Bathing with bees
It was day seven without a septic pump. I’ve lived on the same rural property for 20 years, and things happen. Walking around with a shovel is nothing particularly out of the ordinary. If it’s not the septic pump, it’s the house pump. If it’s not the house pump, it’s the well pump. And when the power goes, it all goes. We’ve endured multiple ten-day power outages in the past, so I’m completely accustomed to cooking, cleaning, and bathing on just quarts per day.
This situation, which occurred in late June, was rather luxurious as far as these things go. It was summer, for one thing—not 40 degrees and raining, the way it usually is. And although the septic pump was out, we still had power—and power means water. Yay! But it was complicated because that water could not go down the drain. The pump was on order and in the hands of people who still had flush toilets. So what’s the hurry?
On this day I decided to shower in the backyard. No one was home but me, and it was warm and sunny. I laid out the garden hoses in the sun so the water would warm.
What I had forgotten was that during the spring I had put a beehive in my favorite backyard spot. Also, since it was taking so much time to do ordinary things like clean dishes, wash clothes, and take care of personal necessities with nothing but a bucket and shovel, the lawn remained unmowed. Instead, the grass was tall, the clover abloom, and all of it was alive with said bees. Hmm.
With towel in hand, I watched them dart in and out for a few minutes. Then I shrugged: what the heck? I stripped down to nothing, tip-toed through the clover, and proceeded to soap up with the garden hose eight feet in front of a bustling hive. It’s what beekeepers do, right?
So what happened? Absolutely nothing. Like so many creatures, honey bees seem to know the difference between a threat and a bath. They continued to come and go, buzzing loudly, but politely detouring around me at 20 miles per hour.
It made me think of all those nervous neighbors—the people who freak when bees move in nearby, the people who cower from hives as if they were bombs, the people who call the police, animal control, or the sheriff’s office when their neighbors install a hive. It would be good for people to see this—well, parts of it anyway—just to know how user friendly bees can be.
Sure, they can be testy at times, but so can people, dogs, deer, and chickens. It made me wonder why the fear factor is so overwhelming. Is it instinct or is it taught? Is it rational or irrational? Why do things that are truly dangerous—cars, for example—not bother us in the least?
In 2010 in the United States there were approximately 5,419,000 vehicle crashes, which resulted in 32,885 deaths and 2,339,000 injuries. In the same year in the United States, approximately 100 people died from the stings of all insects including bees, wasps, and hornets.
In spite of this, no one “reports” their neighbors for owning a car, truck, or other vehicle. People don’t complain to the zoning board or the town council. People don’t warn their kids to stay away or draft letters to lawyers. What is wrong with us? When did we lose our little minds?