Safety Net

by Kit Cassingham
Boulder, Colorado, USA

Safety Net

I was working in the garden and kept hearing strange sounds. I looked to see if neighbors were watering their yards or spreading gravel, but I couldn’t find where the sound was coming from or what it was. After a while, I noticed a large group of bees swarming my spruce tree. Looking closer, I realized that an entire swarming hive had attached itself to the tree — there were THOUSANDS of them. Now I had the answer to the sound question, but had a new question of what to do about them.

I started calling around looking for someone who could help. “Call the Division of Wildlife”, said one. “Stay inside” (duh), “Call an exterminator” (no way!), “Call the Fire Department”. I spent hours looking for someone who wanted my bees. Then I got an idea: I buy honey from a local company, so I called them to ask if they knew any beekeepers who could help. They immediately said “Call Ernie” and gave me a number.

Ernie is one of those people who looks rough on the outside but is soft on the inside. He said I got to be his assistant in the bee removal process and then grinned a big, mostly toothless smile and winked one of his twinkling eyes.

While we waited for the bees to settle into the hive Ernie brought, I asked him about my yard’s inhabitants. My first concern was for his safety from stings — Ernie didn’t wear a bee suit or even a net over his face. He said he isn’t bothered by stings and claimed that bee stings prevent arthritis. I joked around about that notion for a bit, and he said that was nothing: a woman called him three years ago to ask if she could buy fifteen bees from him. He said sure, but “If it won’t embarrass you to tell me, what do you want with 15 bees?” She told him she was using bee stings to treat her multiple sclerosis.

His response was that if such an unusual approach could help her, he wouldn’t sell her the bees, he would give them to her. When she picked up her first bees, she couldn’t get out of her car. Now, she walks into Ernie’s house to gather the bees he’s put in a jar with a bit of honeycomb. She told him that she had been going blind from the MS, but has sight today. He beamed at the thought of helping her, especially, he said, because he was so lucky to have been very healthy all his life. He said that he doesn’t know if the bees really help her, but if she thinks so, that’s good enough for him.

As I watched him drive off with his new hive, I wondered if “my” bees would make my next jar of honey and help keep that woman walking. That sure beats calling the exterminator.

(Publisher’s Note: Kit Cassingham is was HeroicStories’ Managing Editor back in the day. Her website is

Originally published as HeroicStories #140 on May 2, 2000
Available in The Best of HeroicStories, Volume 2.

5 thoughts on “Safety Net”

  1. I had a similar bee situation a few years ago. I was not about to have the bees exterminated, so a beekeeper was my only choice. Unfortunately, beekeepers don’t work for free in Southern California. It cost me $250! I watched him work, up close, and I didn’t get stung either.

  2. How amazingly funny this article came today. I’ve just returned home from taking a friend of mine (El) to a local beekeeper’s place (Deb). We bought some honey and Deb and I began telling El stories from over a year ago when I was able to eat honey. (A crazy diet forced me to abstain from this wonderful delicacy I’d grown to love.) About two years ago I’d discovered BVT (bee venom therapy) from Deb and requested treatments for a variety of ailments. Nervous at first (and relieved I wasn’t allergic to bee stings) my first encounter was to see if these little martyrs could literally unlock muscles in my upper left shoulder which denied my head from turning very far to the left. Sidenote: Although I’d had several chiropractic adjustments, several water aerobics classes and even targeted massages I remained a “BLOCK” in that area of my body and in agony for 6 months prior to discovering BVT. I was desperate. Three stings was my first round and although the initial pain needed time to subside I could tell something was beginning to work by day 2. On day 3 I went back for more and things got even better. The following week on Monday I received another massage…muscles continued to get a little better from the previous week. The next day I got smart and returned for more BVT then immediately went to have a massage. She was able to manipulate the freshly inserted venom deep into my tissue and systems…even remarked that things were much more supple. About three weeks worth of this very specialized therapy along with massaging I could finally move my head pain free. I was also told the lady who came for BVT just before my session had MS and the only way she could move her fingers was through this procedure! She came weekly for them. Radical, but works…for the ones who get desperate enough to try it. (By the way, my massage specialist friend happens to be El…)

  3. Many years ago I had read an article in a magazine of bees (I think it was in Denmark or Sweden) curing skin cancer. I ad a lot of skin cancer then and I still do. One Saturday I was standing in the parking lot of our church and a honey bee landed on my arm where the skin cancer was and I could feel him picking at it. People near by said get rid of it. I told them about the article. Within minutes the bee had eaten at least half of the cancer. I had to leave and so did the bee. That week I had made an appointment with the Dr. to remove the skin cancer. But half of it was gone. Well I went ahead with the Dr. All these years I’ve wondered should I have let the bee eat all the cancer? The Lord made a lot of insects, plants (for poison ivy), tree bark and the list goes on and on. Yet sometimes we humans are so skeptical. I still believe that the bee could have removed all that cancer.

  4. Thirty or more years ago, my aunt with MS used to go to her bee sting group. All I can say is that when she died at 86, there was no evidence of MS in her physical body.

  5. This is an extraordinary story and so are the comments. Bees are like little angels and it’s tragic that insecticides, that are doused all over our plantations of vegetables, are killing off these miracles of creation. Sometimes in the Summer when I’m out weeding in my flower garden, I’m working right beside the bees that are busy collecting pollen. I don’t bother them and they don’t bother me. Now isn’t that a lesson in neighborly behavior!


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