Bumblebee, the Friendly Bee
The Gentle Bee
CAUTION: A bumblebee can and will sting if provoked.
Yet a bumblebee will often choose just to go on its way. Following are two stories that illustrate this fact.
The Bumblebee at the Back Door
I was about 10 years old when, on morning, I woke to the unmistakable variable hum of a bee nearby - not outside, through the protective window screen, but in the house. Fear seized my heart. I got out of bed and cautiously opened the door to my room. From there, I had a direct line of sight to our back door, which stood open. There, flying repeatedly against the top window of the outer screen door, was the biggest bumblebee I ever saw. He looked to be about the size of a Hot Wheels car. His buzz sounded frustrated and angry.
My mom, frontier gal (Jewish girl from Manhattan) that she is, rolled up a healthy section of the Sunday paper and went into stalk mode, approaching the bee with her weapon ready to strike.
Then my older sister came out of her room in her blue pajama.
"Don't kill it," she said, and explained that, at her summer job picking cherries for a local orchard, those bees were around all the time and didn't sting anyone. It seems they like cherry juice. She walked straight up to it, opened the screen door, and scooped it out the door with her hand. It flew away in a typical Z pattern.
The Bumblebee and the Kitten
I was sitting with my dad in our back yard. I think he was having a Hamms Beer and listening to the Minnesota Twins game on his portable radio. At our feet, a bumblebee was methodically working the clover, tiny white flower by tiny white flower bending under his weight in turn.
A kitten emerged from the shed, saw the bee, and lashing its tail, went into full pre-pounce mode.
"Uh-oh," I said. "That kitten is going to get stung."
"We'll see," said dad.
The kitten stalked the bumblebee carefully, then pounced from a distance of about a foot, pinning the bee beneath its front paws.
"Bz", said the bee. "Bz.... bz ...........bz...." as it muscled its way from beneath the kitten's paws and then simply flew away.
On the Other Hand
Bumblebees seemed to love to sting my little sister. One summer she got stung five times. The fifth time she broke out in red blotches and got a fever. Bee venom is nothing to trifle with. It is a serious poison that can give you a strong allergic reaction.
One thing I will say is that bumblebees seem to react aggressively to fear. My older sister was totally unafraid of bumblebees. My younger sister was petrified of them. If you are faced with handling a bumblebee, do it calmly and without fear and you may be spared its sting.
This theory, of course, is entirely based on anecdotal evidence and is not scientific at all.