A sting in winter
The pain began slowly but rose to a searing crescendo. The heat was furious, like someone holding a flame to my thumb. I knew what it was of course. I’d felt it a hundred times before.
It was cold outside—mid 20s with a light dusting of snow. I had decided to slip some hard candy into each of the hives because it was too cold to move frames around. I was wearing a heavy jacket and a pair of winter gloves with elastic around the wrists.
The job went quickly and only two or three bees escaped to die in the snow. I was finished and walking toward home when the pain hit.
Now, here’s the problem. I come from a family of researchers, doctors, and dentists—all of whom taught me that science can supply the answers to nearly all questions. I firmly believe that if you are armed with a solid background in chemistry, physics, and biology you should be able to explain most phenomena. But much to my dismay, the whole system breaks down when you’re talking bees.
You see, there was no bee on my glove, but I could hear her. When I pulled off the glove, I found the stinger planted firmly in the tip of my thumb and I could still hear her. I knew she couldn’t be inside the glove, but I turned it inside out anyway. And there she was—squished against the fabric, nearly dead but looking mighty proud.
But the glove was snug and the elastic was tight. For the life of me I can’t see how she dug under the elastic, squirmed along my hand, and tunneled the length of my thumb before burying her stinger in the very tip. There was just no room for all that nonsense.
I put the glove back on and stood in the snow conducting scientific inquiry. I scrooched my wrist all around trying to see if I could make a gap in the elastic large enough for a bee. No chance. I inspected it for holes, split seams, or other points of entry. No chance. I even went back to the hive as if the answer might be written there but, of course, no chance.
So I conclude what I always do when the bees pull one over on me—simply that you’ve got to love ‘em.
A bee in the bra (December 2010)