I haven’t had all that many confrontations with bees, wasps or hornets in the last seven decades, but I’ve had enough, and I don’t need any more.

When we were kids a million years ago, we occasionally would "clap" bees. Don’t ask me why we thought that was a good thing to do, because I don’t know.

"You wanna go clap some bees?" someone would ask.

"Yeah, okay," we'd say, and off we’d go out into some vacant lot, maybe one full of blooming clover, and find some honey bees and smash them between our hands.

Again, I’m shaking my head right now. We were six, seven years old. I guess we weren’t thinking too clearly, if at all.

I don’t recall ever being stung doing that, but I have been stung, for sure. One of the most memorable times was perhaps 35 years ago. I was walking around Green Island, which is in the Niagara River about 100 yards above the falls, and must have stepped on a yellowjacket nest. Bam! Ouch! I looked down at my left leg, and there was a one of the buggers stuck to my calf.

I tried to brush it off, once, twice, but it wouldn’t let loose. Finally, I grabbed it and pulled. It came out, all right, but a little chunk of flesh came with it. I don’t remember it hurting too much at all, but I have a little round scar there to remind me of the incident.

There are at least four species of yellowjackets native to North America, and they are pretty much everywhere. We had another encounter with them many years before. My brother, my cousin and I took a day trip to Franklinville with my grandparents to visit the abandoned farm where my grandfather and his buddies then did their deer hunting. It was fun for the most part — a beautiful day in the hills of the Southern Tier, ice cream and pop on the way there, and on the way back, too, I think — but it was spoiled a bit by a battle with yellowjackets.

Grandpa and the boys went up the knoll to the old house while grandma and I stayed behind, since I was in a leg cast and on crutches because of a stupid, self-induced injury a few weeks before. There was a water pump at the side of the house, and my cousin asked Grandpa if it worked.

"Sure," he said.

He started pumping the handle, but nothing happened. So, for some reason, he stuck his hand into the spout. That wasn’t a good idea. A cloud of yellowjackets came pouring out of there, and began a rapid-fire stinging assault. The boys scrambled down the hill in a panic, crying and swatting back and forth. Grandpa wasn’t crying — really, I think he was laughing — but he, too, was flailing away like a madman.

Grandma and I escaped the onslaught as the yellowjackets cut short their downhill pursuit after 30 yards or so. I was very happy to be on the injured list at that time.

Those two adventures were among the very few I can remember having trouble with stinging insects, until recently.

About a month ago, I was working in the garden when I felt a sting on my thigh. Then another and another. Four or five stings, I think. Then I saw a bumble bee stagger away, flying slowly and erratically to some other place. The stings bothered me a bit, not terribly, but my leg swelled up, and it itched and was sore for more than a week.

I somehow had long thought bumble bees were reasonably placid, and I either never knew or had forgotten that they can sting multiple times because their stingers don’t have barbs. Yellowjackets share that trait. Now I know, but the bees won’t leave me alone. Twice last week I ran into bumble bees — maybe the same one — that really resented my presence in my garden, or anywhere else. These guys actually chased me out of the yard and down the driveway, with me slapping my ball cap in every direction as I lurched back and forth like a drunken sailor. I’m sure it was hilarious to see, and I hope no one was watching.

By the way, one insect web site says that swatting and fighting bees is not a good tactic. Taking off very quickly is the best strategy, it says, but that begs the question as to what to do if you are no longer very quick.

According to pestworld.com, the occupant of a disturbed bumble bee nest will buzz loudly and will defend the nest aggressively. Well, I heard no buzzing, but aggressive defense? Yeah, I’ll say.

Also, bumble bees often nest in the ground, but also like patio areas and decks. Their sting is among the most painful of all stinging insects — bearable, I’d say, but, painful, yes — and they will chase nest invaders a considerable distance. I know, because the one chased me all the way down the yard, turned back for a moment, and then reappeared with a vengeance, acting like a crazed mongoose. Really, it was kind of creepy.

So, what does this have to do with hunting or fishing. Not much, except that usually when you are hunting and fishing you are outdoors, or at least I hope so, so be aware.

Also know that bee stings can be dangerous. When we were kids, every bee sting was followed by advice to "put some mud on it." Maybe, but removing the stinger and putting a cool compress on the stung area is a better idea. Taking a painkiller probably helps, too. If the reaction is extreme, then a trip to the emergency room is appropriate.

Dozens of people die every year after being stung, so it is no joke.

Write to John Pitarresi at 60 Pearl Street, New Hartford, NY 13413 or jcpitarresi41@gmail.com or call him at 315-724-5266.