Of Bees and Dogs

If you’re a dog lover, you’d probably jump in and rescue a dog from a lot of things.

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Oscar here doesn’t look like he’d need much saving, does he?

I would, however, suggest a little discretion. This is from a person who has run into traffic in India at night to save a puppy…so if I warn you about something, it’s probably for a reason.

It was my second time in India. I was house-sitting for my boss, and we’d had a weird occurrence. A ton of bees had suddenly descended on one of the trees in the paddock.

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Now, at the time, I’d not ever seen a swarm of bees traveling like this. I’ve since seen it a few times, but it is still a source of great wonder to me.

I googled this phenomenon, of course, wondering why the heck the bees were acting like this. Was it an Indian bee thing (I have seen bees in the States swarming like this since that time)? Should I be concerned? Was there something I should do?

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It looked best to simply avoid the bees, and try to go about life as usual. They were on their way to a new home, and piled up like that with the Queen in the middle, so  that she was as safe as possible, even without a proper hive. The entire swarm formed a living hive for their Queen.

It was a little difficult to go about life as usual when the swarm had chosen a tree right at the entrance of the paddock, but by moving cautiously and slowly, we did ok. The horses actually seemed to like the bees. They would stand by the swarm, twitching occasionally, as if they’d been stung. I’ve never seen horses enjoy bee stings, but maybe they were just weird.

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The shape of the swarm changed from day to day, and there were often a number of bees flying around, protecting the area.

One day, I was out by the paddock, and took some time to watch the swarm and snap a few pictures (thank God for zoom, hey?). Oscar, the dog, decided that he needed to go a little closer. The bees didn’t like this, and attacked him, swarming around his head and stinging him, as he yipped and spun frantically to get away from them.

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No pictures from the actual attack…I was a little distracted.

Oscar was disoriented and couldn’t escape the bees, so I tried to help him, at least to direct him away from them. I wasn’t sure how many stings he could handle, and didn’t want to leave him to the bees. I was in jeans and a hoody, so I thought I at least had a fighting chance.

I got Oscar pointed down the driveway, and we both booked it, getting clear of the bees quickly. Fortunately for us, most of the bees were intent on protecting the swarm, and didn’t care to pursue us once we were out of the general area.

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I thought we were safe. Until there was a sharp pain in my right shoulder. One of the bees had gone down the back of my hoody, and was not happy to find itself there. I’ve been stung plenty of times, but I can’t recall a sting this bad. I ripped my hoody off, checking for more bees, dancing around as I tried to bat the last few bees away from Oscar’s head. This thoroughly amused the elderly Indian women who were collecting firewood just down the lane from us. They stopped what they were doing, and began to stare and laugh at me. At least my misfortunes bring people joy.

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Not the best shot, but I was in a lot of pain, the sting was still in there (the dark spot), and I was trying to take a picture of the back of my shoulder. I think I did pretty well.

By the following morning, my arm was swollen from shoulder to elbow. It remained that way for a few days, and continued to ache for at least a week after. Oscar, despite the fact that I am fairly certain that he was stung several times in the face, showed no ill effects at any point. The bees went back to ignoring everyone as we gave them a wider berth than before. And within a few days, they were gone, and life went back to normal.

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I suppose I don’t regret rescuing Oscar, even if he didn’t seem to truly need it, at the end of the day. But in the future, I’ll just try to keep any dogs for whom I am responsible, far away from bees. It’s safer for everyone, the bees included.

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