Part I: You’re going to get stung!

I was a fortunate youngster growing up in a small rural town in Kansas. What made it fortunate for me was the fact that both sets of my grandparents lived within a couple of miles of me.

I was able to spend quality time with my grandparents, and I cherish those times and memories. My grandparents were everything to me and I know the feeling was mutual. Now that I am a grandparent, I understand the dynamics of the relationship.

Before I was school age, I spent a great deal of time at my maternal grandparents’ house in town. I was the oldest of three children under the age of 4, so I was sent to someone who could handle me. I imagine it was somewhat like being sent to boarding school or reform school.

Whatever the reason, I spent a lot of time with my Grandma Alice. I often remind my two sisters that I was the favorite. Paula and I currently have some plants in the landscaping — I have no clue what they are — that put forth these beautiful small purple flowers. They really are quite beautiful, and I am not the only one who thinks so. The local bumblebee population also has a fondness for them!

These plants are right by the back door and a couple of days ago, I noticed that the three plants were hosting at least 20 bumblebees. I have had encounters with bumblebees in the past so this situation did get my attention.

My mind immediately flashed back to a time long ago at my Grandma Alice’s house. She had a large trumpet vine right outside her kitchen window. It was a beautiful bush and was loaded with blossoms. I was not the only one who noticed the blossoms. The local bumblebee population also took note. That bush was buzzing with bee activity.

I am not sure why or just what possessed me to do it, but I decided to stage an attack on the bees. Obviously I had no clue or experience of what the end result of such a foolish venture could bring about. I went in the house and retrieved a small squirt gun. My grandmother always had a squirt gun around for me to use! My sisters appreciated this gesture.

I filled the gun outside by the hydrant on the east side of the house and headed for the bush. The plan was simple. Wait for the unsuspecting bumblebee to crawl down inside the trumpet blossom and then launch the water attack right in behind it. It would be a snap.

As I moved forward to press the attack, I heard a voice.

“You are going to get stung,” my grandmother calmly commented as she watched out the kitchen window. There was no air conditioning in those days, so the kitchen window was always open and my grandmother was always in the kitchen. I froze in my tracks and let the words soak in. When you have a hard head, things don’t soak in well.

I pressed forward with the stealthy approach. I watched a bumblebee crawl down inside a blossom and I sprang into action. I shoved the barrel of the gun down inside the blossom and begun to pump the trigger as fast as I could. The blossom filled up with water and the bee came tumbling out and fell to the ground. I stomped on it. My triumphant feelings were short-lived, though. Where there is one bumblebee there are usually more.

As I stood there next to the bush admiring the result of my successful hunt, another bee launched an attack from somewhere and promptly stung me on the neck! Well, we all know what that feels like and what it probably sounded like. I headed for the house for the safety and comfort of my grandmother’s arms. I don’t remember what she said but I am sure there was an I told you so in there somewhere.

What I do remember was the mud patch she put on my neck to draw out the poison. I have read a lot lately about the endangerment of our pollinator species. As I watched the bees by my back porch, I wondered if we are really in danger of losing our very much needed bee population.

Tim Kellenberger114 Posts

Tim Kellenberger serves as Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for The Sabetha Herald since 2004. He specializes in sports reporting and column writing, as well as sports photography. Tim is a Grace University graduate with a dual degree in agricultural economics and human resource management. He lives in rural Sabetha with his wife and has four grown children and two grandchildren.

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