While we’re busy avoiding the rattlesnakes and javelina that blossom along with Tucson’s spring, we can easily forget one more potentially dangerous critter.
All hail the black and yellow bumblebee.
Many of us are reminded daily of how annoying bees can be – especially when we see the big, fat carpenter bee that somehow manages to stay bobbling through the air with the body the size of Asia. But many of us have also forgotten how painful sting can be.
The first and only time I was stung was as a toddler at a fateful family picnic in Dearborn, Mich. The incident forever prompted me to eat grilled food in the car. I have since learned not to swat, bat or otherwise make panicked flailing motions in a bee’s general direction. I’ve also learned not to wear vanilla-scented skin lotion while trekking through the forest after an equally ill-fated hike in upstate New York.
I thought I had insect habits mastered. But then a stealthy little devil bee caught me by surprise. As I stuck my hand in a bucket to scoop out dead leaves I felt a searing, sharp prick on my ring finger. I at first thought the prick was from a mesquite thorn or one of those burry goat heads, but as I pulled my hand from the bucket I saw the prick was attached to a writhing, dusty, deflated bee.
Did I mention the word prick?