I’ll Bee Damned

I would say a good indicator on whether or not you are a friend of mine or a GOOD friend of mine is whether or not you know about my rather irrational fear of bees.

I think it began when I was about 14 and sleeping on the couch one summer night in my living room, because the living room had a ceiling fan and my bedroom didn’t. I was half asleep when I had one of those little, impossible to reach itches in the middle of my back. I rolled my shoulder blades together, and as it turns out the little itch of a bee was nestling down for the night and didn’t like my motions…

However, it could go further back to when I was a baby and got stung on the forehead. I really don’t remember that much though… so who’s to say.
Regardless, fear. Panic soaked in sweat, drenched in adrenaline, steeped in fear. That’s what confronts me when forced to share space with the flashily dressed stingmongers. I can focus on nothing else. I could be in a gym or a closet (gym preferred) with a bee and my attention to it supercedes even the most rudimentary functions of my central nervous system.

So, that said. Don’t I learn today that Asia, and particularly mountainous regions of North Eastern Asia, are home to the world’s largest hornet. How big is it you ask? This big:

It’s just wrong. Gaak! It freaks me out just looking at it, but like it’s in the same room with me, I can do nothing but stare at it. I’m powerless. There’s an excessive amount of [backspace] use on this post because my hands are twitching.

Here are some of the heighlights of what this little bee-otch is all about (from FreeDictionary.com).

  • The stinger of the Asian giant hornet is about a quarter-inch (6 mm) in length, and injects an especially potent venom that contains an enzyme so strong that it can dissolve human tissue.
  • Masato Ono, an entomologist at Tamagawa University near Tokyo, described the sensation [of being stung] as feeling “like a hot nail through my leg.
  • Like all hornets, V. mandarinia [fancy for Big F’in’ Bee] can sting repeatedly, and do so when they prey on bees and other insects [and presumably would with me too].
  • If a person is stung by the giant hornet and does not receive prompt medical treatment, he or she may die from a reaction to the venom. About 40 people die each year after being stung by giant hornets, mainly as a result of an allergic reaction to the venom.
  • The hornets can devastate a colony of honeybees: a single hornet can kill as many as 40 honeybees per minute; it takes only a few of these hornets a few hours to exterminate the population of a 30,000-member honeybee hive, leaving a trail of severed insect heads and limbs.
  • In Japan’s mountain villages, the hornets are valued as part of the basic diet. They are eaten deep fried or as a kind of hornet sashimi.

So yeah, I’m REAL comfortable about all the loose-fit screens in my apartment. No matter what I do, I’m going to ignore those late-night back itches.

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