If there is still a shortage of honeybees, I think they have all moved into my neighborhood. After a year or two of hardly seeing any of them, they are back, and living life with unusual frenetic intensity. This apparently means they are also being hyper-vigilant. I guess if you are trying to rebuild your colonies then protecting the nest has top priority. What it has meant for me is that I have been stung three times in a couple of weeks.
Yep, something unnatural must be going on. I literally could not recall the last time I had been stung, but it must have been so long ago that I was either a child or a teenager. My memory of being stung must be hazy, because I remembered it as a mild hurt. Actually being stung all these years later turned out to be a very painful experience.
Our neighborhood bees are getting crafty. They took me wholly unaware the first time. Who imagines they could get stung before seven o’clock in the morning? I sure did not, so I mindlessly ambled out my front door to retrieve the newspaper from my driveway. I had just placed one foot on my porch when out of nowhere a honeybee decided to land on my right palm and insert one stinger.
Ouch. I mean ouch! It took me a while to figure out what had happened. I thought maybe a thorn had penetrated my skin somehow, but there was the honeybee on the floor of my porch looking really pissed off and going through its death throes. I do what I usually do when some minor infirmity strikes and tried to ignore it. There was no evidence of the stinger still lodged in my palm. Within half an hour I was not only hurting, I was getting sweaty and short of breath. I Googled what to do about these things and aside from removing the stinger and maybe taking an antihistamine, there was little advice other than to watch for symptoms that might require an antivenin. Shortness of breath was one of them. Fortunately, that passed within an hour or so. Given my acute pain, I expected my palm to balloon up, but instead it was just red. Imagine a sharp needle about half an inch inside your palm and some sadistic person was constantly jostling it around. That’s what it felt like. And so it went for twenty-four hours or so. After that it hurt less, but the whole palm hurt off and on for a week. Meanwhile, I became very careful when retrieving my paper in the morning. I suddenly noted a nest of bees next to the walk by my porch, but felt not inclined to buy something to dislodge them. I didn’t want to get stung again and their season was coming to an end anyhow. I figured, what are my odds of being stung again so soon anyhow?
Apparently, they were greater than being struck by lightning. Last weekend I was out on our deck. I noted a few bees above the deck but paid them little mind. I was on a mission to spray paint a new screen door that I had purchased. I put down a drop cloth, laid the door horizontal on the back deck and started spraying. Whatever the manufacturers put in these cans as aerosols, it is either very attractive or annoying to bees. One of them decided he had enough, and made a “bee”line for my left forearm. I pulled out the stinger, cursed a bit and kept spray-painting. This sting hurt, but not as much as the first one. There must be less tissue on the arm compared to the palm. However, unlike the first one, it itched worse. I tried calamine lotion and then baking soda, but neither did much. My skin did get red, partly from my scratching. I must have scratched off the skin where the bee stung me, because this morning I ended up slathering the area with triple antibiotic ointment.
I figured that stinging was over at least for the season. Exiting and entering the house via the garage kept me far away from the bees. I spent this morning and afternoon doing errands, preparing for my father’s imminent remarriage tomorrow. As best I could tell, I avoided all bees. When I had finally finished the last chore of vacuuming the house and sat down at my trusty computer desk when I felt something irritating my ankle. What the heck? It was yet another bee, this one some assassin bee that had somehow gotten inside. Moreover, he decided to sting my ankle. I could find no stinger my leg is definitely irritated. I am trying a topical analgesic this time for the discomfort. As for the bee, he quickly met his maker.
Now I am getting paranoid. I Googled for recent news of beestings but found no articles indicating more people were being stung than usual. It must be something about me. Maybe it is the feminine deodorant that I have been borrowing from my wife that smells all flowery and makes them think I have some pollen free for the taking. Something about me seems to be attracting their attention, and not in a good way. For anything other than a beekeeper, three stings in less than two weeks seem definitely unnatural.
Maybe it’s a sign of the Apocalypse. Or maybe bees hate progressives like me. Or maybe they wanted to sting Sarah Palin, but I was more convenient. Or something. I think I need a beekeeper suit. The bees are definitely sending me a message.