When I was a child, I hated bees. Upon reflection, it was down to one incident, and it really wasn’t their fault. I was super excited to be spending the day in the local children’s Lido with friends and my Mum, and I was pigtailed up and ready to dive into the action in my new frilly swimsuit. So ready, in fact that I didn’t notice the bee that was drowning at the side of the pool. In its dying breaths, it obviously saw my gargantuan four year old foot coming towards it from the sky, and stuck its stinger up in a final bid for its life. I screamed as the sting pierced my skin, and it took my Mum ages to calm me down and get in the pool. I was afraid of water as a child, and convinced that the pain in my foot had something to do with the water.
From that moment on, I hated anything yellow, black and stripy. My mum tried to explain to me that there was a difference between bees and wasps; that bees were bumbling and rounder and were often like people searching for lost keys or running late for a meeting. They didn’t mean any harm, and if they stung you it was to protect themselves, but it was just as bad for you as it was for them, as they lost their sting, and died. I never really understood how stinging was a protection of their life however, as they died as soon as their sting penetrated your skin.
Wasps on the other hand were meaner; a kind of slimmer, snippier creature, like my biology teacher at school. Never far from children being happy, you would hear her shout “MissssssssTinker!” and knew you were in trouble. They stung left right and centre as it meant nothing to them. There was a distinct difference.
And then when I was in senior school a boy swore that he had been stung by a hornet. By this time I was a bit more rational and would merely flap when the little critters came near me (to cries from my father of “Its more scared of you than you are of it!” what a parent thing to say) but the idea of a new super bug, the hornet, that was fabled to be the size of my head and would sting me repeatedly like a shot gun, only stopping for more ammunition, was a fear to be contended with. Mum argued the point “there are no such thing!” oh yes there are, I replied after looking on Encarta (those were the days!) “Well they aren’t indigenous to this country!” was the retort. I wasn’t convinced.
As the years have gone past I have become less scared of the black and yellow insects, and now will sit still when they fly around me, or merely sweep them with a magazine. One friend is certain that you must not kill them as they call their friends with their dying breaths; whether this is true or not I don’t like killing them for the sake of things, it seems a little unfair.
But I’m still not convinced that there is much point of a wasp.
What are you scared of?