You’ve seen this movie before: picture perfect day, everyone in a great mood, things going so well you want to pinch yourself.
We were having the best ride of our entire tour. With the first real tailwind since we left Kelowna more than six weeks ago, we were on track to complete 140 kilometres in one day. We left Russell, Manitoba, thinking we would be doing well to reach Shoal Lake about 75 kilometres away. Instead, with the help of the wind we had reached our destinated by 10:30 a.m., and all agreed Minnedosa – another 65 kilometres down the road – was well within our reach.
Minnedosa is a beautiful little town with a large fresh-water lake, a full-service campground and Winnipeg craft beer. We were determined to get there and have some afternoon fun.
But a swarm of angry bees had other plans.
Just about 15 kilometres from town as we flew along at 30+ kilometres per hour on the wings of a powerful breeze, a swarm of bees madder than hornets emerged from seemingly nowhere. They were headed straight for us.
Tanya was leading the pack and encountered them first, coming at us like a fleet of enemy fighter planes.
“They started just hitting me,” Tanya said. “It was kind of like a cloud of bees and they were just whacking me.”
She decided to ride as fast as she could in the hope she would get past them.
I was right behind Tanya, and felt them begin to hit my helmet, face, arms and chest like pebbles. I put my head down and heard them bouncing off the helmet. From behind, I heard Rick shout at Allison, who was at the back of the pack, “Keep going.”
It was too late. One of the angry bees have found Allison’s neck, and let loose its stinging fury.
“I didn’t really know what was happening until a bee stung me,” said Allison. “Things were hitting my face and body, but I didn’t really know what they were. It was like science fiction.”
The frenzy lasted for about a minute. As bees went past, some of them turned around to follow us. All we could do was keep moving in the hopes they would eventually get bored. Soon enough, they did.
Rick stopped to tend to Allison, got the stinger out quickly and applied some antiseptic. After we regathered our composure, we quietly carried on into town.
What set those bees off? Why were they targeting us? Was it just a random coincidence or were they looking for something or someone to attack? All I could think of is Hitchcock’s movie The Birds. Rick says that in all his world travels over more than two decades, he’s never seen anything like it. The natural world has funny ways of expressing its displeasure.
After an incident in Manitoba a year ago, a local apiarist said swarming is not uncommon at this time of year. It’s the time of peak nectar flow, and the bees have business on their minds.
The day did end up being all we hoped it would be. Allison’s sting subsided, we got our beer and found our way to the campground and lake.
But those bees on a mission will live on in our dreams for some time to come.

4 thoughts on “Out of the blue, an army of killers on the prowl”

  1. Hey Doug … who said the prairies were boring? Seems you’ve had more than your share of excitement travelling Canada’s flat lands. Minnedosa is a lovely little town, though too bad you missed Riding Mountain National Park, the Banff of the flat lands. May the wind stays at your back.
    Grant

  2. John Singleton

    You guys are literally facing nature head on.
    Glad you are well.
    And you always manage to find a brewery🍺
    Cheers

  3. We spent some time at that lake also!

    I can’t believe you guys are in Manitoba already. Way to go

    If you are headed to Spruce Grove Provincial Park it’s well worth it to spend some time hiking the Spirit Sands. The campground closest to the sands was one of the nicest we have ever stayed at. Lots of cute little trails between each of the loops, a lake with a sandy beach, hot showers and ice cream! They also have some decent burgers etc so you can really spoil yourselves. We don’t use campgrounds very often but we were very happy we stopped here.
    You’ll know you are close to the park when you see Sarah the giant camel in Glenora!

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