Thursday, July 5, 2012

We went forth on the Fifth of July 2012, the sixteenth day of summer. 78 days for you to sally forth upon summer plans. Today is the day of bees.

I am admiring the bees collecting nutrients from the milkweed flowers, growing in the accidental garden of duneland plants below my second floor window. The bees might be the European Honey Bee type, and thus would be collecting nectar for energy and honey, the pollen for protein and to feed larvae. Some species of bees focus on pollen, and these species are the best pollinators. My nose and eyes gather pollen all too well, and my eyes are always watery and eye mucus. I have to wonder what kind of honey taste comes from nectar gathered from milkweed blossoms? The milkweed nectar season has almost approached its completion. One stand of milkweeds near my home has nascent pods, about an inch in length. Our summer draws apace. Pay attention now. Pay attention now. Life is passing very quickly now.
Among my many allergies, and I am betting people with Rheumatoid Arthritis have a list of allergies, I am allergic to the sting of bees. A bee sting isn't enough to stop my heart, or so I think so now from old experience, but a sting causes abnormal swelling around the sting spot. I am remembering a summer on the farm in Burns Township, Shiawassee County, Michigan. My brothers and sister didn't see our cousins from our Uncle T often. We barely knew them. One day, he called my mother and asked if the three could stay out on the farm for a week. So I truly wanted to impress the boys, and we walked down to the shores of Euler Lake, down to a cove where I had fishing privileges.
I didn't have any bait, and I saw a bee settle on a berry, on a bush I knew as the "Doll's Eye" bush. So I attempted to catch it between my palms and the bee stung. I thought if I pinched it quickly enough, I would avoid its stinger. Why would a fish take a bee, anyways? Kingbirds and mockingbirds seek them out as food, but would a large mouth bass? A type of wasp called the Beewolf preys on bees, taking them home and laying eggs on their bodies. The larvae eat the bee as its first meal.
It stung, and my right hand began to swell and the swelling balloned my hand and lower arm. We all piled in the station wagon and we drove to the emergency room at Owosso's Memorial Hospital. My father was represented by the United Auto Workers, and employees represented by the UAW had health plans with unbelievable access to medicine. My mom never had to hesitate to take a kid in for examination, unable to make a co-pay, because no clerk ever asked for one. No money changed hands at the office. I think the Doctor pulled the stinger, gave her a prescription, and told her to put mead tenderizer on the stnnger wound. Was it benedryl he prescribed? It was all so long ago.
I am sure people have a fetish for being stung by bees. It hurts at first, but then an anesthetic calm emits from the sting, a venom effect. The sting actually started to feel good in a funny way. Apitoxin, bee venom, has anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory effects, and has been used to reduce rheumatism. I am almost willing to try a few bee stings on the fingers of my left and right hands.
Michael Moore made a career out of mocking imaginary terrors, and the Killer Bees became one of his first subjects of mockery. The African Bees never quite made it all the way to Michigan, just as Communism in Mexico and Central America never quite made it north of the Texans. Now, we count our empty hives and wonder if our local bees could use some African vigor. I was talking with a fellow who drops off fresh honey for a waitress who works at Turks Inn on Nunica, Michigan. He still has plenty of hives to ship around the United States. I talked to him when he had his hives in California, pollinating almond groves. He was notcing how often his colonies would lose their queens, forcing a re-queening. It is part of the bee keepers art to know how and when to re-queen a hive, but this process was occuring without his intervention. I forgot his name after I learned the waitress's name for him: honey-bee.
Queen and Requeen means bee keeping is similar to a game of chess:


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