Bee Stories

  • Rusty’s 1st Bee Story – Part 1

    “Hey Rusty, why is your hand the size of a softball?”

    “Let me tell you the story.”

    Rusty, a 16 year old boy, was waiting in the cafeteria line. It was a beautiful summer day and half way through a week long camp for teens interested in learning more about loving God and loving others. Rusty felt a tickling against the back of his right hand, like a fly or a mosquito, and pressed his hand firmly against his thigh to kill it.


    Lifting his arm, Rusty noticed half of a striped insect sticking out of the back of his hand, the other half smeared on his jeans. One of the reasons Rusty was enjoying the camp so much was because sickness had often kept him from participating in team sports and the camp offered creative, unique “sports” (like getting a slime covered beach ball in the middle of a jello filled tarp away from an opponent) that tended to put everyone on an equal playing field regardless of traditional sport skills. During these periods of sickness Rusty had been warned that he might be allergic to bees and to be alert the first time he was stung. So Rusty promptly left his place in line and ran across the campground to the nurses station.

    The nursing student on call looked Rusty’s hand over and gave him a reassuring smile.

    “You aren’t allergic. You’re hot and sweaty from your run, and you’ve been pumping your blood all over. The welt looks a little bigger than I would have expected but if you were actually allergic, with that extra exertion you would already have swollen up and died from not being able to breathe.”

    Rusty, with his worries eased, jogged back to the cafeteria, got into line and absentmindedly scratched at his back as he waited to get his food. Then he rushed through dinner to be able to have time to get changed into non sweaty cloths before chapel that evening.

  • Rusty’s 1st Bee Story – Part 2

    Now I’m still not sure if it was because the admissions office had had a weird sense of humour, were assigning bunks by alphabetical order, or just coincidence. However, three of the four people in the room either shared names or had very similar names. We had decided to refer to ourselves as Rus, Rusty, and Russell to avoid confusion – you’ll figure out which one I was by the end of this story. We got along great and had a very similar sense of room cleanliness. Four days into the camp, our pet ‘pile’ had grown to cover half the floor and Russell swore he’d seen it move and eat a chipmunk that had wandered into our cabin the day before. Prodding it’s edges carefully, Rusty found a dry shirt with a few less wrinkles and started getting changed. Rus called out from where he was reading a Bible on his bunk across the room.

    “Rusty! What happened? You have splotches all over your back!”

    Rusty looked down and noticed that his chest and upper arms had welts breaking out all over them. Stretching his waistband he saw small red marks forming on his legs and lower body as well. Rus jumped off his bunk and stared closely at Rusty’s face.

    “They are smaller, but they are on your face and neck too.”

    Rusty raced back to the nurses station for a second time and pounded on the door. It took a while as the nursing student was getting changed for chapel as well, but eventually she opened the door and let him in. She looked him over thoughtfully.

    “Well, this is the oddest reaction to an insect bite that I’ve ever seen, but I still don’t think you are deathly allergic. Otherwise you would already be dead. It will likely be uncomfortable and itchy for a while but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. Here take some benedryl to help with the itchyness and feel free to skip the service and sleep it off if you need to.”

    Trying hard not to scratch Rusty returned to his room, finished changing and snuck into the back of the chapel a little late. Rus waved him over to a spot of pew he had saved.

  • Rusty’s 1st Bee Story – Part 3

    Trying hard not to scratch Rusty returned to his room, finished changing and snuck into the back of the chapel a little late. Rus waved him over to a spot of pew he had saved.

    “Did you get help? Your face looks a lot worse.”

    Rusty felt at his now lumpy face and nodded.

    “She said I just have to sleep it off.”

    Rus shrugged and returned to singing worship songs.

    Rusty tried to join the worship, but the itching was driving him crazy. He tapped Rus on the shoulder.

    “Would you pray with me for God to heal me?”

    Rus nodded and they prayed. Among other things Rusty added.

    “I can’t sit here clawing at my skin the whole service, it would be distracting to everyone else. Please heal me, I know you can. But if you don’t I’ll just go back to the cabin and sleep.”

    Rusty tried to sit through one more worship song but eventually gave up and left the building, making it as far as the attached prayer chapel before lying down on a pew there and falling asleep.

  • Rusty’s 1st Bee Story – Part 4

    Rusty tried to sit through one more worship song but eventually gave up and left the building, making it as far as the attached prayer chapel before lying down on a pew there and falling asleep.

    Now, I have a question for you. How would you define the greatest miracle Jesus could do in this situation?

    Would it be Jesus instantly reversing anaphylactic shock and stopping the swelling from cutting off Rusty’s airways? Waking him up without a spot on his body?

    How about if Rusty’s parents felt prompted to come and visit the chapel service that night. They saw his face and after hearing what happened, recognized that the nursing student wasn’t a good enough authority to make a life and death decision like this. Deciding then that they were going to take him to the hospital for a second opinion at the end of the next song if things didn’t start getting better?

    What about the miracle of Rusty getting to spend eternity with his heavenly Father because of what Jesus did on the cross regardless of if he died that night or not? The promise of a new body, one that didn’t have the same restrictions as the one he had here on this planet still suffering from sin’s curse.

    I firmly believe Rusty would have chosen the third option as the greatest miracle.

    In my life I have experienced all three types and am grateful for growing in awareness to be able to see Him at work in everything from intervention that can’t be explained away, to “coincidences”, to having to work through the excruciating process of biblical lament (fully acknowledging feelings of grief, loss and anger to God and then allowing Him to slowly provide the perspective that shows He is still loving and powerful and we can still trust Him with our lives). In particular I think of Acts chapter 12 and the contrast between James’ and Peter’s stories.

    Many of the stories I put up on this blog will be stories of God interacting with me. They are true stories and stories that I hope will encourage, challenge and increase understanding. I will be honest with you, only changing some names for purposes of privacy or safety. I pray that when I share a story of a time when God did an obvious miracle that if you are going through a time of grieving and wondering why your story is different that you won’t feel like I am suggesting that if you had only been like me it would have “worked”. Similarly I pray that when I share a story of how God did a miracle that I could only get glimpses of after years of lament and prayer that you won’t feel like I am suggesting that it implies God’s powerlessness or lack of love. I don’t know why He chooses the way He does sometimes. I do know that no matter how it seems, He loves us and we can trust Him.

    Ultimately I’ll just be telling my story and trying to point to His enoughness, how He is the pearl that is worth any cost.

  • Rusty’s 1st Bee Story – Part 5

    Ultimately I’ll just be telling my story and trying to point to His enoughness, how He is the pearl that is worth any cost.

    Speaking of my story.

    I woke up before the end of the song they had been singing when I fell asleep. I felt different. I ran my fingers over my face with it’s normal proportions restored. I pulled my shirt off and looked myself over. There wasn’t a single splotch of red or swelling anywhere. Then I turned my right hand over and saw one tiny red spot left in the middle of it. I looked up.

    “You missed one … just kidding, this is great. Thanks so much!”

    I pulled my shirt back on and bumped into my parents as I returned to he service. They’d seen me earlier and were preparing to take me to the hospital. Their eyes widened in amazement as they looked me over, I got a similar reaction from Rus as I squeezed back into the pew beside him.

    Why did He leave the one spot? Well, over night that one spot swelled until my hand was the size of a softball. It remained that way for the next couple of days. Maybe to warn me that all of them would have swollen that much and it would be a good idea for me to get an EpiPen?

    Also, as I walked around with a hand the size of a softball people tended to ask me.

    “Hey Rusty, why is your hand the size of a softball?”

    Giving me a chance to tell my story.


    Have me read the full story to you at:

    Bee Story #1 small file

  • Rusty’s 2nd Bee Story

    It was approximately ten years between my first bee sting and my second. During that time, despite God proving himself faithful in my first allergic reaction, my fear of bees had just kept getting larger and larger. In fact a year before my second sting it had grown to the point where I asked my pastor at university for prayer and advice on how to break that fear in my life.

    We were visiting a community in Northern Ontario, running programs at a community centre for the summer months. Early one morning we drove to a lookout point to watch the sun rise over one of the Great Lakes. I was awed by the creativity and passion that God was pouring into it’s constantly shifting beauty. Marvelling even more so, as I thought of what was required in splitting the light spectrum – let alone coming up with the idea of light having the capacity to split into a spectrum in the first place.

    I looked over my shoulder and saw a rabbit at the edge of our clearing curiously wriggling it’s nose and staring as the two of us leaned on a railing. It seemed to me that it was similarly amazed and made me think about the love and creativity that God was pouring into creating us as well.

    I remember Pastor Doug turning to me and smiling.

    “Rusty, as I’ve been praying for you I feel like I want to share a picture that comes to my mind. I imagine a father and son going on a walk together. A bee lands on the son’s hand and the Father kneels beside him and holds his hand up so that they can both see the beauty in the bee. They smile as the bee walks along the boy’s hand licking the sweat off of it before flying away. I believe this is where God wants to take you in your understanding of where he is when you are near a bee.”

    He prayed for me and I felt that there was a power behind his prayer. However, while the next time I met a bee I felt a little more coherent, the fear was still there and it felt like there was more to come in this journey.

  • Rusty’s 3rd Bee Story – Part 1

    The following summer I went on a canoe trip with three friends. We were three days into a seven day canoe trip exploring one of the river and lake systems in Algonquin park. I had never been as far away from “civilization” before. I don’t remember us seeing another human being in over a day.

    It was starting to get dark and our map showed two potential campsite on a small Island just ahead. We landed and explored one … it was adequate but not as nice as other places we had camped previously. I offered to check and see if the campsite on the other side of the Island was any better and took off at a jog along a thin trail through thick growth.

    A few minutes later, about three quarters of the way across the Island, I heard a crunch followed by a rhythmic thumping. It took me until I felt a pain on my lower thigh to figure out that I had accidentally crushed a hive at the base of a tree while jogging and that the former occupants were swarming and dive-bombing me, drumming off the rim of my Tilley hat. I swerved to where I could see a glimpse of water and poured on the speed. Two more stingers struck home before I was able to dive beneath the water.

    I was absolutely terrified as I swam around the Island to my pack, very aware of just how much space was between us and any professional medical help. My allergy specialist had told me that bee allergies varied widely. Sometimes they were confined to a specific by type of bee, sometimes it crossed over species to wasps and hornets. The insects that had stung me had been striped, but they also seemed much smaller than what I had encountered ten years earlier. Still I was praying and begging God for my life. All I could think about was the possibility of dying before accomplishing any of my dreams.

    When I got back to my friends I briefly snapped out what had happened while I dug through my canoe’s contents, downed some benedryl and then sat in shallow cool water. I stared at my thigh, my Epipen poised and ready. About an hour later I got up and looked myself over carefully. None of the stings had reacted any worse than a bad horse fly bite.

    I felt foolish and a little ashamed but, grateful to be alive, I walked up to the camp that my friends had set up and joined them for dinner.

    The next morning we decided to spend the day at this location and just fish and relax for a break. I told my friends to go fishing without me and brought my Bible, journal and tin flute to the shoreline. I was determined to pray until I had defeated this fear once and for all.

    A couple chapters of the Bible later I heard a small scuffling noise on the other side a tent. Wondering if I would have to scare away a raccoon, I got up to investigate.

    A squirrel was rummaging through the fire pit where we had burned up the scraps from the previous night’s meal.  Deciding that burning them wasn’t enough I went ahead and buried them as well, hoping that would be enough to keep away any larger scavengers.

    I went back to my rock and continued reading.  Once again I heard the scuffling noise and glanced over my shoulder to see if I could catch a glimpse of the squirrel from where I was.

    The largest bull moose I had ever seen strolled out from between our tents and stared at me.


  • Rusty’s 3rd Bee Story – Part 2

    The largest bull moose I had ever seen strolled out from between our tents and stared at me.

    It was beautiful, but I knew the stats. Moose were responsible for more deaths in Canada than any other animal, many of them because curious campers didn’t respect them enough to give them the space they deserved. With this in mind I slowly backed up, pushed my canoe into the water and paddled away a few metres, giving him free reign of our campsite.

    He walked around, eventually taking his eyes off of me to snuff at the pit I had dug, apparently not deep enough to hide the smell of food scraps. My heart was beating faster than normal, but it was with an excitement that contrasted sharply with the terror of the night before. I paddled to get a clearer view of him and he finally turned and left the way he had come.

    I returned to my stone on the shore and rested my chin on my knees. Why had that been different? Why was I able to feel respect towards the Moose, acting appropriately but not loosing my joy. Yet bees could paralyze me with fear?

    I picked up my journal and started to write when I heard a faint buzzing. I looked around as it got louder.

    A bee, larger than the ones that had attacked me the day before, was buzzing lazily in the summer heat circling me and doing figure eights among the vegetation.

    My teeth clenched up, my muscles tensed and I felt sweat breaking out on my back.

    It landed on my foot.

    I froze, my eyes wide, staring at the bee and using every once of my willpower battling with my foot not to shake in fear. I could tell I was loosing. A split second before my foot started shuddering the bee got up and flew away.

    I was devastated. I remembered what Pastor Doug had said and, as confident as I was that God had brought me that bee to give me a chance to battle my fear, I was equally confident that I failed. I certainly hadn’t been smiling and couldn’t claim on any level that I had been acting in peace and joy.

    “Father, I can’t do this on my own. I’m too weak. Please, change me from the inside out! Please take this fear away! I don’t want this fear in my life, I’m acting like I’m it’s slave. Please set me free.”

    As I journalled my prayer I heard the buzz again. The bee was coming back. My chest started to tighten again, then slowly relaxed as I became aware that I wasn’t alone. My Heavenly Father was right beside me.

    The bee landed on my right hand just below the first knuckle of my index finger.

    It was beautiful.

    Each colour, each hair stood out in clear detail less than a foot away from my face. It crawled toward my wrist licking at my sweat and sunscreen, tickling me as it went. I slowly rotated my wrist to keep it in view as it turned left and moved onto my palm. It climbed up my ring finger and then flew away.

    Tears of joy leaked from my eyes as I lay back on the soft earth and whispered “Thank you Father.” over and over again.

    And the best part? Now, when I meet a bee – I still respect it – but no longer freeze in fear.  Instead I drift to the memory of the time Father taught me of it’s beauty.

    Philipians chapter 4

    Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)