misadventures in homesteading :: bee school (or be schooled)

bees   Ah, misadventures in homesteading. We all have them, right? In homesteading, in parenting, in life, in anything we put ourselves completely into - whether new at it or not (but especially, of course, when we're new at it).  The best we can do, I think, from these little bumps in the road is to brush ourselves off; get back up and at it, having learned a thing or two; and commiserate with those beside us, laughing all the while. We have to keep laughing at ourselves. And so it is this week, that I bring you some recent lessons I've learned after one particularly exciting evening in my garden. A schooling straight from my bees... 1. Despite my comfort around those darling honeybees, simple little precautions really always should be taken. And perhaps, when I'm operating a ridiculously loud lawnmower later in the day when all the bees are home, I should not get so close to the bees so as to accidentally "bump" into their hive, thereby shaking their house and freaking them out. (A natural reaction for anyone who's home has just been shaken, yes?) Obviously, grass clippers are the 'right' answer here, and if you had asked me how to trim the grass in front of the hives one week ago, that would be the answer I gave (and clearly not the advice I followed in that moment when I was in a hurry to get the job done). 2. in a hurry to get the job done is not a recipe for success. 3. If one has a feeling the bees might be upset, which is then followed by a large number of bees flying around nervously, plus one is not wearing any protecting gear? Perhaps it is best to back away from the situation. Calmly but promptly. Ignoring it and continuing on? Maybe not so much. 4. It would be best in that situation, once one decides to leave the scene, not to freak out, nor run straight forward through the middle of said nervous bees. Wearing a black skirt and a black tank top. With no veil. (Ahem.) 5. And even if one mistakenly does do all of that, and then looks down to see herself covered in bees while beginning to be stung all over by the defensive team of bees feeling (rightfully so) under attack? Well. At that point, it would not be a good idea to quickly remove the shirt over her head, inside out, thereby putting all those bees that were just on the shirt into her hair. Her long, thick head of hair, where those bees could quite likely get even more confused, defensive and oh my goodness, completely trapped. Ah, so many lessons learned in just five minutes! To my credit, I suppose, after all of those mistakes (so many!), there were a few things I then did right. With help, I did get all of the bees out of my hair, and then removed all the stingers we could find. I treated all the stings and myself with apis mellifica and honey (it does really help with the stings). When I started to feel "funny", I took an antihistamine. Then when I felt nauseous, dizzy and my breathing felt constricted, I sat with my son's epi pen and waited for the ambulance to take me to the hospital. There, with gratitude and great embarrassment at the predicament I was in, I partook in all the lovely quick modern medicines that do good things in such a situation, waited the reaction out and tried not to beat myself up too much, nor think about the feeling of all those bees trapped in my hair (I will never forget that feeling). To be very very clear, I do not want to do a public disservice to the gentle, lovely honeybees of the world with my tale of foolishness. I assure you (see the lessons above!), this particular fiasco was 100% operators error. (Please don't take away my apiary license!) It's said that only one percent of honeybee stings result in anaphylactic shock. And just because I had such a reaction this time, it's only a little bit more likely that it will happen to me again. I've now learned my lesson(s).  And now, I've got some apologies to make to a few thousand little cute and fuzzy creatures. Yes, I'll be the one in the garden by the hives, wearing a veil, and giving thanks to those honeybees for the schooling they gave me. ~amanda