Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ah, Penny, Brown Penny, Brown Penny

Today, I took a quick look to see how the girls are doing. It wasn't a full inspection inside the hive. I was just observing the entrance to see what they were up to. They were quite busy bringing in pollen and nectar, and everything was sunny and lovely until an overzealous guard flew right into my hair.

Beehive hair from
As usual, I had my hair pulled back into my regular beekeeping hairdo. I know what you're thinking, but no, it wasn't a beehive. ;-) When I visit the bees, I just pull everything back into a loose knot so that they don't think I'm a bear or something. I guess that I should probably rethink that particular 'do (or at the very least consider a hat) since she still managed to get tangled up in my hair.

Needless to say, I sprinted away from the hive hoping she would fly out, but she didn't. That's when I yanked out the elastic holding my hair together, and a lot of head shaking commenced. For the record, I think that should be categorized under "what not to do while beekeeping" because things only got worse from there.

During this whole ordeal, all I could think of (quite inappropriately) was the line from Yeats' poem "Brown Penny":
I am looped in the loops of her hair.
Actually, that's not quite true. Periodically, a plea flickered like a strobe light in my brain -- "For the love of mercy, please, not in the eye!"

In the end, I did get stung, right along the temple. It was a totally nasty wound that bled, turned red, and hurt like a ...
Beep! Please, excuse us for a moment. We are experiencing some attitudinal difficulties with this blogger.
And now back to our regular programming.
... After scraping out the stinger, the bee was still alive and buzzing in my hair. I tried releasing her, but she wouldn't go until I brushed her out. Although I now have some swelling and a vicious headache, she fared much worse, I'm sad to say. You can see her insides hanging out here.

So I'm quite curious about this incident as it's the second time I've been stung in the past five days. (Saturday morning, I got it in the thigh.) Both times, I was doing something I've done a hundred times over the summer with no ill consequences -- just standing/sitting still off to the side of the hive. I was wearing light colors both times. I wasn't sweaty or smelling funky either time. So why the sudden change? Is it the weather? Are bees more defensive when they sense that summer is winding down and autumn is about to start? Are they protecting themselves from would-be robbers? Or could it be the new queen? Could she have mated with drones that have provided less "less friendly" genetic material?

If anyone has any thoughts on this question, I would love to hear what you think.

P.S. A few hours have passed, and I thought I'd add an update on the sting. The swelling has spread over my forehead and down my nose alongside my right eye. It's not hugely noticeable, but it's enough to smooth things out. Not that I had any real lines, but now I have no lines at all. Hmmm... this is better than botox; it's beetox.

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