The Art of Fighting Bees

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”.

1. CONCESSION

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.

2. INTRIGUE

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.

3. GENOCIDE

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.

– Winning their hearts and minds and mandibles and thoraxes.

 

  1. 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. []
  2. 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. []
  3. The pelican actually craves fish, which some people claim is not meat. []
  4. Do not attempt to market a version of this guide for bees. []
  5. 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.” []
  6. They will do this by dancing.  Bees communicate by dancing. []
  7. 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. []
  8. Though this would work. []
  9. Celery covered in peanut butter. []
Categories: 5: Animals You May See | Leave a comment

How to Set Up a Tent, Or, The Miracle of Inside, Outside: PT 3

SHELTERS YOU CAN MAKE YOURSELF

(for PART 1: An Introduction to Tents click here)

A true outdoorsineer might prefer to create his own inside outside. Below are shelters you can make yourself. All can be constructed of available materials and little know how.

The Stick with a Tarp Over It

This is a fine tent, one you would be happy to trundle into after a long day on the trail. To make this tent, start by finding a sturdy, straight stick, preferably from a young tree that still has some spring in it. If you are without an ax or hatchet, this is a great opportunity to rob a beaver of his sticks. The satisfaction of beaver robbing should not be underestimated. Once you have your stick, position it horizontally four to five feet above the ground. Use saplings or y shaped sticks to hold it in place. Next lay a tarp over it. Congratulations, you have made a tent!

The idea is very similar to the stick with a bear pelt tent discussed earlier. However, there is one fundamental difference, by using a tarp, you can avoid the bear pelt. This eliminates the risk of running into a bear and being disappointed.

The Wigwam

Wigwams are a slightly more permanent shelter of traditional Native American design. You begin with a circle drawn in the ground of 10 to 12 ft diameter. Next, bend young saplings and drive them into the ground along the circle’s circumference, making a series of arches highest in the middle. Weave additional saplings along the base of the arches, providing support. Then, to ensure a tight fit take a large quantity of peyote – or mescaline, if peyote is unavailable – and bury yourself neck deep in the sand.

Await your spirit animal. If your animal is a moose, cougar, owl, field mouse, scorpion, or pygmy elephant your shelter will be strong. If it is any other animal you must begin again in the next life.

If your spirit journey was a success begin looking for large sections of bark to weave at the top of your arches. This will be the foundation of your roof. I have found that this is an excellent time to take more peyote and in the following dreamscape murder my father, bed my mother, and watch others grow envious of my penis. Depending on the amount of peyote available you should be done in a matter of hours or months and have a sturdy wigwam, or a miserable pile of sticks, or nothing. If you have nothing, go steal a stick from a beaver and make a Stick With A Tarp On It (see previous section).

If you have difficulty seeing your spirit animal, ingest more peyote.

The Rock

The rock is a rock you find and sleep on. Make sure to sleep on top of the rock and not under it. The rest you should be able to handle on your own. Watch out for phlogiston.

The Abandoned Car

This is a fine shelter: it is warm, sturdy, and only sometimes full of raccoon babies and their aggressive mother. Also called the Tennessee Summer home, this shelter is particularly prevalent in the wilds of Southern United States or anywhere that used to be the Soviet Union. Already equipped with soft seats, doors, windows, and rusted metal (which has obvious potential for weaponry and entertainment) these are truly backcountry treasures.

The Murder Shed

Do not let the name throw you, the murder shed is actually a very genial shelter for the savvy outdoorsineer. The truth is that in the course of your adventurous wandering you will frequent many of the same places so loved by murderers. Dark forests, lonely mountains, caves, abandoned subway systems – these are all locations rife with both adventures and murders. So, why not take advantage?

When a murderer builds a murder shed he is looking for a number of specific features. He wants it to be off the beaten track, away from the prying eyes of both police and renegade police with nothing to lose, able to withstand frenzied escape attempts from multiple victims over many years, sound proof, and cozy. Well, the outdoorsineer too wants to be off the beaten track. And if a shelter is built to withstand the frenzied escape attempts of multiple victims over many years, it will certainly stand up to a little weather. Add the sound proofing to boot and you have yourself a mighty fine shelter.

Before bedding down in a murder shed take your time to do some research. First, find out if the murderer is in the shed. If they are, you may want to try back later. Second, find out if the murderer is near the shed or might be returning soon. For instance, if a victim is recently chained to a wall inside the shed, you might want to construct a wigwam or stick with a tarp over it nearby and wait until the murderer is finished.

Prior to the rise of conservation movement in the 1970’s, it was common practice for the outdoorsineer to intervene in a scenario like this. It was a different time then. Travelers would carve their names into red wood trees, litter freely, break off pieces of stalactites as souvenirs, and graffiti their favorite Big Band leaders onto the sides of mountains. We have since learned that for the wild to remain wild we must be careful to treat all of nature with respect. Murderers are no different from endangered mushrooms or virgin riparian zones. If every victim in every murder shed in every forest were rescued by passers by, soon there would be no murderers in the woods. The ecosystem would break down and this essential piece of nature, murderers, would go the way of the condor.

Murderers, like all creatures encountered in the woods, are best left undisturbed. Remember, you are a just a visitor in the wilderness, leave only footsteps and take only pictures1.

After carefully observing the murderer in his habitat you should be able to discern his behaviors. Once it looks like the murderer is vacating the shed for a while, feel free to make yourself at home. Carefully move whatever human remains are left to one side of the shelter and spread out your sleeping bag. Sometimes murderers do a bad job and leave their victims mortally wounded but not yet dead. I have found that good cotton balls stuffed deep into the ears drown out their pleas admirably. Remember, leave the woods as you found them for the next outdoorsman to enjoy.

CONCLUSION- A WORD OF CAUTION

Now that you have a tent, there is something you must know. You may have very well sown the seeds of your own destruction, because the vast majority of outdoor accidents happen within 5 miles of a tent. There are some who say this is because if you are not sleeping in your tent you are carrying it on your back, or at least near it in camp. The author is not sold on this convenient logic and encourages the greatest caution around these dangerous devices.

An outdoorsineer should never sleep in a tent. In fact, most weathered outdoorsmen refuse to even enter a tent unless they are already trapped within a larger tent and choose to erect a small tent for protection from the larger tent.

So why have we learned about tents at all? First of all, knowledge is always good to have. Second, for reasons of style, tents are an essential part of outdoorsineering gear. Just like an untrustworthy cannibal guide who is asked which fork in the river does not lead to a cannibal camp of hungry cannibals, they must be part of the expedition regardless of their obvious danger.

Thankfully, due to extreme prudence, no outdoorsman has yet fallen to a tent related outdoorsineering accidents. In fact, no one even knows what these accidents would be as they have never occurred. That is a safety record all outdoorsmen can take pride in. It is true that in order to avoid tents many have died of exposure while sleeping on a rock or drowned attempting to shelter under a pond, but these are quite normal outdoorsineering deaths2.

So go out there and find the tent that’s right for you and then, once in the outdoors, heave your tent into a crevasse. You are on your way!

  1. Under no circumstances should you allow the murderer to see you take pictures of the crime scene. []
  2. There is one famous case of a certain outdoorsman Remmington Westchester Glock the 6th who escaped a tent related accident quite historically. R.W.G the 6th was reposing in his sleeping log when a hawk settled nearby and dropped what may have been a tent or possibly a dead rabbit. On the off chance it was a tent, R.W.G. the 6th knew he needed to act quickly before the tent accident had a chance to take effect. Using surprising calm he evaluated his position and promptly shot himself. His sage actions surely saved him from death by tent. []
Categories: 4: The Hunt for Shelter | Leave a comment

How to Set Up a Tent, Or, The Miracle of Inside, Outside: PT 2

PART 2: A HISTORY OF TENTS WITH MODERN EXAMPLES

(for PART 1: An Introduction to Tents click here)

Tents were created, as most things in human history, out of necessity. Early man grew tired of lying exposed on boulders, free to be ravaged by the elements – particularly when the elements at that time included phlogiston1. He sought shelter in caves, but learned quickly that the shame of living like a bear, or their ancient cousins, the saber-toothed bear, was too great.

Lacking the advanced tools and mechanical abilities to hire a sub- contractor, early man then experimented with temporary shelters made from materials around him. Large rocks were effective at keeping out the elements but were also effective at crushing those under them. Piles of bear pelts2. were soft and did not crush but lacked the structural stiffness to make living under them pleasant. Branches solved some of these problems but provided absolutely no shelter and only the dumbest early men lived in a pile of branches.

Finally, a clever ancestor combined the three elements by erecting a branch frame, covering it with a bear pelt, and holding down the corners with rocks. This is a documented fact of history and the birth of the tent.

The modern tent has changed very little from the early tents of yore3. An advanced breathable waterproof nylon fabric is affixed to light carbon fiber or aluminum micro poles to form a stiff, weatherproof structure that is booth easy to maintain and portable. Just like a bear pelt and a branch. Many modern tents also include a ground cloth and fly to further insulate them from inclement weather and to give them a jaunty sporting air.

A good tent can be used in any climate, from the most sweltering jungles, to the coldest mountaintops, to the most temperate temperate zones. There are many good tents on the market and it is worth your time investing in a quality one.

THE TYPES OF TENTS

The A-Frame or ‘Boy Scout’ Tent

This is a classic tent familiar to anyone who has spent Halloween collecting money for UNICEF instead of collecting candy. This tent is in the classic A-frame design, meaning a triangular tent with an opening at one side. It is durable, easy to pack for even a boy, and has plenty of room for a comfortable night in the woods. For the adult outdoorsineer, the defining feature of this tent is that you stole it from a Boy Scout. In fact, the business about the A-Frame and the durability is of secondary importance. What matters is that it was stolen from a young boy, preferably in the woods.

Now, this theft is not as cruel as it sounds. How else will he learn if all that work on merit badges and wilderness survival was worth his time? In fact, some Boy Scout troops, recognizing the obvious benefits, encourage boy tent stealing. If you were a scout yourself, I am sure you recall with a great nostalgia the time a friendly woodsman ‘put you out’ so to speak. I remember well the night I spent clutching my Boy Scout knife and frantically blowing my emergency whistle while the crazed wild man hunted my troop mates one by one, stealing their tents and laughing as they fell, scattering them into the dark. Then came the silence, and the knowledge of being alone in the woods.

I survived three months in that ravine. I collected the survivors into a tribe and we built a new society. The adults were dead and good riddance. After all, they were the ones who had led us to a campsite where crazed a woodsman could attack us. Charlie was the best at knots and he created a series of sleeping platforms in the trees. Just in the nick of time, it turned out, as it were not but hours before the wolves found us.

How they howled trying to get up into our tree platforms.

Eric, who had finished the archery merit badge, brought down a deer. Drop Foot Jimmy field dressed it and we spitted it. That was the night of first meat. Drop Foot Jimmy got that name when Jon Michelson, who had earned the First Aid Merit Badge, cut off his foot and ‘dropped it’ down to the wolves to quite them. He had drawn the shortest straw.

That should be all you need to know about the Boy Scout Tent.

The Dome Tent

Many modern tents are of the Dome variety. Often lighter than A- frames and able to withstand harsher weather, the Dome tent is a structurally sound, safe and functional tent. Of course, it is undeniably girly. Maybe this does not bother you. Maybe you are comfortable in your sexuality. As comfortable as a girly caterpillar (you) in a girly cocoon (a dome tent), ready to turn into a girly butterfly (you again). In my experience, I have punched a whale, surfed a lava flow, and peed on an adult mountain lion to mark it as my own and I would not be caught dead in a Dome tent. Of course, this decision is completely up to you.

Pavilions

The Pavilion is a large tent often reserved for formal occasions. Not to be confused with its very different cousin, the Marquee. The Marquee is also a large tent often used at formal occasions and it could not be more different than the Pavilion. For instance, where the Pavilion tent came to prominence during the renaissance on the European continent the Marquee did too. Unlike the Marquee, which is historically constructed of canvass and held up with long wooden poles, the Pavilion is constructed identically. Also, while you will often see a Marquee adorned with pennants at its pinnacles, Pavilions are often, with similar frequency, adorned the same way. This distinction cannot be emphasized enough as one is a serviceable tent and the other is likewise.

For shelters you can make yourself, see PART 3: Shelters You Can Make Yourself.

  1. Thankfully in the late 18th century A.D. Lavoisier disproved the existence of the fire element by demonstrating mass conversion during combustion. Upon the conclusion of this experiment, all the world’s phlogiston disappeared in what is now known as “the great poof”. []
  2. Then as now bear pelts were very easy to obtain as bears, often forgetting they were not snakes, would kill themselves in an effort to shed their pelts. []
  3. And post-yore []
Categories: 4: The Hunt for Shelter | Leave a comment

Proudly powered by WordPress Theme: Adventure Journal by Contexture International.