Friday, September 13, 2013

Bees and Neighbors

The crash of the kitchen door yesterday was followed by angry accusatory wailing from a 7-year old who lives across the street.
"Your bee stung me!!!"
When I was a kid, my dad put mud on stings, but I was already in the kitchen, so I used a paste of baking soda and vinegar to draw out/neutralize the poison.

While I worked on my "patient," I ascertained that he and my son had been nowhere near the bees. My son's friend was stung while playing on the swings in the backyard. Unfortunately, the playset has been a favorite spot  this year for wasps building nests. We've already removed about four nests this summer. The real clincher, of course, was that there was no stinger in the wound, which I showed him.

 I decided to take the opportunity to do a little honeybee PR. I explained that:

  • He was stung by a wasp and not by "my bees."
  • Wasps do not have barbed stingers, but honeybees do. This fact, btw, was a source of endless fascination. He had all kinds of questions about what happens to bees after the stinger comes out.
  • Bees don't want to sting people because they die afterward. So bees attack only if people are bothering their hives, but wasps can sting over and over, so they can be more aggressive.
After a few minutes, he exclaimed that the vinegar and baking soda "felt great" and his ankle no longer hurt. (Another confirmation that the damage was done by a wasp because bee stings hurt like mad!) So I wiped the paste off, but I still applied some Benadryl cream and a bag of ice for the swelling. I also called his mom to explain the situation and how I had treated, to ask if she would like me to give him a Tylenol, and to confirm that he didn't have any allergies. Fortunately, she was very cool about it. 

Afterward, I went outside to check the playground. Sure enough, I found a wasp nest in the the playground area. There is a platform with a slide, and the nest was right under the platform. Normally we don't use anything poisonous or toxic in the yard (especially around the bees), but I'm also a mom, and anything that can hurt my babies must die. So the nest got a huge blast of wasp killer, and I didn't feel the slightest bit guilty about it.

When our neighbor kid left, I sent him home with the rest of the tube of Benadryl. And I called again later just to check on his progress and let his mom know that I did find and destroy the nest. She said he was fine and that she appreciated the Benadryl since she didn't have any. It was all good.

The event has really highlighted for me the importance of maintaining good will with the neighbors. Even though my bees were in no way involved in this incident, I can see how easy it is to blame them when someone gets stung by something. While my neighbor across the street is just overall very cool and awesome, I don't think that it hurts to do anything and everything that one can to defuse potential situations before they occur.

Do you have bees? Have you encountered any sticky situations with the neighbors? I'm really interested in hearing what happened and how you dealt with it.


  1. Matt again from Western Mass - I haven't had anyone stung, but I did have a swarm land in my neighbors raspberry patch....She stood about 100 feet or so away while I collected them. I tried to explain that the raspberry thorns were much more dangerous than swarming bees but no dice lol...she was cool though!

    1. LOL! We used to have wild raspberries in our yard before we moved, and I'm definitely in agreement with you. I'll take a swarm of bees over thorns any day!


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