Un-stung Hero

Andrea Freedman

Come the middle of August until the end of the summer, some of the simple pleasures I enjoy such as coffees and drinks on patios, lying by a pool and reading or writing in the park are compromised by the constant threat of bees. While I am not afraid of most other insects or animals, I must confess that bees really scare me.

As I milk what few precious nice days we have left this summer, I do so with caution and, regrettably, a bit of anxiety as at this time of year, the bees are out in droves.

As I have certain allergies I have no idea what kind of reaction I might have to a bee sting. I have been told by some that for them, a bee sting could be deadly. Bees may be small but when they come too close they are just as powerful as vultures waiting to pounce upon their prey.

They say traumatic childhood events can leave lasting impressions. Although I myself was not on the receiving end of the attack, I still have a vivid picture in my mind of a young childhood friend’s frightening experience with a bee sting.

It is something I have never forgotten. All of a sudden all hell broke loose and my friend, who only seconds before was playing with the rest of the kids who lived in our townhouse complex, was running around wildly screaming “I got stung by a bee! I got stung by a bee!”

Someone else I know was stung after accidentally sitting on a bee. While there were inevitably some jokes made at her expense, it was not entirely all that funny to her.

Yet another horrific story involving bees was told to me by a woman who was once was attacked by three bees at the same time in a flower store, when they flew out of a hanging plant she was carrying to the cashier to purchase. Needless to say, after being attended to by the apologetic staff, she ended up leaving the store empty-handed.

I recall one incident on a summer vacation up north where bees surrounded a garbage can by the pool that the maintenance staff for some strange reason did not feel the need to clean out. Hence, despite that the resort was otherwise lovely (not to mention expensive), the annoying bees took away from my relaxation.

Other than the bees, summer is my favourite time of year. However, during bee season, the minute I sit down to relax it seems one of them has been waiting in the wings – no pun intended – to curtail my plans.

I realize bees produce honey and pollinate the flowers but they also terrify some people. I admire people who are bold enough to hit a bee with the bottom of a shoe, and I applaud them if even one bee is flattened, stopped before getting an unsuspecting victim. I wish I could be that brave but there are times where it seems as if a bee will not leave me alone, following my every move. I end up running scared every time.

People say bees are more afraid of us than we are of them but somehow I find that hard to believe. Who would think that something so small could induce such great fear, not to mention the degree of pain they are said to inflict when they do sting.

A couple of weeks ago, for one brief moment, I thought that my good luck had run out. I was walking along happily eating an ice cream cone, knowing that I was risking attracting a bee. Out of nowhere I screamed as I felt an agonizing, piercing pain in the bottom of my foot; it was unlike anything I had ever felt before. However, I was more upset that a bee had possibly had the audacity to sting me and ruin my perfect record than I was at the thought of having stepped on a rusty tetanus-inducing nail.

Although the pain was excruciating it took the sting out when it had been confirmed that I had not in fact been stung by a bee, and that some unknown object had stuck its way through the thin sole of my flip flop. Even though it hurt to walk, I felt relieved, and I dare say maybe even a little bit smug.

I have managed to live forty-seven years without ever having been stung by a bee and with the summer coming to an end, I am happy to report that, while there have been many close calls with bees this past summer, I survived yet another season unscathed and most importantly, un-stung.♣

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2013

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About andfreed

I am a Toronto based writer of articles, columns, essays and novels.

Posted on September 16, 2013, in Weekly Thoughts and Observations and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The bees in Europe are very sedate. If you are sat next to a flower, they’d take their pollen and completely ignore you. I’d happily spend an afternoon in the garden reading a book and occasionally putting it down to watch the honeybees. You do want to keep out of the way when they are swarming though (July-August) just in case.

    It’s the wasps over here – angry, nasty little pests. You’re far more likely to be stung by a wasp than a bee in the UK and they won’t leave you alone. They’re usually around the bins too, anywhere there might be sweet foods – paper cups with Coca Cola residue etc.

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  2. The story is a very familiar one, and I wonder if you were remembering when I bent over some flowers in a flowershop, and 3 bees flew out and bit me. I was so terrified that I fled the store and forgot about whatever it was that brought me there. Good Article.

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