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.