Killer Bees, in the Middle of a Miracle by Betty Mason Arthurs
“What on earth? Another killer bee attack?” My heart sank as I read the newspaper.
Later I told my husband that once again our local Arizona newspaper reported, in November, 2015, that three adults and three children needed treatment in the hospital after a bee attack that stretched over a two-block-long area in the city south of us, Maricopa. One adult had nearly 300 stings, fortunately he survived. The article brought back bad memories of our own backyard killers.
Then a month ago bees had secretly slipped in through a crack under the eaves of a home in Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix, and formed a hive. Something finally got them riled and like miniature fighter jets they roared through the house killing three dogs. The home owner and her children were stung along with five cats, but none were seriously hurt. The firefighters sprayed the bees with foam ending the crisis.
I find the history of killer bees fascinating. They are also known as Africanized honeybees, which are the result of experiments in Brazil decades ago when scientists crossbred the European honeybee and the African honeybee in an effort to increase honey production. In 1957, 26 swarms accidentally escaped and by 1985 spread to North America. Too bad the golden nectar producers were more easily provoked, unusually defensive of their queens and hives and known to chase its enemies for up two miles when they attack…and kill.
In our backyard, we have citrus trees, red bouganvillea, brittle bush, oleander and hibiscus bushes, mesquite trees and numerous fragrant flowers. Because of our mild winter climate in the southwest, vegetation can bloom year round. Our grandchildren can swim, play baseball using Wiffle balls, and run races on our half acre. Our youngest grandson, Donovan, who is eight years old, loves to explore every inch of the yard, finding lizards and bugs. He gently grabs and shakes his creepy-crawlies into small plastic containers. They become his prized possessions to take home. He tells us, “I’m a bug scientist.”
We didn’t know our family was in the middle of a miracle in October 2015, when my husband John hired a landscaper and his workers to trim our large mesquite tree. Walking by the pop-up camper, he heard a buzzing, stopped and watched a few bees going in and out of a vent hole in the camper. He sprayed the hole with some pesticide. Everyone ran as the bees blasted out and flew into the mesquite tree, preparing to attack. Soon hundreds of swarming, angry bees lined the branches.
John called an expert in bee removal who was able to come right away. Without any protective gear, the “bee killer” gassed the swarm and instantly they were dead. Inside the camper they found fifty pounds of honey which was poisoned by the gas. Fifty pounds! “If you don’t remove that honey, the bees that escaped will return,” the expert told us. How sad to have to destroy the honey makers and their luscious produce.
All the “what ifs” flooded my mind when the bees were destroyed. After all the times Donovan played around that camper, what if he had been attacked? Would our small guy have survived? Our neighbor’s grandchildren are often in their backyard for a swim, what if the bees had gone after them and their two dogs? A block away is an elementary school and recess time could have become a disaster. Killer bees once chased a man in his pickup truck two miles down a country road in Tucson, Arizona.
Yes, I believe we were living a miracle that only God could orchestrate. And miracles of miracles, not one bee stung anyone. The Bible in Psalm 91, King James Version, says that the Lord will “deliver thee from the noisome pestilence.” As a Christian I can be comforted because this scripture also says, “Thou shalt not be afraid…for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” God’s not a good luck charm, He’s a merciful Rescuer who we need to thank each day.
What has been your experience with bees? When have you personally experienced a miracle?