Doing it for the bees, even when stung
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.