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Honeybee



I worked another 12 hour shift on Saturday and was swarmed by around 1600 honeybees while there. At first, I was anything but scared. I grabbed the camera and wanted a picture of the huge swarming mass of them. I walked right up to the ball of bees in the bush with them buzzing all around my head and ears, landing on my arms and shoulders, clinging to my pants and boots. I took several photos and backed away slowly, all the bees taking off as I did. I wasn't worried about being stung, though I probably should have been worried. It would have meant hospital time for me. It was discovered a few years ago that I'm highly allergic to bees now.

My employees have learned a new respect for me though... They saw me stare fear and death in the face only to walk away without a scratch or sting.

"What are you DOING" they asked me.

"I need pictures for the incident report," I replied.

"We can do that," they said. "We wont get killed for trying."

I smiled, walked towards them, and told them I already had the pictures, it was too late. Then a bee landed on one Officer's arm and he started swinging his arms wildly. The other Officer's eyes grew wide and he backed up quickly. I knew I couldn't get these guys to get the pictures I had wanted. Besides, I often tell them I'll never ask of them anything I wouldn't do myself. They finally saw that first hand.

When the proper people sprayed the chemicals on the bees, they started dropping out of the air like little missiles. The first one that landed on my shoulder didn't effect me, but when a dozen dropped on me at once and got hung up in my hair, that was when the panic set in. I called my guys to handle the closure while I guided people around the area in a great sweeping arc. I hid under an umbrella as the shower of bees continued to rain down on the mall for a full hour afterward.

I spent the rest of the night gagging, having a hard time breathing. At first I was worried I might have been stung, but once I looked closely I discovered that I was fine. While breathing was labored due to the chemicals, had I been stung I wouldn't have been able to breathe at all.

I've had a few run-ins with Bees over the past few years. The earliest I can remember was stepping on one. Mom and Dad told me not to go outside without my shoes on, and me being about 3 years old, learned that lesson the hard way. I went crying and screaming into the house where my parents scolded me for not doing as I was told. Then my mother mixed some meat tenderizer with water into a paste and put that on my sting. She pulled out the stinger with tweezers. I'm not sure who it was, but I remember having a visitor over right then. I think it was our neighbor, who told my mom how she got rid of the pain for her children when they were stung by bees. I laid there and milked the sympathy for all it was worth.

Another time we were visiting my Dad's sister, though I fail to remember if it was Aunt Denise or Aunt Lisa. I remember the house was a large A frame house with an upstairs, and it was out in the woods, so that leads me to believe that it's more likely to be Aunt Denise, since Lisa lives in Arizona where the woods are sparse and consist of mainly shrub brush and saguaro instead of live oak and cedar. Lightening Bugs zapped through the air sporadically at the early evening hours. I would spend an hour catching as many as I could and putting them into an empty, cleaned mayonnaise jar. The jar would glow with the phosphorescence of the lovely bugs for hours after I would go to bed. We would cook marshmallows over an open fire in the back yard and make s'mores. We would play in the tree house close by. My cousins would fight over who got to play with me or my brother. Yes, now that my memory has been sparked, it was my Aunt Denise and her boys, Chad, Shawn and Jason.

I remember when we first got to the A frame house. I wanted to see every inch of it. I ran from this room to that room, looking here, going there, seeing everything I could see. When I got to the french doors upstairs that led out onto the balcony, I asked if I could go outside. As soon as I got the yes, I swung the doors open and jumped up on the chair to get a better look at everything around me.

The doors swung open and knocked down a hornets nest directly behind me. Within seconds, they were swarming everywhere, going inside the house through the open doors and climbing all over my legs and arms. They stung and bit me almost immediately and I screamed in pain. My father ran out onto the patio and started brushing them off of me in droves. They fell as he swatted this way and that. I'm sure he got stung and bitten too, but he didn't care. He picked me up and rushed me down stairs to the couch. He laid me down and picked off the remaining hornets that had continued to sting and bite any flesh they could make contact with. My memory goes fuzzy from here and I have to wonder if I didn't pass out at that point.

When my memory comes back into focus, my Aunt had made another paste with dark colored meat tenderizer and was applying it to my body in every place that had begun to swell into golf ball sized lumps. I shivered from cold and nerves, not knowing exactly what was going on.

I'm not sure if that was the moment my body got an overdose of bee stings, but many years later when I was stung by a honeybee in 2006 outside of my office at work, I was rushed to the hospital. My throat had closed up and my face was turning purple. I couldn't breathe or swallow, and my skin had started to tingle slightly like it was going to sleep. My entire arm swelled and puffed up like a bright red balloon. It was announced later on that I was very allergic to bees and that I should avoid them at all cost from then on.

There have been a few times when I would bail out of my car and leave it abandoned on the side of the road because a bee had flown in through the open roof or a rolled down window. I've left my home for hours on end because one had gotten through a small hole in the window screen. And yet, here I was on Saturday, walking straight into the Lion's Den just to snap a few pictures.

Sometimes I can't help but feel that I do these things in order to prove a point. I want to make sure that I can still be a dare devil the way I was as a kid, riding a jet ski for the first time at top speeds or breaking into an old wooden shack in order to look tough for someone else. My arm was covered in bees on Saturday and I didn't stop approaching the swarming, squirming mass that had accumulated in the bushes and trees near by.

Then again, sometimes I know I don't do these things to impress anyone but myself. It was perhaps a stupid move, but I did it to prove to myself that I could. I'm not the bravest person in the world, and sometimes I fear stupid things - like glass elevators - but I make up for it in my own way.

Brave or stupid - that's me. Sometimes there's a fine line between the two. Sometimes I tread on that line like a child not knowing when fire is dangerous.

I've recently acquired the nickname Honeybee by someone - and to date it's my most favorite nickname I've ever been given. I smile each time I read it or hear it spoken. I remember the times in my life I've been stung and how much it hurt. Bees have their purpose though, just as everything else in the Circle of Life does. They can hurt us if we scare them or approach them in the wrong way, and yet they can provide us with such wonderful things as pollinated flowers and sweet honey. Maybe that's why I like the nickname. I can hurt those around me as a self defence mechanism when needed, but most of the time I go about my life as merrily as a little bee, trying my best to get things done and leave something positive behind once I'm gone.

I live up to my nickname, Honeybee. At least, I'd like to think so.

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