When the bee stings

Just this week, a friend at work asked me, “Beekeeping? Are you not scared of getting stung?” 

My first bee season starts in about 40 days. And I do worry about a lot of things as that day gets closer, but stings don’t concern me. I made peace with that a long time ago.

Remember that song that goes, “If you wanna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band”? Well, if you want to be a beekeeper, you gotta have a stinger in your hand. And arm, leg, cheek. A bee doesn’t want to sting you. She’ll die if she does. (Male bees, being pretty much useless, cannot sting. They just hang around and eat and try to meet a needy queen.) But bees only know dedication to the queen and the hive, so they’ll die protecting the homestead if that’s what they need to do.

Beekeepers wear light-colored clothing when they work the hives. But do you know why? Bees don’t see colors the same way humans do. If bees see a dark moving mass, the lookout bees are like, “There’s a bear!” We have two dogs with unlimited access to the back yard. One of our dogs is white and loves to chase flying insects. Our other dog is smart enough to know better, but the bees are going to peg her for a bear. She looks a lot like one to me sometimes. I just hope she’ll learn to stay clear of the fenced-off bee yard. I’m already stocking up on antihistamines just in case.

The main thing I worry about is killing the bees. Off and on for weeks, I’ve had stress dreams about bringing the bees home and crushing the queen as soon as I get her here. I dream of squashing whole frames of brood. And when I’m awake, I worry about what will happen to my bees when it gets too hot or too cold or too rainy. And a new horror came into my mind today. What will happen in a tornado? We’ll have to bring the bees into the house.

My husband said the hell we will.

I can make peace with knowing I’ll be stung by bees. But I guess I can’t make peace with the bees not being my pets. That’ll probably change after the first dozen or so stings.

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