I’m thinking of writing a different column each month for this publication. Instead of ‘Dronings from a Queen Bee’, it’d be called “Really??!!” And instead of being written for humans, I’d write it for bees.
I got the idea mid-October, after refilling the feeder on a hive that is going into winter a bit light. I’ve been reinforcing their food stores by offering syrup in a jar feeder, positioned over the inner cover’s hole.
These little darlings had been sucking down a quart of syrup every three days for about a month. I figured they were getting used to me popping the top and refilling the jar, but I always suited up just in case. On this particular day, I wore my half-suit, perfect for a chilly fall day when I’m already in long pants.
I popped the top, and found the bone-dry jar and a lot of eyes staring at me in anticipation. And by a lot of eyes, I mean probably a quarter million or so. Like other insects, honeybees have hundreds of single eyes, each with their own lens, and each usually looking in a different direction…except this time the quarter million eyes were all staring at me accusingly.
“Sorry I’m late Ladies,” I muttered. “But there still is goldenrod out there you know.” They seemed unbothered that I’d opened their hive, and greedily swarmed the jar of warm syrup I settled over the inner cover’s hole. Yep, this was yet another time when I’d worn protective clothing for nothing, but better safe than sorry.
I gently closed the hive, and started walking back up the hill. I saw my mistake within seconds, or actually—I felt it. I hadn’t checked my legs to verify there were no honeybees crawling on them, and one must’ve felt threatened by my movement, and stung me on my “seat.”
My first reaction was pain. Even through the jeans, there was no mistaking what that burning spike meant.
My second reaction was “really??!!” Did they miss the lesson on “don’t bite the hand that feeds you? And don’t sting her tail either?”
I’ve been stung through jeans before. There’s the initial painful sting, but because the stinger can’t really get imbedded, it’s typically no big deal.
This one however was a big deal, for two reasons. First, because I really couldn’t believe that a bee would give up her life as I was trying to help save the lives in her hive, and second, because of where she stung me. My back end is large enough before bee sting inflammation.
As I rubbed my tail, the guardian honeybee fell to the ground, her tail beyond repair. Poor dear. Was stinging me necessary? Really?!
I have plenty of topics for the column “Really??!!”, such as:
Really?! You think swarming Labor Day is a good idea?
Really?! You thought crawling in that little gap where my zipper is bent at the top would end well for either of us?
Really?! You wanted to see my bathroom? How and when did you get in the house?
Really?! You think swarming again mid-September is a good idea?
Really?! You thought it’d be fun to ride in the car?
Really?! You thought four of you chasing my bee-loving niece a quarter of a mile would be good exercise for her?
Really?! You thought I couldn’t break through 45 pounds of propolis to pull that last super?
Of course, if there’s a column written for bees, it’s only fair we give them equal space. I suspect they could have their own “Really??!!” column, including such topics as:
Really?! You can go to the moon but you can’t do anything about Varroa?
Really?! You think we can’t find a way through all that “protective” clothing?
Really?! You think we wanted to swarm again mid-September? We had to because...(The bees will have to fill in the blank because I sure as heck have no idea why they swarmed.)
Really?! You think putting on a mouse guard after the varmint was already in our hive was helpful?
Really?! You think we enjoy seeing our life’s work in plastic bears?
Really?! We make honey and we share it. You make mead and you don’t. And you wonder why we sting you in the tail?!