The Bee Tree

Tis the season of stings. The bees and their venomous relatives are celebrating a last hurrah — emerging from the earth, haunting the trees, hovering in the air.

At our neighbors’ house, the hornets drive the humming birds from their sugar-water feeders. Obviously the birds outsize the insects, but hornets are powerful intimidators.

Our wasps are also busily streaming from ground nests, seeking an unsuspecting ankle or a bare wrist resting against the tractor. They burst angrily from rust holes that spread in the metal tubing of the pasture gates.

This past weekend, I took Chance out for a rookie fox-hunting run. Not 10 minutes in, he bore the brunt of a dozen vengeful bees, enraged when hounds and horses treaded over a wooded nest. Once the attack was underway, we fled the forest for a bee-less corn field. But they kept after us. At home I picked stingers from the welts that pocked Chance’s neck and hindquarters.

And about a week ago, I discovered a massive haven of bee activity right beside the house. I heard the humming from an open window. Like the steady buzz of power lines or some far-off mower chewing grass.

But this hum originated close by, in the tree that hugs the porch and tops out next to our bathroom. I walked outside to investigate. Every branch shimmered with motion. The tree buzzed with life as bees lifted to the air, then dive-bombed the flowery clusters.
I reminded myself that they’re plain old bees. Not hostile hornets or defensive wasps. If I leave them alone, they’ll return the favor.

But it’s the sheer number — the cacophonous drone — that scares me.

I know what they can do.

Note Hadley parked to offer scale of tree. Toddler not harmed for this photo.
Even the bees don’t mess with The Barbarian.