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
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.
– Maura White grew up on the Pacific Coast in a sleepy beach town and
has lived all over the country, as well as in Asia. What a change it
was for her to move to the country and she uses humor to help her make the adjustment. She and her
husband are working to make their farm, Double Star Bar Farms, a
successful family farm. She keeps busy with her stained glass business,
which you can check out at www.southernstainedglass.com. You can read more of her stories at whitem4.wordpress.com. She keeps saying “You can take the girl away from
the ocean, but you can’t take the ocean out of the girl!” Copyright © 2011, Maura White. All rights reserved.