Friday, June 7, 2013

The Inexplicable Bee Attack at Kappy's Boats, July 1971

One of my chores as a teenager was to mow the lawn down at the waterfront. One morning this mundane task quickly became an adrenaline-filled and nightmarish experience. Our family owned two very long docks and rented boat spaces to summer residents in our neighborhood. The docks were crowded with boats and vacationers that morning. I gassed up the little 18 inch mower and pushed it down the dirt road to the boat livery. It was pretty warm out for July, probably pushing 75 degrees. I started it and just mowed as usual, thinking about waterskiing later that day if the water kept calm. Back and forth I pushed the little mower, the Briggs just chugging away...then I felt a bug hit me on the neck, then another smacking my back, and I heard buzzing near my ear. I stopped and turned around to to see bees, Yellow-Jackets, flying out of a hole in the ground that I had just mowed over! I let go of the mower and just ran towards the water, the Yellow-Jackets swarming after me. I ran down the boat launch, took a huge breath of air, and plunged into the water. I had the idea to hold my breath as long as I could in hopes the Yellow-Jackets would give up on me and buzz away. I stayed under I don't know how long, until my lungs were about to burst. I lunged up to get more air and go right back under in case the bees were still around, and in that brief second I was getting my air I saw that the bees were attacking all those innocent people on the docks. They were screaming and dancing and yelling and swatting them away as I re-entered the water. I slowly swam away underwater, under one dock to the other side as far as I could go, maybe 50 feet away from the the area under attack. When I re-surfaced, people were running off the docks back up the hill to escape the area. A few were still in their boats. One little girl had been stung and she was crying, her Mom trying to comfort her. I slowly walked ashore. The mower was still sitting there, running on high. I switched it off and walked away. I finished the job later, after I poured kerosene down the bee-hole and lit it. I heard the little girl was taken to the doctor for the bee-sting. I don't believe anyone in the neighborhood ever connect me with the bee attack at all.