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Honeybees win on mulched battleground


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It seems that war has broken out in my yard.

I knew it was bad when I woke up last week and felt a “little puffy” on the left side of my face, top of my head and the left side of my neck.

The second clue that it was worse than I thought was when I asked one of my adoring daughters if I looked swollen and she answered: “I can’t tell, Mom.” Then after she actually glanced at me, she quickly looked away, shielding her eyes with her arm from the hideous sight of my face, and yelled squeamishly, “Oh my gosh, what happened?”

“Your father’s bees.” (It’s always a possessive pronoun attached to my husband’s name if the dogs, children or honeybees have misbehaved.)

After canceling my modeling shoot for the day, I later had to stand before the interrogation sergeant:

“Did you mow in front of the hives?”

“No, sir, I did not.”

“Were you too close to the front of the hives?”

“No, sir, I was not.”

Most husbands would lovingly and simply ask the obvious questions: “Honey, are you OK? Can I get you an ice pack?”

Not mine.

His first question was: “How many casualties?”

“Only two, sir. But there is one prisoner-of-war holed up in the brig, because he rode in on my hair, when I came marching in from the battleground, sir.”

“Injured?”

“No, sir. I ran out and and shut the bathroom door while she was still buzzing and dive-bombing my head — she’s definitely uninjured, sir.”

I’m not sure, because my ear was still swelling up, but I’m pretty sure I heard my husband say something like, “At ease wife, you’re dismissed.”

Well, it’s too bad for the six hives of about 300,000 honeybees; our relationship has now changed.

It was only two weeks ago that I watched from a mere five feet away as my beekeeping husband and his third-generation beekeeping friend and mentor checked the hives, splitting two active hives to fill two inactive ones. I sauntered over wearing shorts and a T-shirt with my trowel in hand to watch the two men in their white bee-suits and hoods check on the queens.

I love watching the outgoing and incoming flight patterns of scout bees and listening to the collective Indy 500 hum of an active hive. And I admit I do cross the line of common sense sometimes.

But the day of the battle I was merely putting down some mulch around the flower beds at the sides of their hive area, attempting to make the hive area look picturesque. A few of the militant honeybees obviously thought they were under attack.

They won, I retreated.

Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters.

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