The thing about beekeeping is, it involves bees. Which involves being stung on occasion; not often, but more than the number one would be prefer to be stung at all, which is none.
Which is why, depending on your beekeeping style and your bees, we cloak up. Some people go bare-chested and figure, hell, getting stung is just what happens. Others go bare-handed but wear the suit, because the gloves are clumsy. But after getting stung several times by a hive of very mean bees last year, Gini and I switched to gloves. It’s just too much trouble to get stung on the hands when your job is typing and your main exercise is biking, where you rest a significant portion of your weight on your hands.
So when I got into the hive yesterday, I put on the gloves, knowing this was going to be a very quick operation. The new hive (of much nicer bees) has expanded, and needs space. So all I was going to do was to pop the top of the hive, put on a second deep, and leave. Simple as that.
Except there were two problems.
First, the hive was covered in bees. Which I wasn’t expecting. Generally, the bees stay on the insides of the hives, but when there’s a lot of them and it’s hot outside, they congregate under the shade. Which meant that clustered underneath the lip of the lid were several bees.
Second, because I’d cleaned up the garage and put all the beekeeping equipment where the animals could get at it, the gloves actually looked like this:
Yes, I’d seen the chipmunks running in and out of the garage before, and thought them adorable. But apparently, the propolis and honey residue on the fingertips of the gloves was very appealing,because they literally ate nothing else. The backs of the gloves? Perfectly fine. And who the hell thinks to check whether their gloves had been gnawed by chipmunks? (The glove on the left, presented for comparison of how bad it could have been, was sadly Gini’s. I wish the chipmunks had eaten my gloves that thoroughly; this, I would have noticed.)
So when I went to lift the lid of the box, my first sign that something was wrong was a feeling like hey, I’ve been stung. How the hell could that happen? I’m wearing gloves!
And then I bring up my hands and see that my fingertips are swarming with bees.
This is not a moment of great pride for me, because I saw the bees that stung me, and they were all like what the hell, bro? Bees don’t like to sting. But here, in ignorance and confusion, I’d decided to shove my bare hands among them to crush them, and they’d stung reflexively, like a frat boy punching some kid who stole his beer. They seemed baffled as I frantically shook them off, wondering what the hell had happened to them.
I ran into the garage, my right ring finger with at least three stingers in it, to brush it off. And get ice. And then, curse an awful lot. Because this wasn’t the bees’ fault.
It was the chipmunks. Chipmunks ripped my flesh. I can honestly say now, “I got stung because of chipmunks.” This is A Thing. It is true. And it is ineffably weird.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.