If a bug lands on me, I’m just this side of hysterical at absolute best.

I wrote that sentence last week in this space, and I thought of it a couple of days ago, when I was on the terrace of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Manhattan. This outdoor space had previously been unused, and now accommodates raised planting beds for herbs and other edible plants for the hotel’s kitchen. This earned the hotel a spot on The Horticultural Society of New York’s Urban Agriculture Conference tour, and while the growing greenery was interesting, it couldn’t compete with the half dozen bee hives.

WaldorfAstoriaBees

 

The beekeeper, Andrew Cote, was on hand to discuss the hives. He described the various instances under which honey bees were likely to sting, and after ascertaining that no one in the group was allergic to bees, offered to allow us to hold one of the frames of the honeycomb. A frame that was practically teeming with bees.

AlisonSteinwithBees

I was not the first one to volunteer to hold the frame — I watched to make sure no one was beset by the bees — but the whole proceeding appeared to be going calmly and so I stepped up to the plate. You can see that I was holding the frame with as few of my fingers as possible — I was not extending my pinkies because of any sense of gentility. You cannot see this, but I assure you: I was holding my breath.

And I did not get stung.