Tag Archives: sting

I tried to control a swarm of bees

I saw this clip on Reddit of a guy approaching a whole swarm of bees attached to a tree. He slowly puts his hand through the mass of squirming insects and removes it a few seconds later, totally unharmed. The next time, he goes back in, he pulls off a huge of bees, almost like the whole cluster was a liquid, like he was running his hands through a loosely cohesive whole.


Scrolling down through the comments, I hoped to find some sort of an explanation. And I found it. Someone wrote about how when you find bees attached to a tree or some other object, it means that they’re swarming, that they don’t have a queen to protect, and that they’re incredible docile. It all made sense as far as I could tell, I mean, I’m no beekeeper, but this was proof, right?

So when my wife called me outside a few months later, she was screaming, “Rob! Come outside, come quick!” I went out back and she was standing twenty feet away from the garage. “Look Rob, there’s some sort of a beehive.” And it was just like I saw on the video, there were tons of them, all clustered in the top left corner.

I said to my wife, “You want to see something cool?” and I was just going do it, like I’d run my hands through and my wife would be all scared but after a while she’d see that I wasn’t being hurt. How would she react? She’d probably start asking a bunch of half-questions, like, “But … how? This … what?” and I’d just laugh, making up some nonsense answer like, “It’s all about confidence. These bees are more afraid of you than you are of them. You need to project strong vibes, and they’ll understand that. They don’t speak English, but body language a universal means of communication.”

So I calmly walked toward the hive. “Rob? What are you doing, Rob?” to which I replied, “Hey, I’ve got it. Don’t worry.” And that whole confidence, posture, body language thing, it totally worked on my wife. She saw me chill out, she started chilling out herself. “All right, just be careful. What are you going to do?”

“Watch,” and, you know, even though I was fairly certain that this was going to go just as it did on the Internet, there was still a palpable sense of fear. I mean, even if you’re positive that something doesn’t pose a real threat, a swarm of bees is still pretty scary. I’m not even used to dealing with like one bee, but this? This was hundreds of bees. I got close and the buzzing, which I could hear from back at the house, it grew louder, deafening, I could feel it like a cloud of vibration surrounding the periphery of my being.

I raised my hand toward the swarm and I realized that I was fighting my bodily instincts. It was same feeling I had when I went to this adventure park over the summer. One of the attractions was called the Mega Jump, basically, you climb up to a really high platform, they attach you to this rope and pulley thing, and you jump off, confident that whatever it is they’ve tied you to will slow your descent before you touch ground. Again, even though I knew it was this controlled thing, I still experienced a very physical reaction, a terror really, as soon as I stepped up to the edge.

But this was all in my head, I told myself, and I knew that I couldn’t stand there hesitating for too long. I’d psych myself out, or worse, my wife might get the impression that I didn’t know what I was doing, she might get hysterical again and I’d back out if only to keep her from freaking out. I swallowed the lump down my throat and I reached into the mass.

And the stinging was immediate. I recoiled my hand instantly, it was covered in bees, they were all stinging me. The outer layer of the swarm broke off and started circling my body, my face. I wanted to swat them away, I instinctively started flailing around, hitting myself in the head, which, with my one hand still covered in bees, it was just spreading them to my head, my scalp, the ones that had already stung me and died, it was like they were glued on, and I crushed some of them against my skull.

My wife came over with a bucket of water and doused me, but it did little good. In a brief lapse in between bouts of panic and terror, I regained control of my faculties and ran toward the hose, sprayed as many of them as I could away from my body, and followed my wife who had escaped inside the house.

There were like ten or twelve bees that had made it inside, and right outside, it was just this cloud, a whole nest of angry pissed off bees looking for some revenge. My hand was bleeding, everything was starting to swell, my wife was swatting at the few intruders were still circling our heads trying to exact revenge. I looked at my ballooning hand, she looked at me, she said, “What the fuck Rob? What the fuck?”

I got a pretty deep cut on my ankle and I’m worried that I’m about to die

A couple of weeks ago I was riding my bike and my leg slipped off of the right pedal. At first I didn’t think anything happened at all, my ankle had only made very brief contact with the chain. But I stopped and took a look and, yeah, it was actually a pretty deep cut. Not big, like maybe half an inch across, but deep. The blood started pouring out, soaking my sock red.

Whenever I get a big enough cut, I always think, well, that’s definitely going to get infected, I’m probably going to lose my leg, the doctor’s will try to keep the infection from spreading to the rest of my body, but they’re going to be fighting a losing battle, I’ll be patient zero for a new class of superbug, they’re going to quarantine me in some government hospital, and I’m going to die behind three layers of sterilized glass in some faraway laboratory, they’ll let my wife in the building to say goodbye, but she’ll be wearing some ridiculous biohazard suit and I won’t even know it’s her, she’ll be trying to hold my hand, give me one final hug, but again, the infection is going to spread to my brain, I’ll go into some blind rage, rip the suit apart, only to discover too late that it’s her underneath, that I’ve condemned her to the same contagion, that …

And then like any really long daydream about my horrible, impending doom, it kind of just faded away into the background of my mind, and I must have zoned out for the rest of the day, because my next conscious thought was of me standing at the kitchen counter making dinner. My wife came home and started asking me about my day when she stopped, “What did you do to your leg?”

Because I had totally forgotten. I don’t know how, it wasn’t even hurting. I can’t believe that I didn’t come straight home to clean it out. I didn’t feel it, but now that my attention was brought back to this deep red cut on my ankle, now that I noticed that the edges were still black with bike chain grease, that I hadn’t come home and even tried to wipe away the dirt, now it started to hurt, now it started to sting, to throb, I immediately thought about this article I read about Calvin Coolidge in the New Yorker, how his son developed a blister playing tennis, and it got infected and he died, dropped dead, and now I’m going to die too, and maybe I could have avoided it if I had just come home and taken care of it right away.

But I was in the middle of dinner, like I had stuff on the stove, so I tried to willfully ignore it again, maybe the pain would disappear once more. But it wasn’t happening. It was getting worse. I abandoned dinner and jumped in the shower. Wow, now it really stung. It was the kind of searing pain that was almost fake, it was so intense. Part of me was like, this is crazy how much this hurts, is this real? Is this a real feeling that I’m having?

And then the next day at work, I didn’t want to cover it up, because I didn’t want to give it a warm, wet environment to really develop an infection, but I didn’t want to think about it either, so I just kind of rolled my sock right on top of it. But my whole leg hurt, the more I stood up all day, the more time I spent walking around from table to table, the more I was convinced that I’d have to be hospitalized immediately.

Out of nowhere, I started freaking out. I showed the closest coworker my leg, “Does this look infected?” and she immediately responded, “Yes. Oh my God, gross.” Not exactly the assurance I was going for. So I sought a second opinion. Another coworker said, “No, just keep it clean.” Whew. I was going to make it.

The next day I was on the train and some random guy told me to buy a bottle of liquid skin. I’d heard of it, but never tried it. Usually I hate it when people tell me what to do, but I figured that if this thing was attracting unsolicited medical advice from strangers on the subway, maybe I should at least try something else, maybe an ointment, a Band-Aid, something.

I bought the liquid skin. The subway guy told me it might sting a little. A little. Ha. It was double that searing pain I was describing when I took that first shower. That stranger was lucky I didn’t take down his contact info and sue him for malpractice. Jesus Christ it stung. But then it went away and it was like, OK, this isn’t so bad, and I think it’s getting better. Yeah, definitely better.

But I didn’t read the liquid skin instructions. I just kept adding a new layer twice a day until there was this buildup, a liquid skin wall protruding from my ankle. I couldn’t even see through to the cut anymore. Worse, this stuff was impenetrable. I tried taking it off, but it was like trying to take off my own skin. I finally looked at the bottle.

“To remove, apply a new layer of Liquid Skin and quickly wipe away.” Huh. I guess I hadn’t been doing the remove part. And so I went to apply another layer, but the bottle was empty. And then I thought, what if society collapses? What if this stuff ceases to be produced? Is this the only way of removing it? Will I have any other options? Or am I going to be this guy, this impervious layer of liquid skin permanently stuck to my leg? How am I going to explain what it is? What if there’s an itch underneath? What if …

But I forgot about that also after a while. My leg’s doing OK now. It’s there, the cut, like I said, it was really deep. And the liquid skin is still there too, but I don’t really care, because I hardly look down there anyway, it’s at such an awkward angle, and it doesn’t hurt at all anymore, so I just pull up my socks and hopefully by the next time I give that part of my body some consideration, everything will be OK. Or I’ll be dead.