July 10, 2009 by 8junebugs
Today is National Don’t Step on a Bee Day. I don’t know what your community is doing to celebrate, but Alexandrians can head down to Buzz Bakery on Slaters Lane (mmm, red velvet cupcakes) for bee-themed treats. There’s a free-beeeeee for the kids, too, while supplies last.
I used to spend summers working with bees buzzing around and landing on my hands. I worked (starting at the age of 8 or 9) with my oldest friend and her mother (my “sister” Rach and my Maralee-mommy) making shaved ice at fairs and events around Vermont. Not the packed sno-cones you get at the stands run by carnies, the ones with flavors that all taste like lipstick–real Hawaiian shaved ice, with, at one point, more flavors than Baskin Robbins.
In the early years, we used squeeze bottles for the flavors, which, just so you’re aware, required five pounds of white sugar per gallon. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a shaved ice whenever you can…I generally do…but, you know. Brush your teeth.
Between leaks, stray squirts, and moving quickly to keep customers happy, it only didn’t take long for our hands to turn brown from the sugar and the mixed artifical colors. If you were a bee, which stand would you flock to? Every Memorial Day, Independence Day, County Fair, Reggae Fest, Aquafest, and points between, there we were, making sugared ice bombs with up to 10 bees on our hands at any given time.*
It scared the shit out of the customers. We learned to stay calm and be careful. Eventually, we started using hard plastic bottles with liquor spouts. Between that and the fact that Rach and I got stronger, faster, and more coordinated, and the bottles and our hands stayed cleaner.
In the seven or eight years I worked for Rainbow Ice, I only got stung once. We were taking down the canopy after a long, long day at some event (they all blended together after a while), and one lone bee was stuck up in a corner of the tarp. He was trapped, I put my hand in, and I couldn’t really blame him. Fortunately, there was ice handy.
Hence, I learned that bees aren’t evil or scary and couldn’t care less about stinging you. If you’re allergic to the stings (and KidBrother was…deathly so), I can understand being fearful, but otherwise? Just bugs. Cute and helpful ones. Don’t step on them.
Wasps, not so much. I hate those little fuckers.
* I know it sounds like a little Vermont sweatshop, but chill. Maralee was a single mom looking for a way to make extra money while still spending time with her young daughter, who’s a year older than I. This fit the bill, and they brought me in the second year. This is where my work ethic started and where we learned about money and people and planning at a very young age. Plus? I got paid very, very well for my work.
I’ve never stepped on a bee, but I did sit on a dead one once in a baby pool and managed to sting myself in the butt. I was graceful even at a young age.
I cannot even imagine how you never got stung. Maybe CA bees are whacked out on smog and VT bees are calm with the nice fresh air.