Goofing With The Bees

June 25th, 2012 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

My scream, I was told, would have curdled milk. Until that defining moment, I had a serious fear of bees…apparently a common phobia.

At around 7 or maybe 8, my very intimate, in-the-shirt encounter with what I recall as a huge bee changed all of that. Previously, bees and like critters such as yellow jacket wasps hurt me physically a bit and emotionally substantially. While an outdoorsy, tent-camping, walk the woods, leas and cow pastures, garden in my grandfather’s one-acre “patches” ┬ákind of little guy, I dreaded the next sting. I’d walked barefoot on bees, which in retrospect understandably stung me. Sitting at family picnics dripping watermelon juice, I’d get attacked by a bee or yellow jacket for no reason I could fathom. In short, the pain, itching and swelling came on me suddenly and with no malice on my part.

Then came the gigantic bee in my shirt.

My grandparents’ backyard in their house where I summered, abutted the Mytinger place (apparently the oldest house in the state and at the time very neglected property). With my family’s carefully planted and cultivated flowers, and the neighboring overgrowth, there were flowers galore. In particularly right on the border, my grandfather had planted hollyhocks, which were basketball-player height and jammed with blossoms that bees loved.

Several of us kids where playing right there when a huge bumblebee flew down the back neck of my tee-shirt and scampered way down inside.

My grandmother loved slapstick and to her the essence of humor was schadenfreude, not surprise. That evening, she said how sorry she was that she missed the event. She added immediately that the neighbors who did hear me thought I was being killed. Apparently I let out a loud, enthusiastic and, as it turned out cathartic, bellow of terror. Then I literally tore my shirt off, shredding it.

To this day, the humor to me is that not only did the normally benign (just ask a country kid) bumblebee did not sting me. Rather, the incident with its scream exorcised the fear. From that moment, I’ve had no dread of any critter in that family. I keep a judicious eye on the unpredictable bad actors, such as hornets, but bees and wasps are just other insects to me.

If I’m sitting outside and a bee or two land on my arm. Well, a bee or two landed on my arm. I might let them crawl or just blow them away. No foul.

Thus recently, I have been taking a few snaps of bees making love to flowers (as above). Those are not telephoto, rather with the lens an inch or two from the subjects. When people ask if I am afraid of being with the bees, I just tell them no. Rarely, I’ll add my tale of tee-shirt release.

The bee interplay does remind me of that charming The Point! album by Harry Nilsson. Its bee scene has the protagonists hiding in a hollow log from a bee swarm, when the log rolls downhill into the Rock Man. He looked at them and said, “Say – what’s happening with you boys . . . it looks like you’re pretty shook up, been goofing with the bees?”

I can relate.

 

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