Written By Galen White
On hot summer day, waaay back when my only concerns were occupying my time with something fun to do, I found myself playin’ around our hay barn. I’m pretty sure I was in my Tarzan mode, fightin’ off radid lions and man-killin’ rinoseruses….., ryenoser…, man-killin’ monkeys.
One particularly large lion, eyes filled with fire and steam comin’ from his nostrils, seemed intent on makin’ a lunch outta me. As he crouched to leap in for the kill, I grabbed a piece of wood and cracked it over his noggin’ when he was in mid-leap. This, of course, didn’t kill him but stunned him long enough for me to pull my rusty…., er, my trusty knife, and commence stabbin’ him to death.
Now, I know some of you are thinkin’ that I’ve either killed my dog, Dixie, or Mr. Virg White is now short one milk cow. Well, rest easy for neither one is the case. This was an imaginary fight and no one lost any life, any blood, or any hide. Well, that ain’t exactly true ’cause I lost a bit of hide when the piece of wood I swung broke and a chunk flew back and rapped me up side of head. Guess it’s a good thing some of us are hardheaded!
The cows standin’ ’round hardly looked up at my antics, havin’ already learned to ignore the young freckle-faced human. They had passed the word ’round that he might be noisy and aggafrettin’, but he wasn’t gonna hurt no one. ‘Bout the worst thing he would do is utter some unrepeatable words after steppin’ in — or worse — fallin’ in a pile of fresh cow manure. I can’t prove it, but I highly suspect the cows got a good laugh when that happened.
Anyway and after I had slain the man-eatin’ lion, I heard a slight buzzin’ noise. It was very faint, and I wasn’t too sure it wasn’t comin’ from between my ears after the chunk broke off and popped me on the noggin. I soon realized it wasn’t me for it seemed to be comin’ from the rafter that I had broken the piece of wood over.
With extreme caution I inched closer to the rafters. I used extreme caution ’cause Tarzan wasn’t a fool; man-eatin’ lions and monkeys he could deal with; he didn’t know about the unknown. What if it was some outer space creature like the one in the movie “Predator”?
By the time I was within a few inches of the rafter, the buzzin’ had stopped. Most everyone knows curiosity killed the cat (I told you I didn’t do it!), and it was a sure thing that I had a whole truck load of curiosity. So, I picked up the chunk of wood that had broken off, and again hit one of the rafters. Sho’ ’nuff, I heard the buzzin’ again. Upon closer inspection, I found a hole in the wooden beam.
As I watched the hole, the buzzin’ slacked off and finally stopped. Another rap on the rafter and the buzzin’ began anew. It only took a few minutes of my hittin’ the rafter and the bussin’ afore a great big bumble bee backed outta the hole my eye had been glued to.
Now, Tarzan or not, ol’ Galen wasn’t hangin’ ’round long enough to see if the bee was mad or not. Tarzan could handle fightin’ rabid lions and man-eatin’ monkeys, but ol’ Galen had felt the sting of a bee before and as a result, had no hankerin’ whatsoever to feel another one. Quicker’n Tarzan could swing from one tree to another, I lit a shuck outta the neighborhood and toward safer territories.
Later on, I told my dad of the encounter with the bee hive in the rafter. He explained that it wasn’t a hive, but these were carpenter bees, Of course, I knew what a carpenter was ’cause my dad was a better’n average one, and two of my brothers were well-known for their home buildin’ abilities. Dad explained that carpenter bees bored a hole into wood and set up house in the hole. To me, though, a bee was a bee, and bees would sting you if given half a chance.
As I began this article and thinkin’ of the carpenter bees of yore, I also began to wonder about the bees one sees flyin’ around the house in the springtime. You know the ones I’m talkin’ about ’cause they have a big ol’ white spot right between their eyes; hence, the “white faced bumble bee”. You may also have heard the white faced bee cannot sting. It was always fun for me to capture one, tie a thread around its midsection, and let him lead me around on his “leash”.
All ‘his thinkin’ made me do a little research, and I was surprised to discover the white faced bee and the carpenter bee are one and the same. And, it’s true the male bee of this species cannot sting as he does not have a stinger. However, the female can sting if you tick her off. Kinda reminds you of the human species, don’t it?
Anyway, it just goes to show you, you are never too old to learn something. Still, white faced or not, bees and me just don’t see eye to eye. A bee’s nest can mean serious business, and the memories of their sting can last a lifetime.
Galen White has written articles for several papers in North Louisiana and is now retired.