Me and Ms Bee

I don’t personally know anyway who gets along well with bees. The beekeeping literature (e.g., The Queen Must Die) waxes poetic about the critters, saying that they are essentially harmless if you treat them well, but most of my experiences have been on the negative side. I’m not allergic to bee stings, I guess that’s a positive.

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Once upon a motorcycle, traveling at excessive and unlawful speed along a country road, I felt a bee go into my jacket. It was hot out, I had left the jacket partway open for ventilation, and now I would pay. There was a moment of denial on both of our parts, then the bee confirmed its presence by buzzing fitfully against my chest. Now, crashing the bike is bad, so I followed these steps while the sucker was buzzing away, moving around, trying to find the perfect spot to zap me:

– Quickly (but calmly) brake to a stop, making sure that you’re not surprising anyone behind you and that you’re going straight and don’t encounter any gravel. Antilock brakes are good, you can basically just squeeze and stomp like mad until you’re nearly stopped.
– Pull to the side.
– Turn off ignition.
– Put down the kickstand.
– Make sure the kickstand is on something that will support the bike’s weight.
– Get off the bike.
– Ease the bike onto the kickstand.
– The bike is stable and not falling down?
– Take off gloves.
– START RIPPING OFF CLOTHING (ignore the passing, gawking traffic)

Bee gone? Okay. Take a little while to calm down before proceeding.

In this instance, I stopped to get fuel half an hour later. The bee had hidden in my jacket and took this opportunity to sting me.

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My wife encountered some hornets in our front garden a couple of months ago. This past weekend I ran into two nests of wasps while doing yard work (but got stung only once). Lemme tell you, they do, literally, come boiling out of the hive when you hit them with spray. I don’t think we’ll have a recurrence of one summer when I kept finding dead (and the instance that I sat on one, not so dead) bees that were falling out of a huge nest in the attic.

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