. Rather, it’s “aggressive honey bee activity” that’s keeping would-be visitors at bay. The campground and its 124 campsites will remain closed through July 23.
Joshua Tree Superintendent David Smith told the L.A. Times that while the bees didn’t sting anyone, there were several in vehicles and around campsites.
“Visitors were very uncomfortable,” he said.
Smith said the bees are likely looking for water, which they might find on picnic tables or the condensers in car air conditioners. With campers gone, the bees will continue their quest somewhere else.
Bees may make people uncomfortable, but they do live in the California desert and are an important part of the ecosystem. If you’re especially curious about bees in Joshua Tree National Park, you can read this report, which focuses on digger bees. This particular species is found all over the world, but they’re especially prevalent in arid areas like Joshua Tree. They’re not honey bees, though they also forage for nectar and pollen.
Through September, Joshua Tree campsites including Belle, Black Rock, Cottonwood, Hidden Valley, Indian Cove, Sheep Pass and White Tank will remain open. Most are functioning at a first-come, first-served basis, but group sites require a reservation. Due to COVID-19, group reservations are limited to 25 people.
On top of the whole bee thing, it’s also going to be very hot this weekend and COVID-19 cases are still climbing. So really, it’s not the best time to go camping all around. You can check out the National Park Service’s “Find Your Virtual Park” page for ways to explore the great outdoors from the bee-free safety of your home.