Saturday, May 8, 2010


A friend of mine keeps bees.  She has been trying to persuade me to do the same.

This is very funny, because I have a primal reaction to any insect that buzzes in the air around me.  I whimper.  Those vibrations resonate with me, alright, and not sympathetically.  My nerve endings tingle and get nearly frozen with the need to choose between "fright" or "flight."

This is why I understand beekeeper garb.

Kinda "2001: A Space Odyssey," no?  I see just one problem.  Do you? gloves!  Ack!

As it turns out, people actually roam near the hives without garb.  Well, without beekeeper garb.  One assumes that they are generally clothed.  Which is, as far as I am concerned, something to be thought of in these situations as "the gift of garb."

The whole concept seems so sylvan in the abstract.

How pretty and peaceful.  How one with nature.  How pollinating.  The delights of the dripping honeycomb.  The thrum of Earth itself, raised in screens and travelling the air.

But then other realities settle in.

Mmm, yeah.

Ummm, no.

At this point, I need to make it clear that I love bees.  They are one of my totem creatures, with dragonflies and frogs.  (Oddly, I was once scared stiff by the turbulent appearance of a dragonfly in front of my 4-year old face...I seem to have a, erm, complex relation with some of my totem creatures.)  I keenly appreciate their role on our planet and in my garden.  I welcome them.  Literally.  I'll say "Hello, bee" when I'm working in the garden.  I'll note if it is a bumble or a mason or some manner of bee I need to learn about...or even if, as once was true and brought happiness to me, it is a honeybee.  Then, depending on my constitution that day, I will pseudo-blithely work on, taking note if I seem to be disturbing the bee.  Or, I might decide to check out something in the front yard.  NOW.  And amble away.

I do what I can to cognitively adjust my fear.  I sit and admire the bees.  I adopt a nearly meditative stance when I realize I have happened nearly on top of a big bumbler (or one upon me), and breathe through the first minute.  I have even achieved apiarian peace.

I try not to blame bees for the behavior and culture of other stinging flying things which also cause harmonic disturbances in my universe, like wasps and hornets.

I've been thinking about it for a couple of years now.  I go through data, and slide shows like this one at The Daily Green.  I smile when I see a mason bee emerge from a hole if its own creation that is next to a favorite plant.

Nonetheless, if you were an oddsmaker, you'd probably lay better chances with Mac Naked Honey on my skin this summer than a hive in my backyard.

Beekeeper suit found at Blossomland Supply.  Second two pictures, from a series detailing a nucleus hive install, from the blog Institute of Jurassic Technology.  Review of Mac Naked Honey coming up.


Musette said...

I didn't know you had such an interesting relationship with bees. I love them - they hang out on my arms and I pet bumblers while they are sleeping in echinacae (if you lightly stroke their thoraxes they will purr). I've only been stung by honeybees a few times in my life (3?) and felt bad for the bee. We are going to put hives on our property, probably next year after we take down the 35-ft, nearly dead tree in the middle of our yard. I'm All About the Bee.

On the other hand, wasps and hornets.......yow!


ScentScelf said...

Next time I'll talk about the bee that followed me.

Or the giant bumble bee that looked me in the eye.

You know the recent studies that show bees can recognize human faces? We need to respect the bee. I do. I respect the bee very, very much.

You're a bee petter, too, Musette? It's a concept. That I admire in others. :) Hooray for the hives coming in! I always wave at hives when I see them.

flittersniffer said...

Bee petters? "Aspiring urban beekeepers"? New nomenclature such as "mason" and "echinacae"? - why, I thought the latter was a cold remedy.

I was stung by a queen bee once when on a houseboat, aged 11. The back of my thigh swelled up to the height of 1cm, and resembled the topography of a butte. I was briefly hospitalised and have been circumspect around bees of every denomination since.

Now MAC Naked Honey I own and enjoy!

ChickenFreak said...

I approve of bees. I'm very pleased to see bees in the garden. I plant flowers that bees like.

But when the bees are actively in the process of liking them, I choose to be somewhere else. At least a few plants over, and quite possibly on the other side of the house. I always prefer to keep my distance from armed wildlife.

Ines said...

:) We all gave our scary (little) totem animals.
Btw, I wore Naked Honey just yesterday for the first time and liked it. I was scared of putting it on even though I liked it when sampling it on my wrist, not to get the honey badness (it seems for no reason now).

ScentScelf said...


There was a time in my life when "echinacea" was an exotic remedy for a cold and "coneflower" was that you-can't-kill-it flower my grandfather grew. And then the twain did meet. :)

Ouch! A queen, no less? Of course, like you, I am a fan of circumspection in the company of stingers.

Naked Honey, I'm still not sure if I'm fond. Wore it yesterday in honor of the post. Wondering if the turn in the weather (we ended up with frost last night) was a factor.

ScentScelf said...

Chicken Freak,

Yes. Approval, and respectful distance. :)

I have planted many flowers the bees like, including the aforementioned echinacea. And they come.


(Nice to see you here! Welcome.)

ScentScelf said...


So from Croatia to middle America, Naked Honey was heard. Smelled. Both? ;)

As I just mentioned to Chicken Freak, I'm not sure that I am on the passionate wagon when it comes to this MAC. Am going to try it again when the weather warms back up.

Ines said...

ScentScelf, I just realized I wrote gave instead of have (I just don't know what's wrong with me these days, I'm clumsy with everything).
No, I can't say I'm thrilled with MAC Honey, I prefer much more the linden one but since I have both and don't wear this one much, I just picked it up Saturday. :)

The Left Coast Nose said...

I, like you, have a happy Platonic Idea(l) of the bee. In the reality, I am quite neutral-- neither a bee whisperer/petter (bees not making it into my conception of Animals That Need Petting), nor a bee fearer. Bees and I coexist happily.

Your description of your reaction to bees "in the wild" as it were, (read: your backyard) reminds me of my reaction to spiders. Hel-lo worst nightmare/beneficial fellow traveller! No, no, stay right there, don't get up, I'll just, uh, check on that cake I should be baking...

Actually had some kind of low-level PTSD experience the other week when I ran across not one, but two black widows clearing out some ivy along a friend's fence a few weeks back. For the next day or so, I kept seeing them flashing before my eyes. Yikes!

Oh, yes. MAC Pure Honey? never heard of it. Probably see it everywhere, now...

Musette said...

Bees don't actually 'need' petting. I just 'need' to pet them. But it takes some focus and skill - it helps if they are sleeping (or at least quiet) and I only do it with bumblers.

OW! on the queen stinging you, fs! OW!

LCN. totally with you on the widders - actually with any spider! That is why God Made Gloves, imo! I don't like surprises, like the time a little silver snake slithered across my hand. I didn't scream, only because it happened so blasted fast! But it took me awhile to find my stomach - it had falled out and was laying in the middle of the path!

ScentScelf said...

Ines, I hope you enjoy your new 'fume -- perhaps a lower level appreciation will build to something more passionate?

LCN, I like to believe I coexist comfortably with bees. There are good days. And then there are those (loved this!) "must check on the cake" days... As for black widows, ZOIKS! Staring at you with all eight eyes...or 16, I guess...

Musette, oh, no, I don't think those bees need petting. Focus, skill...and willingness to err, I imagine...all required. They do look soft and furry...see, I *have* gotten that close. In fact, sometimes they crack me up when they've got pollen beards, darn drunken hedonists with stingers. ;)