Keep Calm and Carry On

Three beehives were not enough for the Englishman.  Five hives were perfect.  Five hives would make his life complete, so he drove two hours each way to pick up the last package bees of the season.

We weren’t ready for them.  So, the bees remained in their boxes while the Englishman built two bases.  Time was of the essence so it was decided to install the hives temporarily on the deck until the weekend.  We donned hats and gloves and within minutes the bees were buzzing about their new homes.  With great satisfaction, we put away our bee protective gear and grabbed a beer to share.

The Englishman sat in a nearby chair, sipping his lager and smugly admiring his efforts.  I took the second chair and watched him.  A lone bee aggressively flew about his head.  The Englishman put down his beer bottle and swatted at it.  Several more bees joined the first.  The Englishman continued swatting.  Backup arrived in the form of twelve angry bees.  The Englishman screamed, flailed his arms in the air and ran from the deck into the driveway and out of my view.  I picked up his abandoned bottle of beer but was unable to drink it as each shriek from the driveway made me laugh harder.  Soon the cries faded and I sat back to continue to observe our gentle Italian honeybees.

A tap at the window above my head beckoned me to the kitchen.  “There’s a stinger in me forehead!” he cried.  “Get it out!  Get it out!”  I scraped at it with a pair of scissors and assured him that bee stings were better than botox at removing wrinkles.  “I don’t have wrinkles in my forehead,” he protested.  “Not anymore,” I agreed and left him in the house while I checked on my ducks.
A few days later we removed the hives to their permanent home amongst the fruit trees.  The Englishman decided that it would be a good time to check the three established hives.  We smoked the hives, one at a time and removed the roof.  Using a hive tool to pry each frame from the “bee glue” that cemented it in place, we were able to lift the frames and inspect each side.

As I held a frame, heavy with honey and covered with bees, I felt a sting and a slow burning sensation under my arm where a sliver of skin was exposed between the glove and my short-sleeved shirt.  “I’ve been stung,” I told the Englishman, holding out my frame.  “Take it,” I ordered.  He slowly grasped the frame’s edges and I walked a few feet away.  I lifted my arm, scraped the stinger with my hive tool and returned to the hive to finish the job.  No screaming.  No crying.  No flailing.  Just keep calm and carry on.
The Englishman and I gathered the tools of our trade and trekked up the hill to the driveway.  “I’ve been stung through my pant leg,” he told me and then dropped his pants.  I looked on, horrified and fully aware of the neighbors, joggers, dog walkers and kids on bicycles.  He scraped the stinger with his hive tool and walked pant-less into the house.  No screaming.  No crying.  No flailing.  Just keep calm and carry on.

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