Reflection: Interspecies Relationships
A Bee or Three (And Me)
By Erik Shalat (05/06/13 01:39:12)
Related animal: Insect

Iíve been taking a lot of pictures of bees recently. I have a crippling fear of bees that developed when I was seven and I was stung on the foot entering a car. Bees are, visually, one of my favorite creatures. The gold and black patterns of their fur makes them look for lack of a better word, really cute. I enjoy seeing them in still images, but when I hear buzzing I instinctually react by panicking. My girlfriend and I have argued about bees, which is a silly thing to argue about but it has happened to me so I suppose my life is just silly like that. She wants to get a matching tattoo of a bee to match one that her sister is getting. When I told her I didnít like bees she didnít understand why. I said I was afraid of the stingers and she said that she had never been stung, which I called her out on.

I am frequently in the art building because of my major, and recently iíve noticed an abundance of bees lying on the pavement of the second floor of the building. In this docile state, iíve been able to sit down, take pictures of them, draw from them, and really just examine their habits. I make sure to check that theyíre not just dead, but I still have no idea why there are so many in that location specifically. The bees donít fly away, they donít try to escape on their little legs, they just stay in one spot and make their little bee movements.

Iíve seen the little undulations of their thorax, the way they clean themselves with their front arms, and the way their wings occasionally flutter. For me to get so close to something that I am so afraid of has made me rethink my fear. The terminal pain of a bee sting seemed daunting as a child when I had a lower pain threshold, but now I have been through much worse pain. I take my shots without fear when I go in for a check up. What does a bee sting amount to? Not much.

Iíve taken really close-up pictures of all the bees iíve come across, as well as a few videos. This has been going on for about 2 weeks now, and itís inspired a lot of my artwork for my other classes. If I keep taking pictures of these bees, I figure I can blow them up and display that as an exhibit by the end of the year. The artwork is more about how I have managed to come so close, in terms of physical distance, to something that I have a pathological fear of. Iíve also in the process been learning much about these small creatures; for instance, they donít die instantly after stinging. Thats a common myth. The truth is that when they sting you the barbs can get in so deep that pulling it out will pull off their abdomen, but that only happens when the sting-victim has really tough skin. Which means that bees can sting and not die, over and over again. This reinstates my fear a bit.

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Comment by vkittle (05/22/13 20:41:34):
I had no idea that bees don't necessarily die after they sting someone! Personally, I'm always paranoid that they're going to sting me. And now I guess they can regrow their stingers! I suppose I've gone 22 years now without being stung, so maybe my fear is a little misplaced. I also agree that they are really cute. Usually I find the small creepy, crawly, flying things pretty disgusting, but bees are an exception.