Seriously. I work with bees a lot. I get stung a lot. But from time to time a honey bee really freaks me out.
Yesterday was cold but I’ve been doing some experiments with moisture control and I wanted to check my hives for dampness before it got even coldersomething it is supposed to do this weekend. I was wearing a bee jacket and veil. I normally don’t wear protective gear in the winter for quick checks, but I’ve been getting stung a lot lately and didn’t want a swollen face for the weekend. I put my bee jacket over two sweatshirts and a tee shirt and called it good enough; my winter jacket just wouldn’t fit under there.
Long about the third hive an irritated guard nailed me on the wrist. It hurt too. No, I thought, the previous last sting-of-the-year wasn’t the last one after all.
I kept working and the rest of the job was uneventful. I was really cold though, so I collected an armload of wood before I went inside. I built a fire and stood close to the wood stove hoping to thaw my fingers.
After a moment I felt something wet under my shirt. I scrooched around in my clothes hoping to dry it. A moment later I felt in again, so I pulled my shirts up from the waist. I couldn’t see anything unusual so I yanked them back down and decided it was just the cold.
As the fire got warmer I felt the wet sensation yet again. This time I pulled my shirts out from the neck and looked down. A miasma of alarm pheromone hit my nose. It confused me at first, and then I realized I was not alone in my shirts. I bunched up the fabric in my fists. Although I am not normally a bee killer, this was getting personal.
After a moment, I pulled on the neck of my shirts again and had another look. Then I freaked. She was in my bra, right where . . . where . . . oh, never mind. Let’s just say she had no business being where she was bee-ing.
I started to think of barter, negotiation, and compromise. I was willing to sacrifice my other wrist or maybe an arm or ankle to this marauding heathen but please not there! She was equally freaked and running in a tight little circle. I realized the wood stove was warming her into a frenzy.
Fit to be tied, I pulled off the bee jacket, sweatshirt number one, sweatshirt number two, the t-shirt, and the bra. I tossed them on the floor. I could hear myself make a little whiny noise as I wriggled out of each successive garment. My cat sat a cautious distance away, watching me with his head cocked. I told him where he could stuff it.
In the end nothing happened. The bee flew off in the house somewhere. The cat circled his tail, bored once more. I got dressed. This morning I found the bee marching across a blanket, blithely unaware of her extraordinary powers of intimidation.