Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Today we needed to check on the bees. We had recently received 10 new colonies just two days before one of the biggest storms in decades blew through. We needed to see how they were adjusting to their new homes, but also to see how they fared in the recent mega-storm.
Since we have them in three different locations, off we went to the first.
Location one had four hives. Three out of the four were just not happy campers. They were doing their best to get us to vacate the area. It turns out that during the storm one of the lids blew off of one and boy, you could tell that something had really made them MAD. The minute the top came off the others they were dive bombing me. Usually you can just move slowly and calmly and the bees aren’t bothered. But these girls were so irritated that some of them should have been flattened against my beekeepers veil like bugs on a windshield with the force they were throwing themselves at me.
Location two was much the same. The minute the first top came off, the bees were just unhappy. It can be a very intimidating sight when you pop the lid and hundreds of bees on the top layer of that hive are looking at you and crouching in a pre-flight check! This time they were so unhappy that they didn’t stop at throwing themselves at me. I could feel them stinging me through my jeans. Right through! That was a first.
The jeans that I threw on that day were not mine, but an old pair of my husband’s. As happens in really old pairs of jeans (that SHOULD have been thrown out) there was a small hole in the zipper area that I did not know was there. When these mad bees were acting like a whole squadron of diver bomber airplanes attacking and throwing themselves at my person, hitting and bouncing off, it turns out that one of them found that small hole in my jeans. Much to my surprise, I got a very distinct and painful pinch right IN my pants on the inside of my leg!
If you do not know anything about bees, I will fill you in on one bee fact: once one bee stings, it sends out a pheromone that tells all the other bees exactly WHERE to sting too. So they all join the first bee and attack that spot, ready to sting instead of divebomb. And it seems that all those bees got the signal at the very same moment.
So in a very small window of time, I had one bee inside my pants that had already stung me, I could feel at least two more in there crawling, and a whole cloud trying to get in there too!
These pants that I grabbed off the closet shelf were large on me, thankfully. I was able to grab the jeans to close off the bee’s access and I hightailed it across the field to get away from these mad bees, looking like a 3 year-old little boy trying to get to a potty in a hurry. If a video camera had been filming, you would have seen a crazy person in a white beekeeping veil and jacket on top, holding her crotch and running across a meadow with a big black cloud of bees chasing her and diving bombing her groin. I would have won money on America’s Funniest Videos, surely.
Once I got far enough away from the hive, the bees finally left me alone and headed back to their hive, satisfied that they had done their job to the fullest. Thank goodness we live out in the country with no nearby neighbors, because when the bees finally gave up the chase and as soon as I could, I dropped my jeans right there in field to shoo the rest of the bees out of my pants! It’s a good thing we had no bull in that field, as my red underwear could have caused an even bigger problem than I already had!
Now here is another thing that people getting ready to go into keeping bee hives need to know: the smell bees give off when they are ready to sting is coconut. And I had just started using a new wonderful coconut shampoo and conditioner! That explains (days later, after all the stings and in a moment of clarity) why the bees loved dive-bombing me and left my husband, who was standing near me, alone!
I did not make it to the third set of beehives that day.
In the end, it turns out I only got three bee stings on my inner thighs, five on the front of my thighs, and one on my thumb. Whew! It could have been a lot worse. But I’ll tell you, I might wait a full week after a massive storm blows through next time, hoping that the bees will have had a chance to settle down. I will sure make sure that I am not using a coconut shampoo or conditioner, as it would be the same as strapping chum to myself and jumping into a shark tank. And I’ll find jeans without a hole in the crotch.