As everyone has probably guessed, I like animals. Animals are pretty cool. I enjoy them and I have a lot of respect for their place in our world. That being said, I also have a pretty healthy dose of wariness when it comes to certain animals who, on occasion, present less than benevolent faces to the world.
Take bees, for instance. When I was in high school, I remember talking to my father on the phone one afternoon about a strange buzzing noise that I couldn’t figure out the source of. “It’s so weird, Dad,” I said, “it almost sounds like bees.” And as I said that, I wandered into the kitchen, where they had that old school 80’s recessed panel lighting, and looked up. The other side of the lighting panel was crawling with bees.
That was fun. Especially since we had to spend the night in the house before the bee people could come out to attend to us. “Eh, they go dormant at night,” the guy told us. “You’ll be fine.” You try going to sleep while staring across the room at a vent full of bees hoping he was right.
That was in the early 90s, however, when killer bees- excuse me, Africanized bees- were just a distant worry, a horror film plot. It’s different these days. Just a couple of weeks ago, a construction worker in Las Vegas was critically injured when he disrupted a nest on the job. And not 10 days ago, a family quite close to my area was attacked by an Africanized bee swarm. That was pretty worrisome.
So keeping that in mind, let’s recap my Saturday, shall we? I was in the driveway, buckling my kids into the car for a trip to the park. My husband was in the side yard watering the plants. I heard a low hum, almost like a downed electrical line. But it got louder, and buzzier, very quickly. I paused, getting a sinking feeling as I realized what I was hearing.
As I did so, my husband yelled, “BEES! GET IN THE CAR!” By now the buzzing was extremely loud, filling the air. I slammed the back door and dove into the car, as my husband raced over to the other side to do the same. As we sat in the car panting, an enormous swarm swooped directly over us, passing the cars, over the grass, and down the hill. My husband, who wasn’t aware of the local attack, was laughing in a relieved way. I was just sitting there, shaking, so unbelievably grateful that nothing happened and simultaneously wondering at the odds that a huge swarm would come right over us, at the exact moment we were in the driveway.
I have no way of knowing if it was a swarm of Africanized bees or the more docile European bees. Both are in the area. I’ve seen many bee stings in the clinic, but no Africanized bee attacks- mostly over curious dogs getting one sting in the nose, and having an allergic reaction. I worry that this will change soon, though.
I’ve got plenty of tricks for dealing with aggressive domestic animals, and also learned over the years that you are supposed to confront mountain lions, poke a shark in the eye, and shuffle your feet in the water to avoid stingrays. I like to be prepared. No idea what to do about a killer bee swarm, though. The reports out there seem to indicate that if you are unfortunate enough to get attacked, you’re kind of stuck. I’d laugh at that horrible pun, but to be honest I’m still too traumatized to bee funny. Just thinking about it makes me break out in hives.