Stinging Insights

They say bee stings are more painful in the fall, and without having the slightest ideas why that might be, I'm beginning to think it's true. Got a couple of stings on my hand while checking the very crowded Green Hive the other day and couldn't believe how different these stings felt from those received earlier in the summer.

My experience throughout the summer has been that the sting "zaps" for a moment, then subsides. The real problem comes the next day, with heavy-duty itching and minor swelling. My stings have typically bothered me, itch-wise, for 2-3 days, but never actually hurt. It's been surprising to find the bee sting is more about annoyance than pain.

The stings I got the other day were a different story. My hand swelled up in a major way and really bothered me for 24 hours—not only itching me to the point of insanity, but somewhat painful and "hot" as well. Then, in hour 26, nada. A completely different pattern from the previous stings.

Either my bio reactions are changing as my body begins responding to periodic low doses of venom or there's something different about bee stings in autumn or something was different about the way these particular stings were delivered.

Could it be that as autumn comes and the fruits of the bees' labor accrue, the bees develop an ability to inflict more pain on those who would tamper with their precious winter stores? The beeyard is now redolent with the scent of honey. It is intoxicating and magical to smell from 10-15 feet away the warm, wafting aroma that just a few weeks ago could only be discerned by standing directly beside the hive. The aroma is an attractant to be sure. Perhaps the bees somehow know it and have enhanced their defense mechanisms accordingly.

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