Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Sting from the Black Lagoon

Some people like to collect stamps, some prefer the gathering of signatures; many like to amass volumes of football cards, pressed flowers, shelves of their favourite authors, or posters of their favourite band. Personally, I collect bee stings. Stings on the hand, stings on the foot, stings on the ankle, stings on just about every bit of the anatomy you can possibly imagine. Want a sting? I've got stings aplenty. I file them in alphabetical order in a match box and show them to visitors and neighbours every morning.

Seems every day I go outside I collect another bee sting. Not all bee stings are the same, I've discovered; many will only hurt momentarily (though leave a lingering itchiness on your skin). One or two will throb for days on end and make you question the very meaning of existence. And some, well, some will turn you into a terrifying Mr Hyde who will terrify small children and old ladies and cause everyone else to smile awkwardly and anxiously when meeting you and for the rest of the time you are in their company, look like they're trying not to keep looking at you but looking at you anyway because you are just so fascinatingly horrible. You know the ones.

Bee stings! Oh yeah. I've had them!

1) Ankle bee stings. These ones hardly hurt at all. When we were working on the hive the other week, two snuck in between a wrinkle in my socks and my pants, and got me. While the effort was appreciated, unfortunately these failed to sting much at all. 5/10.

2) Wrist bee sting. In this one, the bees displayed impressive tenacity, waiting at some obscure point on my bee suit until I'd come inside and started to remove it, at which point they stung. This sting, too, failed to impress, and was quickly forgotten about. 5/10.

3) Beard stings. For weeks after working on a hive, the bees will be alert to any human working outside, and will deploy their most effective psychological tactic - flying in very rapid circles around a person's face and making them move very quickly on. This will continue essentially until the person has run back inside. Sometimes, of course, the person doesn't go inside fast enough, and the bees will just fling themselves at your face and get lost in your beard, and for another minute furiously buzz in a terrifying fashion near your ear. I've had, I think, three stings in this way? While psychologically incredibly effective - the anticipation, like in Hamlet, can be incredibly drawn out - the stings don't hurt much at all. (Side note, though: this is why beekeepers should grow a beard if they can) 7/10.

4) Sting on the tip of my finger I got once when trying to brush a bee out of my beard. This one hurt like buggery. The blood rushed to the tip of my finger and had nowhere else to go, making my finger throb for days on end. I could hardly even type anything out on the computer. Combining the psychological anticipation of the beard sting with a final surprise, this sting in the tail really has a sting in the tale. HAHAHA! Oh yeah, not funny at all. But still: this was a really impressive trick by the bees, and I haven't forgotten about it ever since. 8/10.

5) Sting on the nose. To do this, the bee actually flew INTO MY NOSE, which is horrible. Just imagine how squicked out you get when flies fling themselves by accident into your nose or your mouth; well, combine that squickiness with the realisation that the small insect in your olfactory organ may actually be going to sting you IN THE MIDDLE OF ONE OF YOUR BREATHING CANALS. But actually, the bee just put its head in my nose so they could sting me on the outside and it didn't hurt at all so while this sting combined fear and disgust with incredible effectiveness, I didn't mind it at all in the end. 7/10.

6) Sting on the forehead. When I was out in the garden near the hive one sunny afternoon just watching them go in and out. This one didn't seem to matter at all, at first; a dull throb in the forehead which quickly seemed to dissipate. However, after dinner, my face was feeling a little hot and I went to wash it and noticed my eyes were looking very strange. By the time I went to bed the skin around my eyes had bulged noticeably; in the morning there was so much bulging around, over and under my eyes that I could hardly open them at all. For the whole of the day after my eyes had narrowed to two little slits that I peered out of while lurching, zombie like, from place to place. Children burst into tears at my horripilating visage. Adults fleed from my gruesome presence. This was the sting that really delivered! 10/10

UPDATE! - Photo taken by the Baron after I got stung on the forehead.

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