African Tales – Buzzin’ of the bees

141007_beesOctober 7 – Back in 1939 my folks and I lived on the Rusangu a mission station in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). A block or two down from where we lived was another missionary home, and in the attic of this house lived a swarm of bees. Not much of a problem really, until one day something upset the swarm and they went mad, flying furiously everywhere and driving man and beast into shelter. The chickens in their fenced pen were unable to escape and many were stung to death.

My dad decided that those bees had to go, so one day he put on his bee-keeper’s helmet and veil, taped up his pant legs and sleeve cuffs, got a ladder, and climbed up into the attic. Hanging from the rafters were the bee combs, covered with busy worker bees. Dad began to pull those combs off and drop them into a basin he had brought. The bees were greatly annoyed and were soon swarming all over him but he proceeded to harvest the honey, until……

Suddenly he sensed something crawling up his neck and onto his face, and then there was a great stinging and he panicked. His bee veil had pulled out of his collar and the bees had found their way in. He crushed them in his fists in great handsful but there was no end of them, so he fled down the ladder and up the road to home, with an angry swarm of bees right behind.

Taking refuge in the house, he tore off the helmet and veil and got rid of the attackers as best he could, while Mom stayed out of range while extending advice and sympathy. Fortunately he was not badly allergic to bee stings, as his father-in-law was, or he might have died. But his face was rapidly swelling and was grossly distended and contorted, so much so that Mom, seeing the results, was unable to contain her emotions and burst into laughter. Dad was not amused.

But his attack on the bee swarm was successful and they all flew away and found a home elsewhere. Once they had left, Africans went up and collected the basin of comb and honey and had a great feast. They did not object to a mixture of bee grubs and honey, by the way.

This same mission home had a tennis court right next to it that previous occupants had made, and on which missionary enthusiasts sometimes played. The floor was covered in sand as clay was not available. One morning the current householder went out to the court planning to hit a few balls, and was surprised at all the odd markings in the sand. Looking closer, he realized that they were lion footprints! Overnight a pride of lions had apparently come to investigate things and maybe play a game or two of their own. Nighttime games thereafter were much rarer, and played with lighting speed. – DALE

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