Guess what: Bumblebees can sting twice

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Bumblebees do not care if an intrusive gardener cuts down some overenthusiastic butterfly bush. They hardly notice if that gardener carries away that branch, should there happen to be luscious purple flowers to forage on. But if the bouncing of that branch drops that bee down the collar at the back of that gardener’s neck, bumblebees do not take kindly to being confined under the fabric of your shirt.

At first it tickled as if I had only dropped a leaf down my back. Trying to shake that leaf out didn’t exactly help. Even so, I thought that buzzing was at my ear, not down my back. It wasn’t until she stung me a couple times before I got the message: take your shirt off before you get stung again. So the bee escaped and flew away unseen.

It hurt with a piercing pain and slight burn, but not nearly as bad as a honeybee sting. Also I didn’t find a stinger. There are a lot of suspects in the butterfly bush, mostly Bumblebees and Carpenter bees. Both have a smooth stinger. They can sting more than once, but only if you do something stupid like not pay attention to where the bees are when you’re hauling flowers around. It’s possible that she was a Carpenter bee, but they’re so big, I doubt she would have fallen down my collar that easily. So I’m going with a bumblebee sting.

I iced my back and took  some ibuprofen on general anti-inflammatory principles, and now I’m fine. I have been stung by a bumblebee and I survived. The panic was worse than the pain. And now I’m keeping a respectful eye on them, because you know, one of them is the bee who got me.