Facing my fear of bees in a beekeeping suit

Facing my fear of bees in a beekeeping suit
My beekeeper suit, minus the gloves

I’m afraid of bees. Not that I have a serious phobia that needs to be worked out in therapy, but I’m not a fan. I’ve been stung by bees, a wasp and a hornet so I know exactly what that fun feels like.

For the most part, it wasn’t their fault.  Once a bee stung me randomly when I was little, another time I grabbed a leaf (AKA giant bee) out of my hair, recently I stepped barefoot on a wasp in my basement and another time I was stung by a hornet.

Yes, I was a kid and yes, the hornets were building a nest in a pipe in my swing set and yes, I purposely put my mouth on said pipe and blew into it. Before I knew what was happening, the hornets started coming out and I ran for it.

I made it halfway to the house when one got me in the back of the leg. I fell on the ground screaming like I was hit on the battlefield. I pulled a Ralphie from A Christmas Story and ran in the house crying, “I don’t know what happened (sob). I was just walking around outside and this hornet chased me down (wail)!”

Fast forward to today. Our local nature center keeps bee hives and in the spring and fall they invite people to participate in a 90 minute beekeeping class. Now, Lilia did this with an after school program when she was in kindergarten. She has been wanting to go again and I thought it might be good to conquer my bee fear.

We arrived at the nature center and sat outside with our group. A naturalist gave us the lowdown on all things bee, answered questions and showed us honeycombs and what a stinger looks like under a microscope, amongst other things.

Fun fact: did you know that some people believe eating local honey will cure you of seasonal allergies? If you take a teaspoon of local honey or eat honey pollen every day, you are exposing your body to whatever you’re allergic to outdoors, eventually ridding yourself of said allergy.

We put on our bee suits and got ready to head down a hill to the bee hives. The naturalist announced that nobody has ever gotten stung while on a bee expedition with her.

Team Beekeeper

Team Beekeeper

She reminded us that the suits are bee resistant and not bee proof. She also said one time her pants were taut because she was holding something and a bee was able to sting her. I suddenly got nervous. No turning back now.

She mentioned if a bee were to find its way into your suit, to calmly walk back up the hill and open your suit to let the bee out. Fun fact #2: when a bee stings you, it lets out a scent to inform other bees there is danger. You don’t want to be around other bees when this smell happens because they might attack.


Beekeeper sans gloves, sleeping on the job

We shuffled down the hill in our suits and the naturalist opened one of the hives that houses about 60,000 bees. She brought out one of the honeycombs and passed it around. Lilia was brave enough to hold it. She held about 300 bees by herself!

The naturalist had just walked by us after holding a handful of bees when Lilia looked up at me and said, “Mommy, I have a bee in my glove!” She held her arm completely still.

“Honey, are you sure? Those gloves go past your elbows and they’re really tight.” “I’m serious! I feel it!” I called to the naturalist that we might have a bee and that we were walking back up the hill as instructed.

I figured Lilia had an itch and thought it was a bee. I slowly pulled her glove off and there was a big fuzzy honeybee crawling around her bare hand. “Oh, there is a bee,” I said in my trying to not panic voice. She’ll just fly right away I bet. Nope, no flying.

I remembered the naturalist saying not to swat it away because it might sting. “Um, maybe if I just casually walk by it will follow me,” I said doing an exaggerated walk, still wearing my suit.

“Mommy, it’s not moving!” At this time, one of the co-leaders walked up the hill as the bee crawled onto Lilia’s suit. The co-leader plucked the bee right off. Day saved.

Later, in the car, Lilia said her favorite part was when the bee was on her hand. “I wonder why that bee didn’t sting me, she said staring out the window. I used to be afraid of bees, but they don’t make me nervous anymore.” “Yeah, I agreed. That bee was actually pretty cool. She can hang out in our garden any day.”

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Filed under: nature, science

Tags: beekeeper, bees

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