A common complaint of the tent-dwelling outdoorsineer is the bee, otherwise known as the yellowjacket, wasp, bumbler, Old Mister Stings, and killer bee. These are all local terms for the same creature – a yellow-and-black flying insect that secretes honey and feasts on bears and other meat. Stepping into a nest, or “hive”, of a swarm of bumblers can quickly turn a cheerful jaunt through the forest into a nightmarish hell of buzzing, stinging, and biting devils.
Throughout the years, bee attacks have taken thousands of lives and it is thought that angry bees may be the root cause behind such historical puzzles as the disappearance of the American colony at Roanoke1.
But fear not, traveler! There are a number of ways that you can fight off the nettlesome problem of bees. By familiarizing yourself with the techniques in this section, you will truly “be bee prepared, for bees”.
The psyche of the bee craves two things: meat, and solitude2. The first of these drives is a common thing found among many lower animals, including the dog, the lion, the elk, and the pelican3. The second drive, however, is unique to bees. This is due to the nature of their hive home – a cramped, uncomfortable oddity filled with the stench of Hymenopteric body odor and an interminable buzzing din, not unlike the tenement apartments of New York City during the Golden Age of Industry.
Knowing about this desire for bee solitude, if you are an outdoorsineer of the cowardly sort (or if you are traveling with a lady companion and wish to impress on her your gentlemanly nature) you may choose to concede to these twin demands of the bee subconscious, and in doing so placate the swarm so that you may pass in relative comfort.
You will want to carry a sack full of meat (you will of course have this on hand for all trips, regardless of bees). The meat may be of any style or consistency, though the bees will prefer smaller chunks that will be easier to fit in their mandibles.
Should you come upon a beehive, place the meat on the ground nearby and take several steps back. The bees will soon come out to investigate.
Now place another piece of meat on the ground so that the first piece is between you and the hive. What you are doing is making a trail of meat, which the bees will begin to follow. You are in it now – do not waver! Ending the trail too early will drive the bees into a furious meat-lust and you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed by their poisoned hell-stingers. Instead, continue the trail until you find a peaceful place – perhaps a shady glen by a river or a hillock overseeing a lush vista of scrub forest. You will know that you are in a location suitable to stop if you are overwhelmed by a sudden desire to read poetry or a feeling that perhaps your office job is not what is really important in life.
A location found (“Bully!”, you exclaim), you may now end your meat trail. The bees will reach the final piece and will begin to angrily swarm around, looking for more. But, if you have done this correctly, this will not last long. As they swarm, they will take in the beauty surrounding them and their furor will pass. The bees will enter a contemplative stage of their life cycle where they will question many of the decisions they have made, and their desire to sting will abate. They will return to their hive with minds changed and bellies full, and you will be able to pass on to your next adventure. You may find solace in knowing that you have done for the bees what I have done for you4.
Leave the meat on the ground, as it will likely be covered in dirt and bee saliva. You do not want to eat that.
Though bees are equipped with many advantages over man – such as a stinger, an ability to fly, and eyes that can see behind their heads – they do have one great disadvantage, and that is that they are profoundly stupid. The brain of a bee is so small that some entomologists believe it may be able to only contain one thought at a time. While this thought is often an intimidating one of malice and hate, you still ought to be able to outsmart a bee. Thus, we come upon a second technique for dealing with “the yellow menace” (bees).
This second technique, intrigue, will appeal to the outdoorsineer seeking to keep his mind sharp while in the great outdoors, as well as to certain ethnicities and religions that do not have a problem telling lies.
As with concession, you will want to carry a sack full of meat if you are attempting to deal with bees in this way. As you would in a concession, you will still want to place the meat on the ground near the beehive, and as in a concession, it does not really matter what kind of meat you use. Take a step back and the bees will predictably land on the meat and begin to feast.
And this is where the superior human brain triumphs over the feeble mind of the bee. For the bee cannot think into the future and question the source of the meat. The bee does not wonder at its luck, to find such a large source of food so close to its home. The bee’s mind can only hold one thought, and that thought is to eat the meat. And little does the bee suspect, you have poisoned the meat5.
You must stay back as far away from the poisoned bees as you can, for what happens next will not be pleasant. The bees will begin to vomit and shake. Some of them will be unable to fly and will roll around on the meat, drowning in its juices. Others will manage to flutter back to the nest, where they will convince the other bees that food itself is no longer good to eat6. Many of these messengers will then die, leading to a panic inside the hive.
Bees will turn on each other, blaming one another for bringing down the wrath of whatever bee god they worship. Bee larvae will be cast out onto the ground in the hopes of providing a sacrifice to the cruel bee gods. Anarchy will rule as the hive fractures in religious warfare. Legends of the poisoned meat will haunt bee dreams. Some bees will question these legends. Doubting bees will return to the meat and find, in their final agonizing moments, that the stories were true.
After about an hour, anyone left in the hive will be starving, confused, and melancholic. The hive civilization has been destroyed and is now ripe for takeover by bee extremists. But that will happen later. You will be able to pass the hive undisturbed, save perhaps for the troubled, accusing dreams that may visit you in the night.
There are times when you will not be able to deal with the bees in an indirect way. Perhaps your meat sack is empty due to a previous encounter with a hive or an alligator7. Perhaps your lady companion is not impressed by the behavior of a gentleman and would rather be with someone demonstrating more barbaric tendencies. Whatever the case may be, if you have chosen this option you are going to have to face the bees head on. You may as well force the confrontation and toss a couple of rocks at the hive.
There are a few things to know about fighting a swarm of bees.
First, it is not like fighting a bear, for there is no one weak spot such as the heart which, if incapacitated, will fell the entire creature. Rather, the entire body of the bee is a weak spot, but no one bee is of particular importance to the hive, save for the queen bee, who can only be attacked once her soldiers are dead. Before then, her shields are up. We know this.
A second and related thing to know is that most conventional weapons will have no effect on a swarm of bees. A sword is too easily dodged, a gun cannot hold enough bullets to dispatch every one of the thousands of bees, and brass knuckles expose the other parts of your hand to attacks from the bees’ stingers. A bomb would do the trick, but it is the opinion of this author that you should not be traipsing around the wilderness carrying a bomb.
A third thing to know about fighting a swarm of bees is that you will be severely outnumbered, and while this may go without saying, the psychological effects of this can be potent indeed. In the (translated) words of the great bee battler Chang Pyong, “to consider the odds is to guarantee getting stung”.
So, if you find yourself in the position of fighting a war where your weapons do not work, your combat training is of no use, and you are outnumbered, what can you do? You should not shove your lady companion headlong into the swarm of bees and then beat a hasty retreat while the bees are distractedly killing her8. No, instead we turn to the classic book of military strategy, the Art of War, and its recurring theme: send for reinforcements.
You must quickly find an anthill. Hurry, the bees are coming! Position yourself directly over the ants as the bees fly toward you, then dance away at the last moment. As you do, kick the anthill with the ball of your heel, destroying the entrance. Angry ants will pour out of the hole just as the bees fly over them. The ants will draw the only logical conclusion – that the bees have declared war on them – and they will respond with a show of force unseen in the animal kingdom. Ants will swarm over the low flying bees, bringing them to the ground and then chewing them into mulch. Other bees will swoop down to the rescue only to be similarly plucked from the sky by the jaws of their bug cousins. Ants hate bees anyway and have probably been waiting a long while for this opportunity. You will soon be forgotten.
As the battlefield becomes thick with the corpses of bees and ants, you may now feel safe to enter the fray, knowing that the odds have tilted considerably in your favor. Assist the ants by swatting bees to the ground, where your new allies can finish them off. If you know any martial arts moves, this is a great time to test them out – see if you can backflip over a squadron of bees, or if you can dispatch three of your winged enemies with a high kick. This is also a good time to try out any war cries, which are known to strike fear in the hearts of your opponents.
With the ants on your side, the fate of the battle is determined. When the last bee has fallen, reward your companions with some well-deserved ant food9. Then, with a grim expression on your face, set fire to the now-undefended empty beehive. Once the fire catches, turn and, in slow motion, without looking back, walk away.
- An intriguing theory purports that the carved “CROATOA” at the site of the disappearance may be an anagram for a bee-related fact, though what that fact is remains unknown. [↩]
- In contrast to the human psyche, which craves (in order from least to greatest desire): shelter, clothing, vacation, affirmation, a boyfriend, music, God, death of enemies, better clothing, and tattoos. [↩]
- The pelican actually craves fish, which some people claim is not meat. [↩]
- Do not attempt to market a version of this guide for bees. [↩]
- I held off this reveal for dramatic reasons but it should go without saying that you should poison the meat well before you encounter the bees, and not after the bees have already landed on it. The unfortunate story of an adventurer by the name of Clayton Persimmons illustrates why. Clayton made the foolish mistake of attempting to poison his meat after the bees had already landed, and found himself unable to get close enough to the product to do what needed be done. Trapped by his own lack of foresight, Claytus was forced to simply lay out a meat trail as far as he could go, but eventually he ran out of meat and the bees swarmed him. Nobody knows what happened next, as his guides ran away in fear, but when a rescue party returned two days later all that was left of Clayton was a skeleton that had been stripped of all flesh. A doctor examining the skeleton made the chilling observation that “even the bones had been stung.” [↩]
- They will do this by dancing. Bees communicate by dancing. [↩]
- There is no section on dealing with alligators in this guide, but it is largely the same as dealing with bees, except it’s in an aquatic setting and a few other important differences. [↩]
- Though this would work. [↩]
- Celery covered in peanut butter. [↩]