I’m not afraid of bees, but I’d prefer not to be stung, thank you very much. I don’t get hysterical when they approach, but I respect their personal space. And I really appreciate the favor they do for us with that whole pollination thing.

Despite my highly evolved and intelligent perspective on our yellow-and-black-banded friends, I was still a little nervous about feeding the 20,000 Italian honeybees who live in my friend’s beehive.

Before approaching the hive, I donned long canvas gloves and a beekeeping veil/hat and tucked my jeans into my boots. An ant would have had a hard time getting through all that fabric. Unfortunately the hat kept slipping down over my eyes, so I could only see south of my neck, leaving me open to aerial attacks.

Amid my nervous chatter, my friend John assured me that Italian honeybees are lovers, not fighters. Paisan! Still, the surest way to piss off a bee is to mess with its home.

The hive itself wasn’t very intimidating—it looks like a white box. It is a white box. Following John’s instructions, I removed the lid. Nothing scary so far—lots of bees ignoring the interruption, like my kids watching the Disney channel.

Next I removed old bags of sugar water, along with a few dead bees who paid the ultimate price for their Thanksgiving overindulgence.

At this point, a few bees meandered onto my gloves. Almost no chance of a sting, but since I’m so good at freaking out, I decided to freak out a little. That’s when my chattering kicked into high gear.

My beloved golden retriever, Scout, who can’t figure out how to jump through the doggy door, probably could have done what I was doing, and yet I had questions.

You can do it, Scout!

It was time to put in the bag of fresh sugar water. Several paisan lounged about, in danger of getting squashed.

Me: Move, bees!

John: They’re fine.

Me: But won’t they get squashed?

John: No, just lay it down.

Me: But they’re in the way.

John: Ok, there is a bunch flying out. You need to put it down.

Me: Timber!

Then John handed me a knife to cut the bag in a few places.

Me: I can’t cut it!

John: You’re using the wrong side. Turn it around?

Me: Turn the bag around?

John: Turn the knife around!

Me: Huh?

John: *sigh*

Eventually I cut the bag. Then it was time to put the lid back on and dance around the yard to shoo away any lingering bees. The dance was my idea; I’m pretty sure John doesn’t do that. The whole process took about two minutes.

It was neat. No bee-related epiphanies, except maybe to pay closer attention to which side of a knife is the dull side. Also, I have nice, patient friends (thank you, John).

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29 Responses to Apiphobia

  1. gatehouse13 says:

    Love it – very fetching outfit!

  2. bigsheepcommunications says:

    Scout looks concerned. Either that or he’s thinking “please don’t wear that when we go for a walk later!”

  3. You go girl! You get extra bravery points for that activity. Love the photos.

  4. Gilly says:

    THAT IS SO COOL! I want to keep bees! Love the photos! Love your adventure! Also, THAT IS SO COOL!
    PS. You are the bee’s knees!

  5. Fending off bees?! Better be careful–you’ll be skydiving before the year’s out! 🙂

  6. booksnob says:

    You should have wiggled your tush a little and tried buzzing at them to convince them you were just a visiting giant queen or something.

  7. Lesley says:

    Now that’s BRAVE!!!! Well done!!
    A few years ago I had to photographer a bee keeper at work, unlike you I didn’t have the brains to tuck my trousers into my socks and spent the whole shoot expected 200,000 bees to swarm up my trouser leg.

    What will she do next? I can’t wait to find out. Love your blog.

  8. winsomebella says:

    I am sure the dance made all the difference in the world. Hooray for you!

  9. I would have been so scared! Delightful.

  10. So awesome! I’ve not-so-secretly wanted a backyard bee hive for years, but my husband (who claims – rather vehemently, actually – that he is NOT afraid of bees) would prefer we continue to buy our honey at the store. Spoilsport. Kudos on your brave adventure!

  11. gojulesgo says:

    Wow! This is truly brave!! Way to go!

  12. k8edid says:

    Very brave – so proud of you. And the outfit is truly flattering.

  13. Excellent photo! There is no way I could do that! Very Brave!

  14. Angie Z. says:

    You are so brave! I get the willies just reading about what you did. And I love the heck out of bees!

    Fantastic and very relevant clip you provided. I loved the bees skits. I had to google this afterwards for this key factoid — Rob Reiner and Penny Marshall were once married. Crazy.

    • I had forgotten all about that! I remember sneaking down to watch SNL (way past my bedtime) those first few years. I have no point here; I’m just remembering the satisfaction of getting something past my parents.

  15. Muff says:

    Scout looks ready to pounce!

    • And when he does, you better be ready to pet him, OR ELSE! My dogs are very strict about how much attention they will be paid. I think they would hinder burglars only by annoying them into leaving.

  16. workmomad says:

    You are very kind and brave to offer to take care of any kind of bees. No way I would do that! I did learn, in one of my other lives as a teacher, that you can peacefully get most wasps and bees to leave a room by turning of all the lights and leaving an entrance towards the outdoor light for them to head to. We had no air conditioning and no screens in rural North Carolina. The warm fall and spring months could get tough!


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