Skip to content

Dear honeybees,

July 27, 2011

Dear honeybees (all 50,000 or so of you),

Oh, how I love your presence in the garden. I love seeing you nuzzling in the yellow skirts of squash blossoms, or flying home with sacks of pollen affixed to your legs like messenger bags.

I like knowing that when the fruit trees bloom in spring—even the apricots which bloom so early it seems they’re playing chicken with winter—you’ll be there to pollinate them.

And, I love that you’re here, tipping the balance ever so slightly away from The Vanishing of The Bees, at least temporarily, in our microcosm of the planet.

But, sisters and brothers, you have got to stop stinging me.

~ the plantain foot soak. sorry, the next picture is gnarly ~

~ this is called edema or marshmallow foot~

I mean, I like to think of us as friends. Really, we have a lot in common. We love to hang out in the same places. We’re nuts about echinacea flowers and the bright sunflower skyscrapers. We’re both like moony teenagers around the hollyhocks. And right now, we’re all pretty focused on harvesting.

~ swoonable holly hocks ~

~ white hollyhocks, triple swoon ~

And I’m not breaking up with you, honeybees, but I’m having some serious doubts about our relationship. 3 stings in 2 weeks is setting me back. Yesterday, I couldn’t even put a shoe on my foot it was so blown up. Also, I’m a little twitchy in the garden right now – eyes shifting around like a nervous rabbit.

Is there something you’re trying to tell me? (I stopped wearing the purple hat in the garden and never wear perfume). I know there’s an acupuncturist in town that believes bees sting you where you already have inflammation, to kick-start the healing process. Even the kind hippies who live downstairs think that’s bullshit.

Anyway, I’m into gentle communication.

Peace and Love,


ps: the epi pen is in the medicine cabinet.

31 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2011 2:32 pm

    Holy marshmallow foot! Ouch! I don’t suppose if you pee on the bees, instead of their stings, that they’ll get the message? I think if I were you, I would have to go harvesting in full-on chain mail or an astronaut suit or something. I respect the bees, but I just can’t handle them all up in my personal space.

  2. July 27, 2011 2:33 pm

    This made me smile.

  3. July 27, 2011 2:34 pm

    Your foot looks like it’s going to POP! : (

  4. July 27, 2011 3:12 pm

    wow! hope you remain sting free for the rest of harvest!

  5. July 27, 2011 3:14 pm

    Oh my goodness! I am ridiculously scared of bee stings. Just harvesting in our garden gave me heart spasms initially. Are you allergic or is that a standard reaction?

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      July 28, 2011 5:16 pm

      I think I am a bit allergic. But so far the reaction has been mostly local, so it’s 50-50 whether my reaction will increase with subsequent stings.

  6. Chi-An permalink
    July 27, 2011 3:24 pm

    Ouch, that looks painful! I wonder what it is about you that the bees love- is it because you’re sweet? :) I have never been stung, despite having bees land on me and crawl across my glasses, etc. Guess I’m not sweet enough. I love seeing the bees in our garden, too- we have many poppies which have been attracting them.

  7. July 27, 2011 3:55 pm

    I wasn’t around when it happened but when My Guy spotted a swarm of bees, he ran and took cover and left our daughter, who was buried in sand from neck down by the beach, by herself. That’s what happens when urban people encounter bees, and here you are coexisting with them peacefully and writing a gentle letter asking not to be stung. So sweet :)

  8. July 27, 2011 4:04 pm

    Oh my the pain! I love your poem to the bees – they should be treating you better with such a plethora of food choices within 1/8 acre!!
    Have you ever heard of putting honey on bee stings? My mom would slather my stings (bee, wasp, yellow jacket) with honey. The one time in college I neglected the honey remedy, I got an infection.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      July 28, 2011 5:18 pm

      Thanks for the honey tip. Funny, the connection: bees and honey. Such a cyclical, wonderful world.

  9. Anonymous permalink
    July 27, 2011 4:34 pm

    Arnica does wonders for me. Bees can be bittersweet. Thanks for sharing. Seaweed soaks helped me once from a nasty ass bee sting.

  10. July 27, 2011 4:38 pm

    Stacia I, too, love an respect your gentle voice to the bees. Thank you for having the epi pen close by. I just asked my good ER doc love about continued allergy and he says it can come and go. Sometimes a big reaction like the marshmellow foot…sometimes tiny. So, don’t think it always has to be bad. (But keep that epi pen handy, right?)

    Bless you for blessing those who sting because they also make those holly hocks so lovely. I love that you see it all.

  11. abozza permalink
    July 27, 2011 5:36 pm

    Rachel…Turns out we have a tree full of honeybees which just hums as we walk past. The kids know to steer clear, as I do not embrace them as you do, but one day soon, we’ll be just as swollen as your poor foot, I’m sure!

  12. July 27, 2011 5:40 pm

    I’ve never been stung before. Can you believe it? Scares the pants off me. You are a brave soul! Surely the gardening gods will shine down a bountiful harvest upon you for such a sacrifice?

  13. July 27, 2011 7:16 pm

    Oh for goodness sake, 3 stings!!! I would say your are handling it exceptionally well as I would have written this post in all caps !! Fast & happy healing thoughts sent your way!!! (and I’m with the kind hippies–say whuhh??)

  14. July 27, 2011 7:24 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one. The bees and I have had a few run ins this last week too. Thankfully a quick mashing of plantain on the effected area heals me up in 15 minutes… but it still hurts. I was told bees are attracted to Lemongrass, which I wear as an essential oil alot. But attracted and aggravated are 2 different things, right?! I’m going to have to go into the garden covered in mud and straw perhaps to deflect their advances…… best of luck to you. Bee Love stings.

  15. July 27, 2011 7:25 pm

    That last bit was supposed to be like a pun on ‘Love stinks’…

  16. July 27, 2011 8:03 pm

    Oh, you poor thing! Be(e) careful! Maybe you should encourage some other kind of less stingy pollinators, like butterflies or something.

  17. July 27, 2011 10:11 pm

    Goodness that’s a fat foot. No fun. The inflamation comment made me laugh out loud. The brother bees have no stingers. They just hand out and eat and spend their time looking for love, like some young men I know. Perhaps you are in the flight path? Maybe change the direction of the hive entrance? SO sorry. And glad to hear about the epi pen.

  18. July 27, 2011 11:35 pm

    ohhhhhhhhhhhh….can i drop off my zebra sparkle flip flops?

  19. July 28, 2011 9:30 am

    ouch, mama. that is no good. except for the hollyhocks and echinacea, which are fantastic. i’m not quite on board with the acu guy, but i read about old timers using stinging nettle to treat arthritic pain, which seems as much of a longshot, and yet they did it. do you think you are carrying around a lot of fear about the bees now that they have stung you? i know this is also old wivesy, but i was told as a youngster that bees smell fear, and the fear is contagious, and if they’re scared they sting. so as long as you are not scared (and don’t step on them or something like that) they won’t be scared. i’m not sure that will help in your confined quarters there, but it does sound like you might be a little leery right now and goodness i know i would be after that many stings, yeeouch!

    and thanks for not kicking them out just yet- i’m not ready for them to vanish either!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      July 28, 2011 4:55 pm


      I do believe in the possibility that bee stings (and nettles) can help arthritis or inflammation, I’m just not so sure the bees themselves know where that inflammation is. Also, the 3 times I got stung I wasn’t scared at all. I wasn’t even thinking about the bees as I moved about the garden, which was why I was so shocked to feel that sting of the stinger. Now I am nervous darnit, and not really sure what to do about that. I know the bees can sense fear. Hopefully soon I’ll go back to my oblivious ways, just moving about the garden without being conscious of the bees.

  20. July 28, 2011 6:09 pm

    Boy! that foot looks like it hurts like the dickens :o( Bee’s are pretty dangerous. I like their honey but I don’t like their stings..please be more careful ..I’m glad you knew a potion to act on it..hope it helped..

  21. Anonymous permalink
    July 28, 2011 6:39 pm

    Okay… so, about the peeing on the bees thing… um, just how does one go about peeing on a bee? And I think that’s a remedy for jellyfish stings. Anyway, I agree with the others… ouch. I had an interesting sting the other day. I got a new scooter (150 cc Low Boy – it’s a honey of a ride – pun intended!) and an insect that shall remain nameless (because I was riding the scooter at about 35 mph) hit my face, ended up behind me, caught between my hair and my shirt, and stung my back (did I say I was going 35 mph?). Weird that in that microsecond of time he (or she) had the mindset/wherewithal to hit me, decide to be pissed off, and sting me. It didn’t swell up like your monster, I mean marshmallow, foot, but I did feel compelled to touch it repeatedly (like a sore tooth) throughout the day. Sweetie, would you consider carrying your epi pen in a pocket while you’re outside? Seconds can matter. Peace, sista’. I love you! Magster Geck

  22. July 29, 2011 2:20 am

    Fitting I should come across this the night my eldest daughter gets her first bee sting. We were in a field and put mud on it right away. It helped, or at least she stopped sobbing.
    Wowza. Your foot – poor you. I’ve always told my hubby there’s an inner bee keeper in me, but I think I couldn’t handle the stings. Especially if my foot got like yours!
    Wishing you sweet honey without the stings.

  23. July 29, 2011 6:45 am

    aside from everything else already said — if that was happening in my yard i’d be thinking:
    is there something wrong with where the hive is located?
    is the environment different from somewhere they were before which is bothering them?
    do they not understand the “ground rules” for living on my property?

    basically – are they trying to communicate with me that something is wrong (not that you are wearing the wrong thing but that there is something wrong with their living situation and they know you are the one to voice complaints with so they are getting your attention they only way they know how to)?


    do they just need a little chat about saftey – i.e. you can live here with this loving family and amazing garden but you cannot sting – if you sting you lose the home…

  24. July 30, 2011 3:41 pm

    Oh babe. Oh wow. I have had a doozy of a week and love coming here for beauty abounds even in a fat foot. And I triple love this: “Even the kind hippies who live downstairs think that’s bullshit.” xo

  25. August 2, 2011 10:35 am

    I don’t know much about bees, but I’ve heard, and experienced, that bees get a little testy about this time in the summer. They’ve got much work to do and they’ve got to do it NOW, before the cold. They’re harvesting, just as you’re trying to do. You simply got in the way of grouchy bees. I know that’s not a solution for you, but it might explain why you’re getting stung so much. Still, must they have to go out of their way to get me/you? Yeesh!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      August 2, 2011 2:27 pm

      I think you’re right on about that. It’s a small, tangled territory out there that we both lay claim to.

  26. August 14, 2011 6:18 pm

    Ouch! That’s the reason I have not been interested in bees here. They can come here and pollinate and all that, but having that many of them so close just makes me nervous thinking out it! I wish I had some words of advice for you, but I don’t. Here’s hoping it gets better, and that the honey you get (if you get any) makes it worth it.


  1. The urban homestead turns 14 « 6512 and growing

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I love hearing from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s