Let me tell you: I am obsessed with whole concept of bee suits.
Last Saturday was bee day for the Mount Diablo Beekeepers Association, and 200 of its members gathered in a hive-filled backyard to show us newbies how beekeeping is done.
I’m not *too* scared of being stung, but then again, I haven’t actually had the pleasure since I was a little girl. More out of surprise than pain, I strongly suspect I’d yell and drop whatever I was holding and start to swat on instinct. So to prevent embarrassment and what surely would be many subsequent stings, I went head-to-toe bee suit.
Here’s the thing though: there were people who weren’t wearing suits at all– Young men, old men, young women, old women, these two girls who couldn’t have been more than about eight years old– I kept looking at them and trying to figure out what they all had in common.
Look for anything hard enough and you find it, but I swear: the beekeeper whose hive-opening preamble mocked us for our veils and inexperience got stung and stung like you’ve never seen. Across the yard, his colleague quietly ripped apart a hive and a half in a tee-shirt and baseball cap– and if he got stung, we never saw sign of it. And those two little girls stood by their dad right next to that angry little birdhouse hive, and didn’t get stung once. I don’t understand it, but I can absolutely romanticize it.
Fully adult, I still ascribe beasts the power to recognize human virtue and wield favor accordingly. It’s, you know, like friendship with wolves– decidedly more fairytale than fact, but still irresistable like you can’t believe. I suspect that, oversimplified, the secret is some kind of confidence that doesn’t come at the expense of respect. I want so badly to learn that, but I find I can’t just will away fear or my swat-and-run instinct.
Maybe you need to be stung 10 times or 100 times before you can really grow new convictions. My Bill thinks stinging is irrelevant and the secret is knowledge, not convictions: simply knowing what bees do when they’re about to sting you, and knowing what to do to stop them. Smarts and experience: no virtue required.
In the meantime, suits have their advantages: Those bees were mad, mad, mad– there was noise and the possibility of all kinds of unpleasantness going on on the other side of my hat and veil, but I felt wonderfully eye-of-the storm secure. So while I acquire whatever it takes to become a little old lady with a long little braid whom bees do not sting, there is safety in the meantime and all its consolations.