Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hilo Days: The Bees’ Knees

Have you ever encountered an angry wasp (or hornet, for that matter)? I have, and I paid deadly for it. It was my first experience being stung by a paper wasp, an experience I remember to this day.

Here’s a bee story as it was published in my now-defunct Hilo Days website.

Great-Obachan's Room

I don't have many memories of my great-grandmother (Obachan's mother). In fact, the only recollections I have are her being bed-ridden in the small room adjoining the kitchen at Obachan's house, and that she wore diapers.

The room itself has an unpleasant memory, for it was there that I got my first and only "yellow jacket" (actually, paper wasp) sting. I was looking out the window and leaned my elbow against the sill. Waiting for me there was a paper wasp. When I leaned against it, it stung me. Hurt like hell, too.

I've had honeybee stings that hurt, but they were nothing like that wasp sting. I think it was saving up its poison especially for me. Obachan put some bluing on it and said it would be okay. So I walked around with a blue elbow for a day.

A few years later, when we had moved to Kaumana and I used to spend the weekends at Obachan's house, a friend of mine showed me how to take wasp grubs out of the paper nest, fry them in shoyu and butter, and eat them. Tell you the truth, I never ate one, but they sure looked yummy when he popped them in his mouth.

This is turning into a bee story. Dad once told me that they used to eat the grubs when they were attending the University of Hawaii. You've seen pictures of college students swallowing live goldfish in the '50s? Well, the UH campus craze was the swallowing of wasp grubs. Live, squirmy, yecchy wasp grubs.

The neighborhood kids used to look for carpenter bee drones. Carpenter bees are those huge, round black bees that bore holes in wood to lay their eggs and raise their families.

The drones were males, and they were golden-colored—quite pretty, in fact. The kids used to catch them (they don't sting), tie one end of a long thread around the bee's waist, and the other end to a button on their shirt. The bees would fly around and around their heads as they walked down the street.

Personally, I never had the nerve to do something like that.

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