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This post is actually a few days late, but for good reason. I was out shooting more of my newly acquired annuals when I spotted a bumble bee just dangling from one of the Calibrachoa flowers. The day was partly cloudy and this had actually been the third bee I’d seen behaving rather sluggishly. I was quite pleased with my good fortune as I composed my shot, already creating the resulting post in my head which would be entitled “The Secret Life of Bees“.   

I never got to the post that night and the next day came and went as there were too many other things on my ‘To-Do’ list. So, I planned the post for Friday, never once thinking it would be ironically derailed.

“Quasimodo” (Golden Northern Bumble Bee with Calibrachoa Blossom) Nikon D300, 105mm F/2.8G Macro, F/4.5, 1/40s, ISO 640, Built-in i-TTL Balanced Fill Flash, -1.0EV

I find bees completely fascinating and have never been afraid. As far as I am concerned, these guys are little miracle workers as they are absolutely necessary for propagating the flowers I so love to photograph! I’ve never been stung, which is quite remarkable as I spend most of my time outdoors in their domain. Hubby, on the other hand, isn’t quite so lucky and has already been stung twice this summer. 

We actually discussed this very topic earlier in the day as I was rescuing (yet another) bee from drowning in the pool and happily watched it fly away to pollinate once again. I even said something like, “See? That is how it is done“,  referring sarcastically to his latest encounter where in the course of rescuing a drowning bee he managed to flip it back onto the float he was laying on where it promptly turned on him and stung him in the calf. (I chalked it up to bad karma on his part). 😉 

Okay, returning to Friday. We had just returned from the doctor since I’d been suffering from a blocked right ear for about a week and decided it wasn’t going to go away on its own. The doc prescribed Flonase and amoxicillin and as we were out grilling our evening’s dinner, hubby decided that I could use a hug since I was “broken”.  

Folks, I never saw it coming. Unbeknownst to moi, a Yellow Jacket was laying in wait on the back of hubby’s t-shirt where my right hand would ultimately land. What should have been a moment of comfort immediately turned into a scream of burning pain as the stinger embedded itself deep into my palm. (They say karma’s a bitch, right?) We promptly removed the stinger but my hand swelled and felt like someone was hammering a stake into it unless I kept it constantly encased in ice. I couldn’t believe that one small sting was causing so much pain!

It took about a day and a half for things to completely subside and for me to regain full, pain-free function of my hand (I’m right-handed so it has been an interesting couple of days to say the least). I’m glad to say I’m back but have alot of catching up to do! 

Despite my ordeal, I’m still not afraid of bees as technically, a Yellow Jacket is a wasp. But, at least for the time being, hubby now gets a once over before administering any future hugs. 🙂



  1. Oh dear… poor you. I’ve been stung by a bee once or twice. Not sure if the first time was a bee as it was so long ago, but the last time was actually on a wedding anniversary (mine, not the bee’s) so I was ultra-not-happy. However, bees die after they sting, unlike wasps, so I was sad for the bee as well as for myself.

    • Thanks, Val. I am not sure if a bee sting is different than a wasp sting (which is what I got). I am also not sure if the location of my sting had anything to do with it’s severity. All I know is I’ve never known such a burning radiating pain! I suppose I could have had some sort of allergic reaction to the venom but not so severe as to cause the throat constrictions that a few folks have to contend with. It’s just one of those things I guess. I survived and now I have an interesting tale to tell! 🙂

  2. Benadryl is your friend!

    • Ha! I did use Benadryl cream once the pain subsided enough that I could bear no longer having to ice the hand. Any other remedies (After Bite, baking soda paste, vinegar, toothpaste, etc.) did absolutely nothing for me! Turned out, Ice was my only friend!

      • Have you ever tried to take a Benadryl?? I’ve had fantastic luck the last several times I’ve been stung – with practically no swelling and much more mild pain than without. 🙂

      • Not for stings. We don’t usually have Benadryl in the house because neither myself nor my husband suffer from allergies. I recall a loooonnng time ago, having a box of Benadryl and I imagine at some point, they expired and we tossed them. BUT, after this recent sting (and hubby’s stings) you are making me believe having some ‘just in case’ is a good idea! Thanks! 🙂

  3. Ironic indeed! (I must say though, I promise I am not a bitch! LOL!)

    I agree with your feelings for the most part about bees. I’ve been stung a few times (including a somewhat embarrassing up-the-skirt incident while working the gardens at Old Sturbridge Village one time) but I really only dislike yellow jackets and wasps – they seem to sting for fun!

    • LOL! I thought you might have something to say about that! 🙂

      OMG! I now have this vision of you screaming and running while lifting your skirt! (Hubby has other embarassing sting stories as well – equally hilarious!)

      I will certainly be keeping my eye out for the wasps…only getting close to the nice bumbles! 🙂

  4. Perfect shot!! I didn’t know these kinds of bees sting? I always thought it was just the other ones (brown & yellow).
    What a story! So glad your hand is better again.
    Oh, and personally I think that karma (aka Karen) is really nice, and not a bitch at all 😉

    • Thanks, Michaela!

      Actually, bumbles can sting but rarely do. This little guy didn’t pay me no mind!

      Now Yellow Jackets (which are actually wasps and are mean-looking yellow/black striped guys) and hornets (which are brown/yellow), they DO like to sting! Even tho they are very aggressive in nature, still, I’ve never had a problem with them. I ignore them; they ignore me. This incident was purely accidential (alright, maybe a little fated for my earlier sarcastic behavior). The YJ wasn’t going after me, I imagine it stung purely out of defense as this large hand was bearing down! It didn’t continue to sting which they typically do when attacked, so I am lucky there! (It also didn’t go after Jim which I am sure, it certainly could have).

      Ha! Yeah, that Karen is pretty nice. It is her namesake we have to worry about! 😀

      • Heh, heh – thanks guys! Yeah, I imagine it was a pretty funny scene in my long denim skirt, striped top, sun bonnet and work boots! Too bad I don’t have a picture.

  5. I’m glad your hand is good again. That was a long time. Perhaps the thick skin is the reason why all the different tricks didn’t work. I’ll remember the ice next time someone gets a bee sting. Which happens very rarely.
    I like your image.

    • Thank you, Carsten! Aside from a little bit of an itch, my hand is good. What a relief! 🙂

      It was a long time. If it wasn’t so late at night when I realized the pain wasn’t really going away, I probably would have trotted off to the doctor! Having no other experience to compare to I can’t say if this is the reaction I will always have. My hope is that it was purely because it was my palm, with no thick muscle behind and all those tender nerve endings right at the surface!

  6. Awwww what a precious little bumble bee. Beautiful capture and perfect dof. Too bad you you got stung. Yellow jackets are the worst >:(.

    • Thanks, Amber!

      Sigh. Yeah. There are worst things than Yellow Jackets but boy, I don’t want to experience that kind of pain ever again!

  7. Beautiful shot, I like bees as well. Great story 🙂

    • Thanks much, Consuelo!

      Did make for a pretty good story…tho, could’ve done without the pain! 🙂

  8. Oh dear. My only sting was a wasp sting as well. In my case, the wasp was hiding inside a cloth napkin on my dining room table. It was quite the surprise, but luckily I did not get the nasty reaction that you did. Be well.

    • Sneaky little critters, aren’t they??

      Thank you, Lynn! I’m doing good except for some residual itching and soreness in my hand. From what I’ve read about YJ stings, I can expect this to last for a few more days. Funny, I know I like to learn as much about my natural environment as I can but this is certainly one (painful) lesson I could have done without! 🙂

  9. Ouch. Maybe the wasp was just jealous you like photographing bees instead of them 🙂

  10. You obviously take after your father. He got stung on the hand by a YJ about a month ago and it bothered him for over a week.

    • I can see why it bothered him for over a week! If you’ve never been stung, you can’t even begin to understand.

  11. I’m afraid of any kind of insect that has the ability to sting. I do a little jig everytime one comes around me. I’m glad your hand is feeling better. I’ve been stung a couple of times…no fun!

    This photo is great….but of course, I love all your stuff!

    • After being stung, I should be afraid! But, I’m really not. I tend to not be afraid of things that are so rare and completely out of my control. I have too many other things to worry about!

      Thanks, Jan! You are very sweet! 🙂

  12. Oh, so this was what you were referring to with your comment this morning. That’ll teach ya! LOL

    That must have hurt. Our hands are very sensitive. That was quite a reaction. You might want to mention that to your doctor.

    • Sorry for the confusion! Oh well, now you all caught up! I doubt I’ll learn… 😉

      You have no idea! I’ve never felt pain like that…especially one that just doesn’t go away. I’m going for a physical in a few weeks (after my ear is all better) and I’ll be sure to ask about my reaction. Maybe it was more sever than most and the doc will be able to tell me how I should treat in the future (tho I really, really hope this was my first and last sting – ever!) 🙂

  13. Nice picture – but what a bad creature, this Yellow Jacket, I’m really sorry for your hand. Good it is better again. Is a YJ a wasp – or? I suppose we do not have those here. At this time of the year wasps are everywhere here.
    1½ weeks ago I got an infection in my right elbow – it took 1 week before I could use my right arm again, and I never found out why and how this infection came. But it IS BAD to do without the right arm!

    • Thanks, Truels! I like the fuzzy-wuzzy bumbles.

      Well, you can’t really blame the YJ now can you? Afterall, s/he was just doing what YJ’s do. I’m okay. Just one of those things and I’ve often wondered if I was allergic to stings. Good to know I am not! Yellow Jackets are wasps. I think bees in general are the nicer of the insect species! 🙂

      Ouch! That sound painful and inconvenient! Did you become quite dexterous with your left arm?

      • Yes, the left hand and arm became (a little) more dexterous. Maybe I should go on using it more??! But Tracy: What is fuzzy-wuzzy bumbles (sorry – my English-Danish dictionary did not help me here!)

      • lol! Sorry Truels for using American slang that might confuse international readers!

        I was simply referring to bumble bees which are fuzzy and ‘cute’ (if a bee can be considered cute!) in comparison to wasps.

        The term ‘Fuzzy-Wuzzy’ (became popular in American language because of the following nursery rhyme:

        Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy, was he?

        In doing research, it appears this rhyme dates from colonial times and actually refers to members of an East African nomadic tribe! Who knew!

  14. OUCH… Sounds painful… Hopefully all’s better now though… Gotta luv the furry little critters though… 🙂

    • Oh, yes! Painful indeed! Things are better with the hand – thanks! Still got that blocked right ear, though. Hmmm, not a good month for my right-side, huh? 😉

      Ha! Yes, the furry little critters are lpreferred, I have to admit I’ve been bit by a few of them, too!

      • Ouch again… but then I was referring to the fuzzy bees when speaking of the furry critters… unless your bees have teeth too… lol… 😉

      • LOL! Ooops, my mistake!

        Wellll, actually, bees DO have teeth of sorts and CAN bite. Seriously! I’m not kidding! 🙂

  15. a few months ago i was having a picnic with my brother and sister and my brother and i were playing with a volleyball, barefoot. bro says “i just know i’m going to get stung by a bee,” and the MOMENT he says the word “bee” i step on one and get stung! we continued the game with shoes on.

    anyway, it just seemed like we were all sharing our sting stories.

    cool photo. awesome title.

    • lol! That’s quite a story, Stephen! 🙂 I wish my sting had been as in consequential! I still have a small welt on my palm and with our high temps this week, it has itched like crazy! My neighbor who is a nurse says it takes quite awhile for our systems to fully ged rid of YJ venom and that high heat aggravates the situation. Lucky me!

      Now, the fuzzy bumble in the photo…s/he is a nice little bee! 🙂

      Thanks, Stephen! 🙂

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