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We’ve had some erosion along the foundation of our house this summer. The chipmunks may have had something to do with it. (Darn chipmunks!) We had a contractor over to look at the erosion because during one of this summer’s strong rains, we ended up with water in the basement. The contractor suggested filling the holes that were forming and landscaping the soil into slopes that ran away from the house.

With that in mind, I went out to the compost heap and was digging around, shifting part of the pile around and bringing composted soil to the front of the pile, where the wheelbarrow was. On one of my trips forward with a shovel full of soil, I felt a sharp sting at the back of my left ankle. It was a quick sting, such that I thought it was a nettle. I looked around the pile, but didn’t see any nettle. I limped to the house as the spot began to swell and thought, dang! I’ve been stung by a bee.

I nursed the spot with some witch hazel, which removed some of the burning sensation. Figuring the sting was from a bee acting alone, I put on long socks and rubber boots and Young Son and I headed back to the compost heap.

Wrong move. We were there only a couple of minutes when suddenly we were both being attacked by bees. We threw down our shovels and ran for the house at full speed. Several bees followed us, one was on my leg, continuously poking me. Unbeknownst to me, another had gotten in my shirt. It managed to sting me two times on the back before I stripped down and smushed it.

Here’s the little beast. I took a picture so I could identify it. Seems to be a yellow jacket. (Adkins Bee Removal has good bee and wasp identification pages.)

Yellow jacket, August 14, 2010

Yellow jacket, August 14, 2010

As Young Son and I applied witch hazel to our wounds, Young Son expressed concern that he had never been stung before and he wasn’t sure if he would have a severe reaction – an anaphylactic shock type reaction. He witnessed a reaction like this in one of his friends this summer. I said we’d wait and watch, but neither of us had anything more severe than a red-hot poker feeling from inside the sting, swelling and redness.

Much of the swelling is now down, although the redness and interior heat remain. Young Son got stung three times and I got stung five. FIVE! I’ve never been stung so much in my life. Here’s a shot of the sting site on Young Son’s elbow:

Bee sting site, Young Son, August 14, 2010

Bee sting site, Young Son, August 14, 2010

I would not recommend sharing bee stings as a method of bonding with your children.

And I’m not going back out to the compost heap to retrieve the shovels.