I Never Imagined I Would Appreciate a Bee Sting or, Thank You For Sacrificing Your Life For An Actual Cause

Posted on October 8, 2012


Saturday night we traveled again to Sarasota to pick up our humming thrumming hive of honey bees. Because it has not been extracted this fall, the hive was very heavy and I opted to do the cheap thing and let the men do the heavy lifting. One of the men is even allergic to bees, but that didn’t end up mattering since I was the only one who came away with a sting.

It was a little ironic that I got stung since I was the farthest from the hive, I wasn’t moving the hive, and generally I should have been viewed as much less of a threat to the bees than the men wearing bright colors bumping their homebase around.

Since I read The Beekeeper’s Lament, the book that probably got me solidly on board with the idea of beekeeping, it makes me a little sad to think about the fact that honey bees die when they sting you. Wasps and yellow jacket stings hurt worse, and on top of that they have the unfair advantage of being able to sting you multiple times, but bee stings hurt, and I think they very well should since they die afterward.

My leg is pretty swollen where I was stung, so it’s definitely a pretty strong reaction, but I think I was a food and smacked the stinger further into my leg when I instinctively grabbed my leg where it hurt, since the last 2 times I was stung by anything was when something had flown into my clothing and gotten stuck and freaked out. The bee wasn’t stuck in my overalls, but probably was just mad that it couldn’t find its way back home and as I was walking through the tall grass in the orchard it decided I was the culprit – which I was, even though I didn’t have my hands on the hive.

Let me tell you what – driving home a hive full of thousands of bees, especially after one has had their way with you, is an experience. Even more so when shortly after getting on the highway, there begins such a torrential downpour that we had to actually pull over for a few minutes since it was impairing the visibility on the road so much. Hubs and the Roomie were dolls about transporting that angry hive, especially since the Roomie is actually allergic to bees: “My throat only swells up a little,” he says.

We are still going to have to figure a few things out, like if I’ll ever be able to harvest the few things that are only a couple of feet away from the active hive like the squash, green onions, and horseradish root, and how to best create a screen to keep the bees from flying directly into the garden or the neighbors yards so as to avoid the occasional stings as much as possible. We are counting on the overgrowth on the fence and the neighbors shed to provide good cover, and the plan is to acquire a few more cheapy bamboo screens like the one we posted up behind the hive to block its view from the street to help provide the bees with a guide to go up and out, instead of just out into the yard where we’ll be working.

In other farm news – Whitman had another litter of buns, but this time we knew they were coming (though they came earlier than I had figured) and we were prepared…or at least more prepared than last time. As of yesterday morning, she had 7 squirmy little white blobs of cuteness. She seemed to be more than happy that I moved her quickly made fur nest into a nesting box with some bedding along with her troop of babes.

We are growing, buzzing, learning, and loving it all. Busy as ever. Busy with bees.

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