Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The birds & the bees

Grevilleas have extremely nectar-rich flowers which is why they're a good shrub to have if you want to attract a variety of honey-eaters to the garden. They're also fairly hard to grow, which is why, when one of the three seedlings we bought took, we've let the developing tree meander to the point where it now reaches out across half the pathway with branches from waist- to just above head-height.

I like watching the birds in it. Regular visitors. The smaller varieties of honey-eater have no problem manouevering amongst the branches, but the larger birds have to engage in contortionist activities to reach the flowers, with the still-thin branches bungy-jumping with the weight of the birds. I also see, but don't really see, bees that are also attracted to the nectar.

Monday night I brought some things in from the car. Got inside & felt something crawling across my beard. Reached up to knock it off, realized it was a quite large insect & automatically grabbed at it without too much thought. Experienced an extremely sharp pain in my finger, looked down at the floor & saw a honey bee, looked at my finger &, even without glasses, made out the sting & venom sac that was embedded in it, the dying act of the insect that now lay at my feet.

I went to the bathroom, got the tweezers, extracted the sting & sac, rubbed antiseptic cream on it. Didn't worry too much about it. Was still standing so wasn't going into anaphylactic shock. Wasn't breaking out into hives. Remembered being stung when I was a kid & stood on a bee. Painful but passed quickly. Had been stung here by the wasps that seem to like building their small paper nests in the bamboos by the pool. Also painful, but no other reaction except the pain seemed to last longer.

Was woken yesterday morning by the itching of the stung finger. Very itchy. Also hard to bend the top joint, almost as if there was some sort of straightjacket bandaid on it. The finger red, slightly swollen. Pain in the tendons running across the back of the hand & up into the lower arm. Itchy, itchy.

It's all going away now, slowly. Not so slowly was my getting the pruning shears out, & cutting away all the branches that overhung the path. In fact, rather quick on the draw, as if it was my trigger & not my ring finger that was the source of my discomfort. Clear path now.

Sorry birds. Sorry bees.


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