Earlier this week, I set out on an assignment to talk with a young local beekeeper about his awesome hobby and to see his bees in action.
I was really excited about this opportunity, because I didn’t know much about honey bees.
I blame my lack of knowledge on the fact that I always pass bees up as angry, aggressive attackers. Who wants to learn more about that, right?
During my talk however, I learned my assumption might be wrong, and that in fact bees are clean, busy beings that only get mad when we come near their nest. In my head, I compared them to me. I’d only want to attack when an uninvited being came near my home, too. Relating to the bee put me at ease.
When it was time to get up close to photograph the interesting creatures, I felt a little nervous about the red pants I was sporting. I thought the color might make me look like a serious threat. I learned quickly after asking that black was actually the color they hate, because they associate it with the honey-hungry black bear. Unfortunately for me, I had paired those red pants with a black shirt. I felt a little freaked out, but it wasn’t enough to stop me from the assignment.
As we drove up to the spot where the hives were kept, my journalism adrenaline kicked in and I told myself, “I got this.” The bees were busy and focused on making honey anyway.
I watched the young beekeeper suit up into his white jacket and pull down netting over his face. It was as if he was going into battle. Obviously, my imagination gets the best of me. The beekeeper lit his smoker and bravely walked up to the bees not letting a single buzz bother him. I stood at a fair distance from the hives at first, but as I got into photo shoot motion and became more comfortable with my surroundings, my journalism instinct got the best of me and I slowly inched forward craving that one good shot I needed.
As I inched closer, the bees spotted me. They must have seen my black shirt and black camera with the crazy one eye-looking lens. A group rushed over to investigate and of course my first instinct was to swat at them. Fighting back with one free hand and camera in the other didn’t impress these bees and certainly didn’t scare them away.
Before I knew it, the bees were buzzing in the scarf around my neck, they were tangled in my hair and buzzing around my face. I freaked and ran from the scene when BAM! – a pinch of pain hit the inside of my left arm.
I yanked my scarf off and threw it to the ground as I hightailed it from the scene. I felt terrible leaving the young beekeeper and his mother at the hives. I was here to take their picture and now I was running away like a wimp. The bees wouldn’t let up as I tried to pull out the stinger in my arm and yank my fingers through my hair to release the bee stragglers.
The beekeeper’s mother, who was still in a swarm of bees at the hives yelled, “get in the car! drive, drive, drive!” I laugh out loud thinking back on it now. It was a crazy whirlwind moment in my life. When I dashed into the driver’s seat of the vehicle and tried to get a grip on my situation, a mortified thought crossed me as I realized what an idiot I must of looked like. I looked in the back of the vehicle at the mother’s two younger children nestled safely in the back, their eyes were as big as saucers and with quiet voices they asked, “are you OK?” Of course, I played it off like “oh, yea no big deal,” but when turned back around to look at myself in the rearview mirror I saw my hair tangled and sticking up everywhere and my face was beet red and sweaty from running.
The experience has been the most exciting I’ve had in a long time and beats any other reporter experience I’ve had yet. It was a little frightening at the time, but now as I sit safely at my desk I’m thrilled and proud I stepped outside my comfort zone. Showing off my “battle wound” to fellow reporters in the office was funny, too. I cherish the memento I took with me from the assignment.
I now have a deep appreciation for beekeepers, especially the one I hung out with this week. He told me he’s been stung too many times to count and he continues to dive back into “battle” with the bees. I’m nowhere near that brave.
Thank you beekeeper family for the experience. I truly enjoyed the ride and the memory I’ll continue to share!
BCR Staff Writer Goldie Currie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.