Last Wednesday, I went to check on my bees. Confidently, I put on my makeshift beekeeping suit: my rain jacket, snow pants, hiking boots, leather gloves, and a cheap mosquito head net. Like a dutiful beekeeer, I brought over 25lbs of sugar, lovingly filled up their feeder, and watched my 14,000 cute, fuzzy children wander around in the hive.
But I couldn’t help help myself.
I wanted discover if I could see any bee eggs in the comb to make sure the queen was laying, even though I had just introduced the bees four days earlier.
I opened the top cover to reveal a swarming mass of honey bees, clearly bother by my intrusion. The entire colony buzzed at me angrily and dozens of them began to shoot themselves at me, landing on my headnet, hands, and arms.
I tried to get one of the frames out of the hive to check for eggs. Using my pry bar, I began to lift the frame out of the hive. As I attempted to lift it out, it broke with a sickening crunch, and a comb full of bees fell angrily to the bottom of the hive. Because the spacing is so tight in bee hives, I had to remove another frame full of bees before I could reach the broken frame. Gingerly, I brushed the bees off of the first frame, hoping I had not accidentally killed the queen.
Then I felt it: the soft tickling of insect feet on my skin. All of a sudden my confidence turned to cold truth.
Beekeeping books say that as a beekeeper, one is supposed to move slowly and methodically when working around bees. All such zen-like thoughts completely left me as I felt bee feet moving up my back. They had got in. Milliseconds later I felt the sting. And I did what any other rational person would do: I dropped everything and ran. Fast. Brutally punching myself in the back where I had been stung. I ran across the yard — a grown, bearded man in snowpants fleeing in terror from bugs. My sense of imperviousness (to say nothing of my sense of pride) had been shattered…
I think I’ll go back tonight, ask them for forgiveness, and offer them some sugar water.