When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Bee Afraid

Did you catch this news story last week?  A Kitchener homeowner discovered that she had 50,000 or so honeybees living in the walls of her guest bedroom after she managed to get a beekeeper to come in to preserve and remove a suspected hive.  The woman was picturing "a nice little honeycomb like Winnie-the-Pooh", and was shocked to see a giant hive that spanned two walls of her home behind the drywall. Thankfully, the beekeeper was able to safely capture thousands of the bees and their queen, and take them with him to add to his own hives. (The homeowner is now just waiting for the last couple of hundred "stragglers" to leave her guest bedroom.  Can you imagine???)

This story dredged up the unpleasant memory of our family's own alarming stinging insect problem. Several years ago, when we lived in a different house and the boys were still quite young, I started noticing the odd wasp on the inside of our bedroom window on crisp but sunny fall mornings.  As days went by, the number of wasps slowly started increasing, and soon I was also noticing them on the window in the family room. The wasps' presence became increasingly stressful, so Matt and I carefully investigated the house inside and out to see if we could determine where they were coming from.

We found a small hole in the brick outside where there was some wasp activity, so we called an exterminator, who came and treated the hole.  But the wasps kept coming, and soon I was swatting thirty or more wasps with a rolled up magazine as part of my daily routine.  I got stung twice in this process, and as the days and weeks passed, I became more and more distraught about the situation, and more and more desperate (read: hysterical) to resolve it.  The exterminator said he would gladly come back to deal with the wasps, but we had to figure out where they were getting in in order for him to be able to get rid of the nest.

We taped up vents and holes and tore apart rooms searching for possible entry points, yet came up with nothing.  And still, the wasps kept coming in.  Finally, one day out of complete desperation, I camped out on our bedroom floor from the moment the sun started streaking across the window, and I vowed to stay there until I saw one of those damn wasps come out of somewhere.

As soon as a beam of morning sunlight reached the small dark slit under the closet door, a lone wasp came marching determinedly out from it.  I just as determinedly picked up the phone and called Matt at work and yelled, "THEY'RE COMING FROM THE CLOSET!!!"  He just as determinedly (but more calmly) declared, "I am coming home right now!!"

When Matt arrived home, he suited himself up in protective "armour" -- a thick sweatshirt with the hood pulled tight around his face, safety goggles and gloves, jeans tucked into socks, work boots -- and marched into the closet with a flashlight and a crowbar.  There was nothing in the main closet (we had checked that many times already), but when he pulled open the tiny door to the dark, rarely used sub-closet in the crawl space, he discovered some wasps and a small hole way back in the corner, above the baseboard. He pulled the baseboard off with the crowbar, and the wasps started streaming out of the hole onto the closet floor. Matt made a beeline out of there, slammed the little door, and taped it shut so no more wasps could get out. We called the exterminator and waited with our breath held until he arrived. Thankfully, that was the end of our wasp horror show (though I felt uneasy whenever the sun shone through our bedroom window in the morning for months afterwards).

I like bees much better than I like wasps;  they seem more useful and less vicious to me.  But honestly, I would really rather not have any stinging insects living in the walls of my home.  You can imagine the sudden dread I felt, then, when I found a giant bumblebee wandering aimlessly around the carpet in our basement rec room one day this week, and then found another one in the exact same spot two days later. With these two horrifying insects-in-the-walls stories still buzzing around in my head, I am now vividly imagining the absolute worst-case scenario happening behind our drywall.  I suppose I should take comfort in the Google search results that tell me bumblebees have "small" hives of "only" several hundred creatures instead of 50,000?

Photo credit:  Wikimedia Commons

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