When Bees Attack

It was June 3rd, 2004 and I was reading a book for one of my last classes I’d ever take to earn my English degree from BYU, The Orchard: A Memoir. Adele Crockett Robertson wrote about her tale of extracting bees from a neighbor’s house and it was surprisingly terrifying and exciting. Reading it prompted me to think about my own encounters with bees and so I picked up my journal and wrote about them. One of them was from the summer I did door-to-door sales in Pennsylvania, back in 2000:

It was nearing noon on Saturday. The humidity and what you could almost describe as scorching sun were sapping me of my energy. My lower back was wet with sweat from the car seat. I felt like I was in the car a lot today and that is not ideal for a door-to-door sales girl. But, it was Saturday. That meant I only worked until five, not nine as the first five days of the week. Also, tomorrow was free for church and rest. Sundays were bliss.

I scanned over my hand-drawn map of streets and houses. So many X’s, I thought, recalling the rejections, but I did not care. Today was already half over.

I looked over my street map, scanning the highlighted roads that I had walked and knocked and noticed a small, unlabeled line. It could possibly represent an empty, dead-end dirt road. There were a lot of those scattered throughout this small, Pennsylvania farm town. I usually pulled onto them when I decided it was time for a nap. Company rules said no returning to “headquarters,” so I couldn’t go home to sleep. Today was too muggy for a siesta, but I planned to check out the road regardless. It was dirt, lots of holes, lots of rocks.

As I pulled through some trees, I saw them: little houses tucked back here, hiding from people like me. I hoped they had a “No Soliciting” sign. I collected those.

The house on the right was tiny with overgrown bushes blocking a path to the front door so I pulled up near the side door. I turned off the car, left the keys in the ignition, grabbed my ugly-green book back and hopped out.

After drawing a little box to represent the house on my map, I walked up towards the door. There was a dirty glass door with a thick, wooden door behind it—no doorbell. I opened the first door, knocked on the second and then saw a small frenzy in the corner of my eyes: bees. Several came rushing out of a tall bush next to the door that I had disturbed with my bag. Instinct made my swat one, duck, grab my bag and skip a few steps back.

I didn’t leave; I wanted someone to answer.

Something crawled on my back. It was inside my shirt. It started to get mad. I could tell because its little body started drumming into my back. A little bee had flown in my sleeve and couldn’t get back out. Feeling frantic, I grabbed my shirt by reaching back over my head. I about pulled it right off, but the little guy got me first.

That’s when I learned it wasn’t a bee. He was a wasp and he didn’t die after the first sting. Several smarts later, we were free of each other and I yelled at the non-responding house: “Nobody’s home! I hope they sting you, too.”

I decided it was time for my nap, got in my car and crossed the little road off of my map.

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