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How To Get A Bee Phobia Without Really Trying.

August 28, 2010

This part of Bosnia, very remote and on the border of Croatia which saw so much fighting during the war, the air feels different. Everything is still, yet I don’t find it peaceful. There’s a sadness about this place that I can’t pinpoint.

From the front door, you can see the trees that were the front line of Serbs, Muslims and Croats shooting each other. So much blood has been shed in this area and I think the energy of the land has been altered. I’m sure much of it is due to the stories I’m hearing (via my translating husband). Everyone here has a story and they all want to be heard.

The closest neighbor is a woman who lives alone on her farm with a son nearby to help her. She has the remnants of her original house along with a barn and newer house. The newer house has bullet holes  scattered along one outer wall.

During the war, she and her husband were the front line, and fed/housed soldiers while dodging bullets and mortars. Her son takes us on a tour of the trench that separated the forces – less than the width of my son’s soccer pitch – and tells us of still finding bullet casings in his cornstalks.

In the evening, a cousin and her husband come by for coffee and my father-in-law disappears with the kids. I realize they’re at the bee hives and go to collect them: although the bees are supposedly “sleeping”, they’re still bees.

I tell them to head back to the house and we back away as my father-in-law lets bees crawl on his hand. I feel a hard pinch on my thigh and realize I’ve been stung. At the same moment, I hear buzzing near my ears. Nope, make that in my ears. I have bees swarming my hair. If you know about my thick hair, you can imagine the phobia I have about animals like bats or, um, BEES, getting stuck in there.

I go to my 3-year-old daughter just as she reaches for her back and falls to the ground, screaming like she’s been shot. I grab her and my son, running to the house and smacking my own head, which has just been stung.

The buzzing around my head is relentless, even as we reach my husband. I run upstairs, hysterical, smacking my own head like a psychopath, followed by my husband and mother-in-law.

The buzzing finally stops and I run my fingers through my hair. I feel a clump and yelp, jumping back and shaking like a leaf. My mother-in-law calmly has me sit down to investigate. She mutters a Serbian swear and picks something out, throwing it to the ground before stomping it with her shoe.

A bee was still alive. In my hair.

I do some minor hyperventilating before I hear my husband telling me to calm the F down because I’m freaking out our daughter. My son, on the other hand, is unharmed and thinks it’s the coolest thing ever.

We get the stingers out, apply a gel kept on hand for just such occasions (WTF?) and I spend the rest of the night watching Curb Your Enthusiasm on the Mac in an attempt to drown out the buzzing in my head.

I dream of creatures living in the corn, coming out to steal my kids, and wake up in a sweat. Coyotes are howling in the corn, which does not help me fall back asleep easily.

Farming tools.

The neighbor's original house.

Bullet holes in the neighbor's 'new' house.

Haystacks! They wrap the straw around a pole, like cotton candy.

The 'road' to my son's land.

I was standing where the Serb forces were lined up and across the grass was the location of the Muslims/Croatians. My son's land was a 2-minute walk behind me.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2010 9:51 am

    Two separate comments – about the bees. OUCH! I am such a bee phobic. I feel your pain.

    About the place – I followed the war in the American news which tells you how little of the detail I learned. I remember thinking that the feelings must run so deep that I simply can’t comprehend it. Your pictures make the situation more real. And I love your writing style, Lori.

    • August 30, 2010 10:10 am

      Thanks so much for your comment, Lisa. It’s pretty wild for this mom from the ‘burbs and I’m still processing all of it (but it’s made easier by our awesome flat in Croatia…more on that later!)

  2. August 28, 2010 10:58 am

    Holy crap — and I thought my bad dreams about walking around NY City lost and naked were bad. Are you feeling any better today?


    • August 30, 2010 10:08 am

      Ohhh – put the two together…naked bee stings…ouch! (and thanks for asking – I’m all better)

  3. August 30, 2010 8:10 pm

    So sorry! I’ve been stung several times this summer and I swole up like a watermelon every time. Hope it’s not too itchy….

    • August 31, 2010 4:12 am

      I think the worst part was having my father-in-law (picture Lenin and Einstein’s love child) swatting at my lady parts to get the bee away…MORTIFYING!

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