I was doing what I normally do while waiting for phone calls the other day at work — surfing the internet.
It sounds fun but it’s not the recreational following of the links down a black hole we all are guilty of at times.
Have you ever done that? Like go looking for an appropriate substitution for the eggs in your recipe and come out two hours later knowing more than you ever wanted to know about Mike the Headless Chicken?
Wait, do you know about Miracle Mike? The bird hatched in 1945 and lived 18 MONTHS after his head had been cut off in a bizarre dodging-of-the-dinner-axe incident. The axe wielder, a guy named Lloyd Olsen, felt so bad he hadn’t killed the chicken outright that he vowed to care for it. He had a lucrative, however short, career as a sideshow act (the bird not the man) before allegedly choking to death on a kernel of corn. (Again, the bird, not the man.)
This was in the late ’40s…I’m not so sure how well that would go over in 2019.
Anyhoo, Mike the Headless Chicken is so famous in Fruita, Colorado, there’s a whole festival dedicated to him at the end of every May. I’m not kidding. Google it. Just don’t get caught in the wormhole!
Wow. That might be the biggest tangent I’ve ever gone on in this column. Sorry about that. Back to my story.
My internet searching at work is more of a methodical and often monotonous search of various websites, pages, and groups designed to unearth potential and/or breaking news stories. In short, I was digging for leads.
I came across a riveting post by Bench Elementary teacher Ian Low on the Cowichan Beekeepers Facebook page.
It featured his four-year-old son, Takumi Low, and their bees along with a caption that read:
“I keep putting a suit on the little guy, but he prefers to play with the bees barehanded (every time I turn around!).”
You know I have a bit of a thing about bees, right? I wrote about my history with them in a May 2018 column.
I am not too fond of them, and it turns out I am in fact allergic to them. So, to see this child frolicking with these tiny little buzzers, it nearly gave me hives. But I was fascinated. I could not pull myself away.
“There was one bee on my nose! I didn’t know that!” said the little guy, while brushing it off his face with a grin while another bee lounged on his arm. All the while his hand was inches away from about a dozen other bees going in and out of their bee box.
This kid is the bee whisperer. My son is around the same age and would not have been so calm. In fact, he would not be there at all, he’d be running for the hills. The bee-free hills. It’s totally my fault. I’m trying to change that.
Mr. Low said the key to not being afraid of bees is basically empathy and understanding bee biology.
“Bees see and smell different than you and I, and people are huge and intimidating,” he explained. “It is how you smell, what colours make you look like a traditional predator, your movements and the pheromones you give off when you are afraid can be sensed by animals and bees.”
Darn pheromones get me every time.
“Sometimes they are just mad and there isn’t a lot you can do about it, but most times you can manage the bees and it’s a very symbiotic relationship,” he said.
I’d say the same was probably true for Lloyd Olsen and Mike the Headless Chicken.