Bees are your friend. If you see a bee, try to cut it some slack.
It may look threatening to you, but bees these days are going through a really rough patch. Entire colonies are dying and researchers don’t know why. There’s lots of speculation that includes weather changes, genetically modified plants or perhaps a mite or virus. But no solid answers. And no bees means no fruit, flowers and, of course, no honey. It’s not a good thing.
I have been a fan of bees for some time. When a bee flies in the office window, I am often the only one in the room who isn’t horrified. I even have a really swell bee costume that I have worn on more than one occasion.
I understand those of you who are dangerously allergic to bee stings. That is quite a different story and for you, the bee might as well be packing a large, hair-trigger gun.
I’m not really sure why bees don’t trouble me. It may have been helped by having a biologist brother who was afraid of nothing. He once asked me to help catch his pet tarantula, and I did.
It was perhaps solidified by being married to an amateur apiarist who has kept hives and discussed them with me at length. I found, when it comes to bees, knowledge is quite soothing. Generally speaking, your average bee on the street is not cruising the street corners like a gang member, looking for something to sting. Its primary reason to sting is to protect its hive, so unless you are bashing about near bee central, your risk is low.
The problem comes if you step, lean or sit upon them. There’s the bee just putting in a day’s work in the low clover when some clumsy, barefooted child comes down atop it. You may be in pain, but the bee really doesn’t have time before it heads for bee heaven to take any vindictive pleasure in the fact that it stung you.
So, when a bee thoughtlessly flies in through an open window, I just know it wants to be back outside as much as we want it there. Generally, just nudging it in the right direction with a manila folder makes me a hero. Everything should be that easy.
I should probably admit here that my courage wavered not long ago when a swarm of bees took a rest stop in the tree above my workout class. While they were in a ball, catching their breath, it was fine. When they flew away, it was fine. When they flew back again, it was considerably less fine. I lay there mid sit-up thinking they would move on until a couple of them collided with my hair. The alleged bee lady made haste in the opposite direction.
I also must cop to the fact that I never visited my husband’s hives. That’s where bees get cranky. I couldn’t figure out a way to tell them that I am not the one who wanted their honey. Bringing large, incredibly drippy, sticky, messy blocks of honeycomb into my kitchen and boiling them down makes my husband giddy. It makes me want jam.
But the current plight of our honeybees makes me even more determined to get that bee zinging around the office back on its track to the nearest flower.
It has its pollination job to do. The last thing we need is to have it hanging around the office water cooler.
Jean Gillette is the Community News editor for The Coast News Group. As a journalist, she primarily worked in San Clemente and Los Angeles. She has been with the Coast News for 20 years and lives in La Costa.