As I pried open a box of bees to install into a hive, I hesitated. I tried to recall the last time I was stung. Maybe thirty years ago? I don't remember the episode clearly, but I know it was fully unpleasant. Yet, I was certain it was nowhere near the pain I'd endure if something went awry now, as 10,000 bees swarmed in front of me.
Although I was a newbee keeper and carefully coached through the ordeal
by an experienced keeper, Christian Kuhl, I was outfitted like a pro.
Thanks to another local reader, John Curtis, I was covered by a slightly
snug bee-keeper suit (the diet resumes next week) and a helmet with
face netting. It was a fabulous look. I resembled a Star Wars
Stormtrooper--only minus that stoic courage.
Were these the drones I was looking for? I flinched and blinked twice. No, apparently, I was only looking for trouble.
But between the suit, a bit of smoke (sadly, not THAT kind of smoke),
and some sugar water sprayed on the bees to help render many of them
temporarily flightless, I managed my task successfully. After forty-five
minutes, I escaped with only one--nearly painless--sting on my ankle (I
failed to wear socks), which I didn't even notice until I left. And my
EpiPen proved unnecessary.
The experience was so fool-proof,
it almost felt like cheating. I vowed that next time, like Christian,
I'd bravely attempt this with no protective suit or gloves. My friend
Marion, who'd once been stung by a swarm of bees and trembled this
afternoon as she took photos from about fifty yards away, made no such
My biggest disappointments were accidentally smashing
one bee and learning that all these little creatures--my tiny new
friends--would die in about five weeks. *sigh* Such is the sorry cycle
of life for a busy bee.
I gained a whole new understanding of
and appreciation for bees. As I pulled off my bee suit and climbed into
my car--holy hell, did I breathe out a huge sigh of relief.
And, it appeared I was more a Jedi than a Stormtrooper.
Because---although it had failed me through so many of my 52/52
ventures--on this particular day, the Force was strong with me.
To bee or not to bee? When's the last time you faced one--or 10,000--of your fears? What's the buzz; tell me what's a happening?