Beware the Bees of Sunday

I am “kind and broad-minded.”  So says the fortune cookie that came with last night’s Thai takeout.  The provenance is shaky at best (Thai food & fortune cookies?), and it’s not really a fortune, but I’ll take the compliment and answer, “Thank you, I try to be.”

I’m expecting a call from the Ducati dealer any moment now, giving me an estimate on getting the project bike running again.  The price will no doubt test my broad-mindedness.  And yes, now that you mention it, it is kind of me to fix up that old Duck for my daughter.

A more useful cookie would have come my way on Saturday and said “Beware the Ides of March,” except the last three words would have been scratched out and replaced with “Bees of Sunday.”

I went out with my hashing group Sunday morning for a little trail through the desert south of Udall Park in Tucson, and found myself back by an old landfill the city of Tucson is slowly trying to reclaim, several hundred fenced off acres with some old concrete pilings along the northwest corner.  We’ve done trails in this area before (I should know, I’ve set many of them), and the last few times we’ve been by those pilings we heard bees buzzing and knew there was a hive nearby.  Sunday morning I’d gotten separated from the pack and was by myself, walking and daydreaming, when I looked up, saw where I was, and remembered the bees.  And then there they were, just one or two at first, then lots and lots of them flying all around me, and suddenly I was stung, once, twice, three times: forehead, ear, left forearm.

They say all wild bees in Arizona are killer bees now, mixed in with that Africanized strain everyone was so worried about years ago.  Well, our worries were justified.  I immediately remembered reading about a maintenance worker who was killed by them when he came upon a hive while working on the roof of a Ramada Inn not half a mile from where I was.  All I could think to do was to stay calm and try to get away from the area as quickly as I could, without making sudden movements or batting at the bees with my hands.  I did a quick one-eighty and walked away as fast as I dared, keeping my arms still at my side.  The bees kept flying around my face and arms, getting up under my hat and buzzing by my ears, even landing on them, and I felt many more landing on the back of my t-shirt.  They stayed with me for a quarter of a mile, only leaving when I got back to the ball fields in the developed area of the park.

Once I was out of danger I pulled out my cell phone and called one of my friends in the pack, still on trail.  They must have walked by the hive moments before I was attacked, and I wanted to make sure everyone was okay.  They were, and not one of them even knew there were bees in that area.  Now that I think about it, I suspect the bees were just doing their own thing when the pack walked through and stirred them up.  And then I came along … Paul the target.

Based on what I read about killer bee attacks in and around Tucson, I got off incredibly easy.  By rights I should have been stung hundreds of times.  Some people say the best thing to do is to run away as fast as one can.  I can’t run for shit any more, so I chose to walk.  Resisting the urge to flail, as so many of us do when attacked by bees, undoubtably helped, but they also say killer bees really start to attack when they smell their friends stinging and dying, and three of their buds had just committed suicide by stinging me, so why they let me go is a total mystery.  Well, no, actually … they didn’t let me go, did they?  No, they stayed with me for a quarter of a mile, flying around me and even landing on me, almost as if they were escorting me away from their hive, prepared to attack the entire time.

Maybe they let me off because they sensed my kindly broad-mindedness.  Maybe these bees were Democrats.  Maybe I’ll grow gossamer wings and fly to the Moon.

You know what?  I’m lucky to be here, sitting comfortably in my home, writing on my blog.  You won’t catch me back in that corner of the desert again!

© 2012, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.


One thought on “Beware the Bees of Sunday

  • Killer bees? Truly terrifying story. Glad you were able to keep your wits about you. I would have been lying on the ground screaming in hysteria. Nicely constructed column.

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