on Winning (part 1)
Return of the Bad-A Runner

I Don't Like Bees

I mean, I like what bees do. I don't ever swat one unless it's in my house. I like that they pollinate our flowers and fruit trees and vegetable plants. I like honey. But me, face to face with a bee? They freak me out. It's the way they dart and buzz, and the way their creepy legs dangle down limply when they're flying around. How  you're supposed to be able to hold very still when one's buzzing around you, so it doesn't get you, but it's so very hard not to run away screaming and flailing your arms. The way they're supposed to be able to smell your fear and to want to sting you because of it. And of course, that ominous stinger itself.

Honestly: I'd rather have a spider on me than a bee, and I am none-too-fond of spiders either.

I think my anti-bee stance comes from the time I got stung as a kid. The hapless bee was simply hanging out in a patch of flowering clover in our grass, and I stepped on it, and it stung me, of course. It took another thirty years or so before I learned that bee venom in the foot isn't the most painful place to be jabbed. That'd probably be the eyeball, or maybe the tongue?

Still, I count it as a blessing that, despite the bees smelling my fear whenever they are near me, it took about three decades before I was stung again. The second time happened during a hike last fall. Kendell, Jake, our friend James, and I were coming back down the path after reaching Squaw Peak. (You can see a layout about that hike here; just scroll down a bit.) Kendell was farther ahead on the trail, and then Jake, James, and me in the back. Someone's pack must have bumped against a bee hive because almost simultaneously both Jake and James were bellowing and flailing their arms and swatting at themselves, and as I watched and tried to figure out what the heck was going on, another bee got me, right in the neck. (Cue shocked entire-body flailing and a thoroughly embarrassing wail, all of it completely uncontrollable. I'm glad there are no hidden video cameras in nature.) I think mountain bees are more viscious than suburban bees because I had an enormous welt for two weeks after.

Today, I got to mow the lawn. I say "got to" because these days, it's become a privilege. I love mowing the lawn, but I've also got two adolescent boys who need to learn to work. Today, I insisted it was my turn. It was a great day for mowing the lawn—beautiful and warm after a week of rain. I put my headphones on and sang along to my music and mowed away, happy as anything. Until, that is, a bee flew up the leg of my running capris and stung me. Cue shocked entire-body flailing and a thoroughly embarrassing wail, luckily drowned out by the hum of the mower. Because, yeah: I totally kept mowing while flailing. Only—not so straight. Well, straight into my gorgeous purple iris, which have just blossomed. Hadjust blossomed. Now three of them are decimated by the lawn mower and my spazzy lack of control.

I just don't get the bee. The suicidal bee. I might have brushed its flower while I passed it with the mower. Perhaps the mower sound sent it into a frenzy of anguish. Maybe it was just an easily-annoyed individual. Not that I can't relate to that. But what did it accomplish besides killing itself in stinging me? Other than a red welt and some iris that look like a machete went a little haywire around them? Wouldn't it have been better to endure the drone of the mower and the swaying of the flower, as opposed to the other outcome which is, you know, death?

Bees. Not only do I not like them, I don't understand them.



I can't help but laugh, in spite of your pain. I do the same body-flailing thing, too, with bees--gave my friend quite a show one day as a huge one chased me down the block.

Another funny thing is, I saw Kendall mowing yesterday. Little did I know it was probably after your bee experience. I wonder how long after I drove by.

Sorry for your pain.

I am really trying to manage my fear level around bees, since I learned about their fear-o-sensors. What a pain!!

Melanie Bell

Ouch! It's been a long time since I've been stung, thank goodness! Sorry about your irises. I need to learn some control. My kids are so used to my blood-curdling screams, which are almost always due to spiders, giant dragonflies on my laundry room wall (strange, huh?), and other harmless creatures. Although a few weeks ago my screaming was due to our pet snake lying on the family room floor - I just about stepped on it! It took a lot of screaming to convince my 14yo that I actually needed him!

Becky K

Bees are just creepy. I do the crazy dance when one gets near me, too. It really is about the weird lifeless legs hanging down when they fly that makes them so icky.

Sorry about your sting! I can't believe it actually went in your pant leg. He obviously had time to escape, stupid suicidal bee.


my dad and brother just became bee-keepers last year. Makes it a little stressful when we go to their house but they insist if the bees hive is in your yard they fly AWAY to gather nectar/pollen. So far- so good. My neighbor just put in a hive next door (well... back door next door) I'll let you know how that goes.

knock on wood* never been stung* however have done many freak out dances when one was close.


Oh dear, poor Amy. I laughed, but not only because of the funny way you have conveyed this episode, but also from relief it wasn't me!

Pat Passamonte

The bee probably wasn't very fond of you either! :) Maybe he got disoriented from the mower noise and flew up your pant leg by accident, then decided you were trying to trap him, and he'd rather die than be taken prisoner? Just a thought! :)

Kim D

I'm sorry you got stung - I know how it hurts. But maybe it wasn't a bee? I know you don't want to hear this, but bees die if they sting you, so they are very reluctant to sting. I've actually held bumble bees in my hand and had honeybees light on me and then fly away. Yellow jackets, which some folks think are bees, are happy to sting because they can do it again. They are the ones that dart around crazily. Bees tend to move more lazily. I've been stung twice in the last few years, both time by wasps or yellow jackets, and both times in a garden. One landed on my leg just as I was putting my hand down to brace myself and one flew down the back of my shirt. I think wasps are creepy and I hate them, but I love bees. I'm sorry.

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