Monday, September 22, 2014

the saga of the bees

Noticed flying critters near the door this summer. They were flying in and out, quite industriously, from a spot between the foundation and the wall. I didn't bother them and they didn't bother me.

They were small and straight, black and yellow, bee-like things. The question of their identity arose. Honeybees? Thus began the saga of the flying critters.

For two months I've been talking to and emailing beekeepers, researching online, and working with my carpenter. I became convinced they were honeybees. I couldn't bear the thought of killing them and neither could most of my friends and the beekeepers with whom I spoke. I like bees. I like my flower garden full of bees.

I saw photos online of the damage honeybees can do to walls and houses.

I couldn't find a beekeeper to come and get them. And then I did. A pleasant young man wanted them. I'd have to coordinate the bee-man and the carpenter. The carpenter to cut a hole in the wall and the bee-man to vacuum them up and take them to a new home.

The carpenter came to inspect. He measured, tapped, looked with a small flexible camera, listened with my stethoscope, and looked some more. He thought. He dodged the flying critters as he thought. He said, "I'd like to wait til November, when they die down a bit."

The bee-man said he couldn't wait til November, the bees would starve in their new home. He had to move them now to get them settled and keep them alive. The bee-man said he'd cut the hole in the wall, get the bees, and let the carpenter patch it up. Good plan.

Then I went to the Common Ground Fair. There was a beekeeper there, with a hive of honeybees. I looked at the honeybees. They didn't look anything like my flying critters. These were bigger and slower. Fuzzy. I talked to the beekeeper and said he it sounded like I had yellow jackets.

I came home and looked online again. I sprayed a few of the critters and took a close look at one. It was small, black and yellow, not fuzzy, and had 4 yellow legs. Yellow jacket.

I went out to the garden to pick beans. Something landed on a bean flower. Something fuzzy, brown and yellow: a honeybee.

Looked at my specimen again: yellow jacket.

Ok, so now I have yellow jackets in the wall of the house. Will wait til winter to cut open the wall and clean out the nest of dead insects. Will seal the hole. That's the plan.