Shedding her fear of bees

The Herald’s Samantha Smylie, in a bee suit standing in front of the apiary. (Photo by Daniel Calleri)

Staff writer

As a child, I was taught that honeybees were my sworn enemy on the playground. During the summer and early fall, I saw friends at school and in the park being stung by bees. Their crying and swollen body parts scared me. For years, I did not intentionally go near a beehive and I would run from any bees encountered outside my home during the summer.

Last Friday, though, I found myself in the midst of almost 30,000 honeybees. Lab school teacher and head beekeeper, Daniel Calleri, and I installed a new bee colony.

During the afternoon, Calleri and I worked very fast to put together the beehives in the apiary of Lab’s garden located at 5800 block of Kenwood Ave. The apiary was created by Katie Harris and Calleri in 2013, which is when he received his training as a beekeeper.

As we worked, I was tasked with spraying the honeybees with sugar water while they were in crates before we transferred them to the hives. The bees were fixated with cleaning the sugar water off themselves and other bees.

One of the hive bodies that were assembled during the installation of the new bee colony and one of the crates that held almost 15,000 bees. (Photo by Samantha Smylie)

Calleri did the harder task of taking down each hive, cleaning them and removing dead bees. Later we both assembled each hive and transferred all of the bees into their new home. The calm honeybees were buzzing all around us and a few landed on my bee suit.

After the experience, I realized that I was socialized to be terrified of honeybees. Interacting with calm bees at Lab school’s apiary was not so bad. I am thankful that I had a bee suit to protect me; I saw no reason to take unnecessary chances of being stung.