I was in my yard a few weeks back, innocently cutting the lawn, and I came close to being “that guy”. You know – the one featured in the local bad-news story of the day. I was wearing a wifebeater and ball cap at the time, which would have pretty much assured the presence of Fox News. Of course, that assumes I would have been in any condition to talk to a TV news crew – which I wouldn’t want to do even at the best of times.
I know – you’re asking yourself “what does this have to do with Unfettered Photos?” It’s a valid question, because the photo really has no business being here – it’s not posted in any of our galleries, nor is it art-worthy, in my opinion. But because the story features me it is therefore interesting (to me, anyway), and I did take this photo so I guess it qualifies for at least a blog entry. But I digress.
Me and the dog, back yard. I was doing yardwork, and the dog was doing whatever she was doing at the time… probably hunting something or thinking about hunting something, as she has a high prey drive. Our yard has two miserable patches of bermuda grass which requires that I periodically break out the electric mower. I had finished with the west side, and pushed the mower over to the east side and was fussing about, moving the cord and emptying the bag and such when I heard this buzzing behind me. I turned to witness what could only be described as a bee-tornado. It was a veritable funnel cloud of winged hell centered over a grapefruit tree in the corner of the yard, maybe 30 feet or so from me.
I quietly stopped what I was doing, called the dog and ducked into the house. In the less than 60 or so seconds it took me to grab my camera and dash back outside, the tornado was gone. I did see a few bees circling the top of the tree though, so I did the only sensible thing and snuck up underneath it. The picture here is the best of about 30 I took over the next couple of days – I used a 250 mm lens, so I was able to zoom in pretty closely.
I will add here that bee swarms in Arizona are fairly common in the springtime. A hive will become overpopulated, and a queen takes off with a group of loyal followers in search of a likely spot for a new hive. They will often land, or swarm, someplace for a few days and rest while scouts explore the surrounding area for a suitable location. If they don’t find anything they like, away they go to the next rest area. Even though they say the bees here are all the Africanized-hybrid (a.k.a. ‘killer’) type, bee attacks are relatively rare considering there are more than 3½ million potential victims in the metro Phoenix sprawl.
However, the sobering point is that had my timing been just a little different I never would have known those bees were there, and would have merrily run the mower pretty much right underneath them. Now maybe nothing would have happened, and the swarm would have moved on (which it did, three days later) without my knowledge it was ever there. Or maybe it would have had a problem with the disturbance and wrought venomous fury on me, the dog, or both. Either way, I now see how easily people and pets can become victims of bee attacks, and I’m really grateful I wasn’t that guy.