While tending to the bees on a December day, David Krenek’s protective glove slipped out of the sleeve of his bee suit, exposing his bare wrist.
Krenek has seen aggravated bees swarm to exposed skin, where they promptly inflict painful stings.
Asked if he was worried about the possibility of attack, Krenek replied, “Yeah, but today’s a great day!”
Bees rarely attack when unprovoked, Krenek explained, but are especially docile on cool days.
“Now, on a hot day,” Krenek said, “that’s when they get aggressive.”
Krenek, a relative newcomer to beekeeping, said he expects the buzz about bees last summer will increase the number of bee-removal calls he gets in the years to come.
This is true because there aren’t many places for people to turn when they don’t want their bees exterminated, he said. Krenek knows of only two other people who do live bee removal in Victoria County.
Two Crossroads men died last summer after being attacked by bees and at least two others were injured in a third bee incident near downtown Victoria.
Of the almost 20 hives he and his wife, Dina Krenek, care for on a 45-acre property behind Renken’s Nursery, only two were bought from live bee vendors. The rest were rescued from various properties in the Crossroads.
Although he has respect for the bees, Krenek said he’s almost always comfortable working with them because he knows they aren’t out to get him.
“I believe that 99% of the time I get stung, it’s been my own fault – I wasn’t careful how I suited up or I left something vulnerable,” Krenek said. “If they’re not agitated and if you go at it slowly, remain calm and don’t give off any fear pheromones, it’s pretty easy.”
So, why are there attacks like those that occurred last summer?
“The people that were attacked (last) year in one way or another threatened the hive,” Krenek said.
Experts know that bees are highly agitated by the sound of lawnmowers.
Additionally, Krenek said people don’t know the warning signs of a bee attack. Bees give off a pheromone that smells like ripe bananas, indicating alarm and danger.
“When you smell that smell, you might as well leave because that smell has told every bee, ‘Get him,’” Krenek said.
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show about 60 people are killed by bees, wasps and hornets each year. The total number of people killed by stings from venomous insects could be higher because of deaths wrongly attributed to heart attack or heat stroke instead of an insect sting.
Because of the ever-present danger, Krenek said he’s learned to keep an EpiPen and antihistamines nearby at all times.
He said he hopes people will remember the benefits bees provide to society.
Krenek began beekeeping about four years ago after his marriage to Dina Krenek, whose family owns Renken’s Nursery on Salem Road.
Last year, the couple started bottling their honey and making other bee products, including candles and lip balm, to sell in holiday gift boxes.
“They’re just extremely fascinating in the way that they communicate together and how they work together,” Krenek said. “They give us so much.”