Do­ing it for the bees, even when stung

The Tribune (NZ) - - PLAN BEE -

He­len English loves bees. A bee­keeper for six years, she speaks of bees as an al­most re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence. ’’It’s just the most sat­is­fy­ing thing. You get your honey and you spend time with bees and any stings just don’t mat­ter.’’

He­len knows a bit about stings, too. She says she made every mis­take you could make one day - wore per­fume and makeup, and ate a ba­nana for lunch. Then, she went alone to clear the hive, with­out gloves.

He­len had in­ad­ver­tently left a small gap be­tween her hel­met and the top of her suit. As soon as she re­alised, she says she could feel them crawl­ing un­der her arms, in her hair and down her neck. Care­fully, re­mem­ber­ing that pan­ick­ing was the worst thing she could do, she un­zipped her hel­met and was slid­ing it slowly off her head when it slipped and banged against her back.

‘‘That’s when all hell broke loose. The bees went nuts. I leapt on the quad bike and was dis­rob­ing as I raced down the lane headed for home, hol­ler­ing for my hus­band all the way. By the time I was run­ning through the yard, I was in my bra and knick­ers!’’

He­len can laugh about the ex­pe­ri­ence now, but the hun­dreds of stings left her with an al­lergy to bee stings, and it took her 4-5 months to get her con­fi­dence back. Now, she takes a sin­gle an­ti­his­tamine every time she works the hives, never works alone, adn loves her bees all the more.

A bad day in the hive didn’t de­ter.

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