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“Beekeeping” Gone Bad

Lest you begin to believe that I was an infallible savant when it came to animal behavior as a youngster, here’s a telling anecdote that will quickly dispel that notion…

I was walking home from a friend’s house one day when I spotted yellow jackets (meat-eating wasps) coming out of a hole in the ground near the pathway I was taking. As I stood and watched, they came out, one by one, and then flew off to destinations unknown.

The more I watched, the more perplexed I became. I pondered, “Just how many bees are in that hole?”

So I went home and got a large mason jug.  (This was my first mistake.)

Returning to the site, I upended the jar and placed it over the hole. (This was my second mistake.)

And waited. It didn’t take long.

Almost immediately, a yellow jacket flew up into the mason jug. Then another. And another.

Before long, there were ten or fifteen wasps batting around inside the mason jug. And others were arriving back home only to find themselves exiled by glass.

On both sides of the jug now, bees were commingling and buzzing, getting more and more excited and agitated.

I realized my mistake. I started feeling sorry for the bees. As the direct cause of their accumulating distress, I felt acutely guilty.

And then I made my last mistake. (It was also my most heroic, and only real, choice. My moral compass was strong, even as a five or six year old kid.)

Although I knew it was risky, I felt compelled to make it right. Taking a long stick—more like a branch—I knocked the mason jug off the hole and then ran like hell.

But not fast enough.

Those wasps were pissed. I was exuding heat and fear as I ran, and they zeroed in on me like fighter pilots, relentlessly zapping me in the head, arms and shoulders as I ran.

Fortunately, before too long they relented.  I was safely outside their home zone pretty fast so they returned to their stock in trade without further ado.

That’s when I learned about really thinking things through, beyond any step I was considering taking.

That’s when I learned to anticipate another’s reactions should I do something unwise or unexpected.

That’s when I learned that seemingly innocuous actions can be interpreted as all-out war.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Yeah, baby! I got that one down pat that day!)

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