Why do I feel like “Dear Abby?”
I love my neighbor….BUT I hate the honey bees that FLY all over our
farm/yard/pool/kids and play yard!! My little grandchildren are scared of
them. How can I deter the bees without insulting my nice neighbor??
I know this is not the answer you were looking for, but I offer it anyway.
I was surprised to hear you have a farm yet resent your neighbor’s honey bees. Of course, I know not what kind of farm it is, but I expect rural dwellers to have a greater understanding of the complexities and interrelationships of the natural world than those who live elsewhere.
But today, even the urban dwellers are more welcoming of honey bees than ever before. Residents of cities, counties, and other municipalities throughout North American and many other parts of the world are awakening to the fact that populations of natural pollinators are declining at an alarming and unprecedented rate, and we humans are ever more dependent on the ones we have left, especially the honey bee.
Yes, they can be annoying at times. And yes, their flight paths change with the seasons, depending on what is in bloom. But let me ask you some questions.
Do you eat colorful fruits and vegetables such as apples, cherries, avocados, blueberries, or mangoes? Thank a honey bee. Do you enjoy nuts such as almonds, cashews, or macadamias? Thank a honey bee. If you like to cook with canola oil or season your food with thyme, rosemary, basil, or sage, thank a honey bee. Do you ever plant seeds in your garden? Seeds such as carrot, kale, dill, or sunflowers? You guessed it. They all depend on honey bees.
Do your grandchildren wear cotton underwear or use cotton towels in the bath? Do they carve a jack-o-lantern in the fall, or enjoy a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? Again, thank a honey bee.
By the way, do they drink milk? Eat cheese, yogurt, sour cream, or ice cream? Don’t forget that bees pollinated the flower that made the seed that the farmer planted to raise the plant that fed the dairy cow.
But why stop there? A long, long time ago the bees pollinated many of the plants that fell to earth and became compressed by mudslides and water and all kinds of natural circumstances. Heat and pressure turned them into oil deposits which we pumped from the ground and formed into plastic to make milk jugs and toys, cribs and car seats.
In spite of all that, I agree no one should have to live in fear, especially not children, so this is what I recommend. You say you like your neighbor, the beekeeper. Good. Go knock on her door and explain that your grandkids fear the bees.
Ask her if she will show them the inside of a hive. Ask her if they can stick their fingers into a comb of honey warm from the sun and the bodies of thousands of bees. Tell her you want them to lick from their fingers one of the premier wonders of the natural world.
Ask her to catch a drone—they can’t sting—and let him walk about within their cupped hands. Let them count the six legs, five eyes, and two pairs of wings.
Ask if you can buy a comb or jar of honey to take back to your home and savor. Not only will the kids lose their fear, but they will remember the day for the rest of their lives. They will always understand the connection between bees and the foods we eat, and they will think you are the best grandparent in the universe . . . and they will be right.
And maybe, somewhere along this journey, you too will lose your fear—a fear that I suspect is the real problem here.