I wasn’t quite ready to run this story, but four days ago it happened again. It wasn’t nearly as bad as last time because the air was much cooler and there were not nearly as many bees. I was mowing pasture and ran into a swarm of killer bees. I had overalls on and gloves, so they only stung me a few times on the neck. Summer before last, it was a much different story.
When you live in a swamp, you expect to run into critters on a daily basis. One day, however, I ran into some critters literally, that I didn’t expect. I knew they were around, but never expected to run into a nest of killer bees. I was doing some work in the pasture on my 65 year old tractor. It was a warm day and I was dressed accordingly. The t-shirt I was wearing left me highly exposed when the swarm engulfed me.
I was about 300 yards from the house when I drove my tractor into their nest, which was in a clump of salt grass on the ground. Unlike honey bees, which in the wild make their nests in trees, killer bees often make their nests on or near the ground. I drove the tractor into their nest and they immediately swarmed me. I threw the tractor into neutral and jumped off. I fell to the ground and the bees followed.
I got up quickly flailing my arms and took off running toward the house. The ground was uneven and I fell twice more on the trek. The farther I ran, the fewer bees followed, but when I finally reached the house, there were still a hundred or more bees following. I hurried through the door of the enclosed area of my back porch and slammed the door, then continued through the door at the other end of the porch hoping I could get away from the bees that still followed. I did elude the bees, but I had stings on my face, neck and arms, so many so, that I called Ellen and informed her that if I didn’t call her back in 30 minutes, to call an ambulance. Ellen was 140 miles away in San Antonio.
I went inside and took two Advil and a Benadryl. After thirty minutes or so, I had a slight headache, but no severe adverse reaction. I called Ellen and told her I seemed to be okay, then I decided I should get my tractor back to the house. I had no bee suit, so I improvised. I donned my overalls, made a hood out of a welding helmet and t-shirt, put on some gloves and boots and taped up the seams. When I reached the tractor, there were still a lot of bees around the still running tractor, but they could not hurt me now. I drove the tractor back to the house and parked it at the rear of my home. I then went back onto the porch and took off my makeshift bee suit. I was soaked in sweat as it was a warm day and there was no ventilation in my suit.
When I went back out to the tractor, there were still a dozen or so bees flying around and I noticed handfuls of dead bees around the exhaust manifold. The next morning, there were still a few bees around the tractor, but nothing to be concerned about. Persistent little bastards! I went inside and got a can of flying insect killer and sprayed the few remaining bees without getting stung. It’s a good day when you survive a potentially deadly encounter. Just another day in the swamp.