A Message from the Bees

Last week I did a very bad thing.

I let fear get the best of me.

But I’m not sure what else I would have done, because I was protecting my family and the dog.

Still, I felt deep sorrow. And I got reprimanded by the bees the following day.

So, this is what happened…

My husband came in after mowing the lawn and said he had gotten stung by a bee (I’m using the generic term bee here for hornets, wasps, bees, etc., unless otherwise more specific).

The following day, I was playing ball with Buddy, my dog, and he all of a sudden started leaping in the air and biting at what I realized were bees. “Inside, Buddy!” I exclaimed, and we both ran into the house. The bees didn’t follow us. But my first thought was that my grandkids would be here in a couple of weeks, and how would I keep them out of that part of the yard? And the dog, too. I wasn’t even sure exactly where the nest was located.

The actual hive

We have an entomologist for an exterminator. He knows his bugs. And he uses the least invasive methods to protect our house (I didn’t use one for years, until I saw a bunch of carpenter ant damage when we replaced some siding, so I searched for an exterminator who would respect my request for organic-type pest controls.). I called him and he came out early in the morning the next day. I told him I thought there was a yellow-jacket ground nest but that I had walked around gingerly after the bees had settled down from the dog encounter and couldn’t find it. (Also, yellow jackets are more aggressive than these bees were, so I found the whole thing confusing. Who were these bees and where was their nest?) The bug guy found it within 5 minutes. It turns out it wasn’t in the ground, it was behind a wooden “wall” we put up in front of our septic pipe to hide it. And when I asked him what kind of bee created it he replied “bumble bees.” When he saw that my face fell, he added that there are lots of varieties of them (I hadn’t known that). But I do know that bumble bees aren’t an aggressive bee, and that they were just protecting their home. And these were small bumble bees. Around the size of a honey bee.

I want to mention that the last time I was stung by a bee was a few years back, and it was a white-tailed wasp (a.k.a. bald-faced hornet). I, truthfully, don’t know the difference between wasps, hornets, and their ilk. But I know this kind of hornet/wasp is particularly aggressive. And they had built a nest in a nearby tree. I used to get stung all the time as a kid. But now I garden among the bees as they gather pollen from the flowers. We leave each other alone. That is, until the day after the bumble bee nest was destroyed.

I was in the garden, working around the oregano, which was in full flower. There were a few bees, but they usually work around me and I, them. All of a sudden, a small bee landed on my finger. I tried to shake him off but he promptly rounded his little butt and stung me. Then, I looked down and there was what I call a hornet (it might be a yellow jacket) on my pant leg. I tried to shake him off but he was there to stay. Oh dear, I thought, I’m going to get a second sting. I went quickly towards the house, and at some point between the garden and the back door, the hornet left my leg. Without stinging me, thankfully.

I went inside, made a baking soda paste, and put it on my stung finger. Baking soda paste is magical for bee stings. It immediately takes the sting away. While doing this, I thought, “Wow, I think the bees are trying to tell me something. They’re mad, and I did bad in their eyes.” So I went back outside. And I stood on my back porch and said something like this:

“I’m sorry!”

“I was just trying to protect my home as you protect yours.”

“You have so many places to build nests on this property. But please, not in my yard or near the house.”

“But I’m really sorry, and I feel terrible about the bumble bees.”

This is animism. This is magical, in my eyes. The bees communicated to me in a way I could understand. (Especially because two different types of bees brought the message. So that I would realize this was a special mission.) They were not happy with me, and I don’t blame them. But I’m hoping that what I said could be understood by them. Perhaps destroying the nest was my communication. But I hope they also took in my sorrow and reasoning in response to their communication.

I want to give them an offering to make amends. Someone suggested planting a pollinator plant at the perimeter of my yard, outside of the area where I don’t want them to build a nest. I think that’s a terrific idea, and I was already planning on adding more native flowering plants to the edge of my yard this fall. I will be thinking of the bees as I do so.

To give you a better understanding of how I struggled with my decision to bring in the bug guy, I leave you with this post.


  • Linda Shelales

    Surely we are spirit sisters! I take any offense to bees personally too! But when they’re stinging, it IS instinctive to protect ourselves by whatever means necessary. I understand your sense of sorrow &, yes, guilt for doing what you had to do. Just remember that you are more loving, respectful & considerate of these neighbors of ours than many in this world! I just wrote about this in my memoir while describing my youthful ‘if you’re in my house & you’re DONE!’ attitude toward ants & spiders, back when we first moved into our newly built house in 1970! I’m wiser & kinder now. I actually bring the little buggers (see what I did there) outside when they wander in, & we have a talk on the way out! Where I advise them not to return. So HELP me it works!

    • A

      I love you, Linda. Your sweet ways, your sense of humor, and that life brought us together. Thank for making me feel just a little bit better for my human moment.

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