Wendyl Nissen's spouse endures the stings and arrows of outrageous fortune - fired by the buzzers of a backyard beehive.

The first bee sting didn't seem to bother him much.

"All part of the job, really," he said, rubbing his hand vigorously. "I'm sure beekeepers get stung all the time."

The next sting was more serious.

"Ouch!" he said in a very unmanly fashion. "Hurts."

By the time we got to the fifth and sixth sting my husband's left foot had been swollen for two weeks.


"Do you think you have a bee allergy?" I suggested as he limped around the house.


Our two hives of bees have not been well behaved. They started out keeping to themselves, flying out every day over our house to the park where they busied themselves gathering pollen and nectar from the pohutukawa trees.

I daydreamed of little jars of honey, with a little pohutukawa flower label, which I would give to people who were nice to me.

But then one of the hives swarmed. First to the neighbour's grapefruit tree. Then a few hours later to a tree on the other neighbour's property. Then they disappeared.

They left behind a hive with just a few little bees popping in and out as they hatched and fed a new queen, having lost the old one.

The expulsion of the drones in the other hive came after that. Drones are male bees whose one job is to mate with the queen. After that they hang out in the hive, sipping honey and generally getting in the way, as worn-out fancy men do. The economics of this don't make sense so the female worker bees kick them out.

We knew this was happening because we'd seen two bees carrying another bee then unceremoniously drop it on our deck. The poor old boys would crawl around, then roll over and die.

At this stage I was sweeping the deck daily just so we could let our grandchildren out on it. I knew drones couldn't sting but I was taking no chances.

Then the night visits began - dozens of worker bees visiting our lights instead of going back to their hive.

"Oh, look, a little, lost bee," said my husband as he sat on the couch.

"Stop playing with it," I snapped.

"But they're so cute."

I went to bed which required removing another little, lost bee from my pillow.


I was pulled from a terrific dream in which I was negotiating a peace settlement while a very handsome older man was stroking my hair.

"Sting. Help. Get it out," yelled my husband. His cute little plaything had turned nasty.

I did my best but that older man was still in my hair and I liked it.

The next morning my husband's foot was the size of a football. Just as it was returning to normal he was stung again. The foot resumed duty as a football and called in the lower calf for extra swelling.

"So, when we decided to get bees did you have any idea you might be allergic?" I asked on the way to the doctor's.

"It does run in the family," he said, crestfallen.

"How do you feel about goats?" I asked, hoping my dream of owning a kid or two could finally be realised.

"How do you feel about living on your own?" he replied as he hobbled to the safety of the doctor's office.