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CCFB News» September 2018

Downwind"Man versus Nature" Part 2

09/01/2018 @ 7:00 am | By Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

In July, I wrote a column titled “Man versus Nature” which contained a quick overview of the long, losing battles that I continually seem to have with varmints, invasive plants and weather.  Unfortunately, the time is right for a part 2.


During the first weekend of August, our home’s air conditioning system stopped functioning. (Another column should be “man versus mechanicals”) How does one usually discover the failure of the air conditioner? It gets hot and humid outside, followed becoming really hot and humid inside, followed by irritated family members expressing strong opinions.  I became acutely aware of the air conditioning failure after receiving some strong opinions…


While at church, we shared our air conditioning misfortune to a fellow parishioner who just so happens to be a heating and air conditioning contractor (Strategic conversations in church are important).  He indicated that he would stop by in the afternoon to take a look. Score!


While waiting for him at the house, my wife and I decided to do a quick landscape cleanup and tidy the outside area surrounding the AC condenser unit. I began pulling weeds and clumps of grass in an effort to create an illusion that we do take care of the place. My wife grabbed a rake to remove piles of leaves that had windrowed around the condenser and along the foundation of the house.


I was bent over, grunting to pull an especially large weed, when my wife began to scream. Pivoting, I saw her flailing her arms as her sunglasses went flying into a pile of leaves. Did a squirrel jump on her head? The back of my head began to burn with pain and I realized we were being stung by a swarm of angry bees. My wife had raked the cap off a hive of ground bees.


Being averse to pain, I suggested to my wife by yelling that we “RUN!”  We flailed around the corner of the house, across the patio and dove into the kitchen. Were we safe? Not quite. A number of bees were tangled in my wife’s hair (which I heard is unsettling).


After dealing with the unwanted “guests” in the house, we took a few minutes to settle our heart rates, count our stings (7-8 on the back of my head and 12-15 in various locations on my wife’s body), and begin a quick treatment. I was keenly aware that the AC contractor was due in less than an hour and now we had an angry swarm of bees guarding the air conditioning unit.


I need to interrupt my story to emphasize that I am a supporter of bees. I have written several times in this space about their great busy-ness, pollination skills and ability to produce sweet treats. I very much like their products. We have many Farm Bureau members that are very active in bee and honey production. We annually hold a local honey contest for area beekeepers (September 29, 2018 is the next one). My wonderful mom is a beekeeper. My sister is writing a beekeeping book for second graders. Do you get the picture? Bees are awesome! However, I was in a dark place and full of negativity toward bees…Kill, crush, destroy.


Time to Hunt. And when I say “hunt,” I mean put on heavy clothing, hide around the corner of the house and shoot bug spray onto the nest while being prepared to run at the first sign of more pain. 


I hiked on jeans (without holes) tucking the pant legs into my heavy muck boots, donned a heavy flannel and pulled out leather gloves and a straw hat. I dug through the camping supplies for mosquito netting to go over the hat to cover my head, face and neck – makeshift beekeeper’s garb. I then spent a nerve-racking half an hour trying to take back our property while the bees attempted to defend theirs. I was divebombed from every angle.


As a bee lover, I felt no pride finally winning this battle. I did finally feel secure that our AC contractor could safely work on the unit. 20 minutes later, after replacing a couple parts, he had the system up and running! A welcome, anticlimactic finish!


I always try to learn something from my many life experiences…

1.Beekeepers don’t get paid enough…$199.99 for an 8-ounce bottle of honey is about right.

2.A tidy, weed and leaf free home is greatly over – rated.

3.People who intentionally seek bee sting therapy to address arthritis and Alzheimer’s are…@&$%!

4.Running like a scared chicken from pain is a great solution to many of life’s problems.

5.When my wife screams, always pay attention.  Always.


I frequently say, “thank you, farmers from growing great products so I don’t have to”! Now, I will add, “Thank you Cook County Beekeepers for all you do and endure”!

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