Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.
emo_snal

It's all in your head.

July 2nd, 2009 -- In the rolling golden hills of Riverside County, California, my boss parks the pick-up truck in the middle of a large square of which rows of beehives make three sides. Upon opening the door the oven-like heat of Riverside County immediately hits us. I stretch after the long car ride, but one doesn't want to look idle for more than a few seconds with my high strung boss around, so I walk to one end of the rows of beehives and start walking along the row looking at the entrances. This is the first thing I always do, a quick look at all the hives to see if any have no activity, a pile of dead bees in front, or something similarly alarming.
   A bee stings me in the hand, but I casually scrape out the stinger with my thumbnail as I continue walking. The hives are stacks of boxes painted either white or pastel blue. The blue had originally been a mistake, having bought cheap paint from the "oops" bin at the hardware store we had only found out when we were ready to paint that it was blue. We decided to go with it, and as a consequence, the bee yards now rather reemble a smurf village. Another be or two stings my on the arm as I walk along the second side. So far everything is good, all the hives are buzzing busily with no dead hives.
   Any time a bee stings you, it releases not just more of the "alarm" pheremone, but the stinger that is stuck in you like a harpoon is emitting a "sting here" pheremone. I always picture it like some scene from a war film where they've managed to mark a target for airstrike with flares. As such, the number of stings you receive tends to go up exponentially as each additional sting encourages more. As I reach the end of the second line of hives I'm hving to constantly scratch off stings, it's becoming quite a nuisance. So I decide it's time to put on some protective gear. I look towards the truck, upon which I will find the suits, but it is not there. My boss has evidentally driven down to where there's a water pump at the other corner of the property, to get water for the bees.
   No worries. I calmly start walking towards the middle of the square. Walking at a brisk pace is usually sufficient to keep the bees mainly behind you. I've never seen any research on it but anecdotal evidence and my own observations tends to indicate bees are more likely to become agitated if you lose your calm. Certainly swinging arms wildly trying to swat bees is entirely ineffective and does seem to convince surrouding bees that you truly deserve to be stung. If I were to run I might trip and hurt myself, but moreover if seen by my boss I would bring professional shame upon myself worse than any amount of bee stings. So I calmly walk to the middle of the square, while calmly but quickly scraping off what stings I do receive. When I get to the middle and my boss has not yet returned, I commence walking in a broad circle to continue to leave the bees mainly behind me.

   And then it happens.



   Something that had never happened to me before.

   You see, it turns out, bees fit perfectly inside your ear canal. Suddenly I can hear every bristly hair of a bee, as well as the papery crackle of its wings, the scrape of its six legs against the interior of my ear. And of course, I can also feel six little scrabbling legs. The sound of anything else in my right ear is suddenly obstructed as if I had water in my ear.
   My professional calm is suddenly cracked by this psycological terror. There is a bee in my head! It is traveling inward towards my brain. For a moment I'm unable to think through it being stopped by my eardrum or whatever, I just know there is a large insect in my head.. I think there's something deeply subconciously terrifying about the buzzing of angry bees. Otherwise brave people find themselves running in terror from a single bee. As a beekeeper you train yourself to overcome this gut reaction ... but when the bee is actually inside your head it's all of a sudden once again not something you've prepared yourself for.
   There wasn't enough room to get my fingers in my ear and pull the bee out. I felt helpless to remove this terror boring into my brain. I imagined it stinging me inside my ear, thus dying in there are my ear swelled up around it. That seems like something that could cause some horrific infection, possibly requiring surgery.
   Because it felt a bit like water in my ear Ii tried to do what I would do about water in my ear -- I tilted my head so that side was towards the ground and hopped up and down on one foot. The bee continued to scrabble in my ear, its hair and wings making crinkly cellophane noises in my head. It didnt' want to be there either but it couldnt' turn around, and it's six little legs gave it more than enough purchase to note be knocked out of my ear.
   After a vigorous hopping proved quite ineffective, I had to stop for a moment and try to clear my head. Clear my head of the thoughts anyway, so I could maybe proceed to clear it of physical bees. What did I know about bee behavior that could solve this problem? Other bees buzzed angrily around me but I by now didn't notice them at all. Bees usually climb upwards if they are stuck somewhere. So I resolved to do the counter-intuitive thing. I stood perfectly still and tilted my head so the bee-ear was upward. I tried to relax my jaw and other face muscles, so the muscles around my ear wouldn't be constricted. And I stood there, motionless and as relaxed as I could make myself. Bees droned around me like little warplanes. They stung my on the arms, they stung my on the cheeks. I didn't scrape them out. I didn't swat at them. I didn't clench my jaw. I closed my eyes and took deep calming breaths.
   this is like some fucked up zen exercise I thought to myself, picturing a scrawny bearded zen master telling me to be calm as bees sting me. Miraculously, I felt the bee backing itself out of me ear. up, up, and it was out! It flew off much to its own relief no doubt. I looked around, the truck was trundling back up the hill. I commenced walking in broad circles.

   All the rest of the day I could still feel those six little legs scrabbling in my ear.

Tags: beekeeping, honeybees, lj idol entry
Subscribe

  • Hands Aloft to Squirrel!

    " HANDS ALOFT TO SQUIRREL!!!" bellows the captain, a large fellow with a huge fiery red beard. With a quick glance aloft hands note that "George"…

  • The Journey Home

    Monday -- after much procrastination I finally left the boat and hitched a ride into Davis. There I ate my favourite dish in the entire world…

  • Off the Boat

    Sunset October 4th 201 days, 130 days of "sea time," 4 captains, and 8 cooks later, after much procrastination I finally left the boat this…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 28 comments
Previous
← Ctrl ← Alt
Next
Ctrl → Alt →
Previous
← Ctrl ← Alt
Next
Ctrl → Alt →

  • Hands Aloft to Squirrel!

    " HANDS ALOFT TO SQUIRREL!!!" bellows the captain, a large fellow with a huge fiery red beard. With a quick glance aloft hands note that "George"…

  • The Journey Home

    Monday -- after much procrastination I finally left the boat and hitched a ride into Davis. There I ate my favourite dish in the entire world…

  • Off the Boat

    Sunset October 4th 201 days, 130 days of "sea time," 4 captains, and 8 cooks later, after much procrastination I finally left the boat this…