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Old as dirt. Twice as gritty.

To bee or not to bee

 
The other day a hornet flew into my car as I sat waiting for the kid at school. Thinking that it would exit the same way it entered, I ignored it, and continued with my iPod game of rummy. However, despite two fully-open windows, the hornet managed to get lost in the windshield area and could not find its way out of the car. It went from casually fumbling around to storming back and forth in a towering fury once it realized it was too stupid to escape. It became loud. Then louder. It became full of hate, too, after which it started to look for me, thinking that I was probably laughing at it for being so stupid. It was clear that it was in blame-game mode, and I was going to be the blamee, so I got out of the car and told it, “Fine. The car is yours. We can walk home.” For whatever reason, ownership of the car proved too much for it, because suddenly it was able to find the exit.
 
Honey bees and bumblebees are not a problem in this regard. If a honey bee or bumble flies into a car it will usually just buzz around, mildly worried, now and then asking politely to be let out. If you don’t let it out, it will go to the back of your car, lie down on that impossible-to-get-at shelf area under the back window, and quietly die. Whereas a hornet dedicates its life to finding humans to sting, a honey bee only stings if it feels threatened, and if it’s a bumblebee, even feeling threatened usually isn’t enough to make it sting. Bumbles are a joy, they are sweet and docile, you can hold an injured one in your hand and pat it on its little bee-head (not recommended, but in the right circumstances, you can do it) (no, not just when they’re dead,  wise-guy).
 
We had a colony of bumblebees living just outside the house a couple of years back. The queen, the biggest and most bobbly creature imaginable, had arrived one day, weaving and staggering about, house-hunting, it turns out, and she soon found shelter in our little birdhouse parked just outside the front door. She liked the accommodations, and quickly settled in. Soon we had hundreds of bumblebee tenants. Having them around was lovely, we were able to watch them as they went about doing their bee-thing. We groaned at the many head injuries they sustained as they came and went through the birdhouse hole, which was big enough for chickadees to fly in and out without issue but was not big enough for a bumblebee to negotiate without incurring crashes and head bumps. Some would miss the hole and fly into the wall, then crash to the ground, stunned, and we’d have to scoop them up and manually place them back inside to recover. Bumps and bee-brain concussions aside, the bees stayed around for the season. They completely ignored us, even if we were inches from the birdhouse door, although sometimes there’d be a lazy bumble lounging by the opening, watching us as we walked by. Sadly, they were eventually all killed off by the virus that is killing so many of our honey bees and bumblebees. I’m still surprised at how much it hurt to see them die off in such an unnatural way. And I still miss them.
 

Hornets aren’t friendly like that. They hate you before they’ve even met you, and for years I was so troubled by such unreasoning hatred that I would go into instant panic mode at the very sight of the things, dropping whatever I was doing and running for cover. I would make high-pitched squealing noises reminiscent of scenes in the movie ‘Deliverance’. My brother-in-law thought my antics were ridiculous, and whereas I didn’t disagree with him, my unease grew exponentially when he was stung in the middle of reassuring me that ignoring them was the best way not to be stung. That was during an August camping trip. Camping in August is always a bad idea for humans, because August is the month when hornets like to go camping, and they prefer to have the campgrounds to themselves. They have ways to make it happen, too. 

 
I’m happy to say, though, that meditation has given me a new Zen-like calm about such things. After all, my calm mind assures me, hornets are just little bitty bugs, and fairly stupid ones at that, whereas I am a much larger thinking human equipped with hands to squash the little bastards if they push their luck.
 
The old hornet/Jo pattern went something like this: 
 
> hornet buzzed at me
> went into blind panic, made strange noises, surrendered all possessions, jumped out of moving vehicle if required
 
The new pattern, much better, goes more like this: 
 
> hornet buzzes at me
> remain calm 
> buzz
> remain calm 
> BUZZ
> remain calm
> BUZZ BUZZ BUZZZZZZZZZ
> remain calm
> BUZZZZZZZZZZZZ, now in fury-mode, heat-seeking radar engaged, and it spots me
> remain calm, remain quiet, surrender all possessions, jump out of moving vehicle if required
 
Comic/rapper Zach Sherwin perfectly describes this State of Bee in this video. I’m sure he mean hornets, not honey bees or bumblebees.


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About the Author

This bio was written by Jo Slade. As you can see she has written about herself in the third person. What normal person would do that? They just wouldn't. Who knows how many other persons might be involved in this thing, a second person? Another third? I worry about it. I - she - we - can't even keep it straight, this paragraph is a damn mess, there are persons all over the place. Round 'em up and shoot 'em. That's what I'd do, and by golly I think that's what Jo Slade would do as well.

Biographic nutshell: Jo has been messing around with words for a long time. Sometimes she'll just say words instead of writing them, it saves on paper.

This column: The columns that will appear here are of a highly serious and scholarly nature, therefore it is advised that you keep a dictionary and ponderous thoughts nearby.

If, after reading the column, you find yourself tossing and turning at night, burning with the need to email me, just do it. I answer to [email protected]




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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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