The Bees Rule

We were at anchor at Playa Bonanza on the back side of Isla Espiritu Santo having just come off a three night passage from Isla Isabella.  We were both ready for a rest.  Alas. Life can be unfair.

A sweet little Redside Blenny

I was below in the salon using the first cell service we’d had in a week; catching up on Facebook and the news, when, from on deck, Mike scared the pants just about off of me by bellowing out a loud, anguished “ARRGGHHUGG!”. I’m sure you are familiar with these kinds of screams. They are the kind that indicate the most foul mortal wounding. In the history of the Boyte-White family, there have been many occasions where I’ve been minding my own business, busy with a task,  only to be brutally interrupted by a loud, guttural cry from one or the other male members of the family. Honestly, I can think of 5 separate occasions without even trying. God only knows how many I’ve repressed so I don’t have to remember them. I accept this as my fate, a balancing of the scales of justice, my due for having put my own parents through this special kind of hell when I was growing up.

The men in my family have been, as they are referred to in medical circles, “frequent fliers”. These cries of terror are generally followed by a fast and expensive visit to the emergency room. When I am on the receiving end of a bellow of anguish, I am, to use a political word, triggered.

“MIKE!!” I screamed as I took the companionway ladder in one leap. “Oh my god what has he done? Has he cut himself? Is he currently missing a limb? Where is the nearest emergency facility? Is there anyone within radio distance?” These thoughts jockeyed for position as I levitated up the ladder. I met him coming around the front of the cockpit, pulling down his pants, all limbs and parts apparently in place and accounted for. No blood spattered anywhere. No arms held at a strange angle. Wait. What?

That’s right. He was pulling down his pants. My husband got a bee in his pants and it stung him on his hind end. That is all. Yes, the sting hurt. But it was the fact the insect was in his pants that did most of the damage. He bears no blame for his outcry. Mine would have been much worse had our positions been reversed. His look was a bit sheepish as I reached for the ice to put on his mortal injury. This was our third sting of the day, so I had it handy.

This was not the peaceful, restful anchorage we had longed for. No. It was not. This was the land of the bees, and it was a harbinger of the weeks to come, weeks we’d planned to enjoy going from anchorage to anchorage, snorkeling and making way north.

Abandoned hotel at Punta Chivato

The bees had shown up only a few hours after we set our anchor. They sent their scouts to report back to their friends: “YES! WE HAVE FOUND WATER, AMIGOS! COME IN FORCE TO THE BIG BLUE FLOATING ISLAND AND DRINK YOUR FILL TO COOL THE HIVE. PLEASE YOUR ALMIGHTY QUEEN!” I remember thinking to myself that maybe they would not go get their friends. Maybe these were not actually scouts sent to communicate with the hoards from the hive. Maybe we would truly be able to rest today. Maybe bees would not invade our cabin and make the boat hum with their tiny beating wings. Maybe they would not crawl over every surface and explore every crevice on the boat. Maybe they would not die by the hundreds in the soapy water in the sink, falling on their bubbly swords in service to their matriarch. Perhaps they would even stay out of the cockpit.

In a soothing moment of denial we called our daughter to have a nice talk and as we visited our hopes and dreams dissolved as the swarm descended on our boat. First a handful of bees, then a bowlful of bees, and finally we had literally thousands of bees flying around and crawling on every little thing they could land on. We had to hang up the phone. There was no way to concentrate on a conversation. We were too busy brushing the bees off of our person. Sighing greatly, we raised anchor to make good our escape.

Thanks for the water, sailors. Now give us your boat.

The struggle with bees is real here on the islands in Mexico. We are bee lovers, not bee haters. Still, our groove has been seriously impacted by our buzzing friends because there is great snorkeling at many of the islands and that’s what we love to do. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to shower salt water off on the back deck with a million bees buzzing around you. One with nature, that’s us.

At our last anchorage, Isla San Marcos, the bees were not the docile almost domesticated insects we had encountered other places. These bees landed on us and crawled on us with impunity, seemingly marking us as their territory. All I can say to that is NO. At every single island anchorage we went to, we had about 1 day to enjoy ourselves before the bees found us. This is the literal truth. One day. After that we either had to become part of the hive, or we had to move along to another place. In order to survive the islands, we’d need wings. And possibly a stinger. At the very least we’d need to keep moving.

In case you were wondering, we did try to divert their attention; to deter them from taking over our space. We tried bowls of water on the deck. That encouraged more to come. We tried peppermint oil, tried by many other cruisers to some effect. Our boat smelled great. But the bees thought so, too. They landed all over it. We even tried putting sugar water on a part of the deck we didn’t need to access. They sure appreciated it, but they still came into the boat looking for more. Greedy bees. Many people close up their boats to keep bees out. But that doesn’t really work as they will find any way to get inside. And really, it’s just too hot for that. A closed up boat, even one with screens, is like a tomb. You need air circulation to survive inside.

Thus it is that I’m not all that sad that we’ve put Galapagos in Marina Real in San Carlos, Sonora for a few weeks and we’re flying back to the states to do some visiting with family. I remember last year when we put her on the hard for the summer and it felt like it was too soon, like there was so much more we wanted to do.

This year it’s different. It’s blessed hot here now. The sweat drips down our bodies constantly and this is no longer a novel experience. We have given up wearing clothing (which can be a serious problem if you forget to put clothes on when other boats are nearby).  You just cannot be in the water enough to stay cool, but I admit that showering in the altogether on the back of the boat is 10 minutes of pure bliss, as long as the bees haven’t joined you.

This fishing boat passed WAY too close to us on our brisk passage across to San Carlos. I was about to turn off, under full sail, when he finally adjusted course, paralleled us for a few minutes and waved, then passed in front of us at speed.

So we are currently in the marina, getting her ready to leave for awhile as planned, and not feeling particularly sorry about it at the moment, although I will miss the snorkeling.  I guess we need a break. We’re visiting our friends Curt and Lynn Brownlow in their air conditioned condo for a few days and it’s utter bliss. We’ll be back in the heat of August, we think, to take her further north into the boiling sea for the brunt of hurricane season. Maybe the bees are better on this side of the sea? There’s more moisture over here, so we’ll hold out hope. Our destination is Puerto Peñasco, above the historic hurricane zone. We’ll find a condo to rent with air conditioning and hunker down for a sweaty season in the boatyard. My birthday is in August. I’m thinking an air conditioner would be a welcome gift.

6 thoughts on “The Bees Rule

  1. FWIW, we never experienced any bees in Puerto Peñasco and we were there in May and June. Slightly less annoying than the bees, however, is the seemingly endless onslaught of super-loud disco music blasting from the sunset cruise boats. YEESH! This post reminded me how happy we are that the desert bees are no longer a phenomenon that we have to deal with.

    • It wouldn’t be Mexico without constant loud music. Honestly. It just becomes background noise after awhile. but I’m glad to hear that maybe we won’t have all these bees up in Puerto Peñasco. That’s where we are headed when we get back from our land travels. I’m not anxious to get back, frankly.

  2. Wow, I’m impressed by the number of bees…… I wouldn’t be able to deal with it in person. I’m all about screens with no-see-um netting however. It’s all trade-offs.

    • No seeums are awful. We’ve been lucky not to have them on our boat, but when we go somewhere we know they frequent, we always anchor pretty far out. The issue with screens down here is that they block the breeze so the interior of the boat is sweltering. So far we’ve only had bees like this on the islands. I’m going to cross fingers that we don’t have any problem with them on the way north.

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