Me and the Bees: A Saga

Our tale begins like many other summer tales: during hot relatively warm summer days, filled with children’s laughter as they bound through the quenching spray of a sprinkler, trace circles on the driveway with their bike tires, and experience the joy of burying their toys in the sandbox again and again.

This serene, picturesque scene was shattered, however, by an infestation of Bombus pennsylvanicus. Bees.

Thousands – okay, dozens (but literally, dozens) – of bees had chosen to make our home their home. I mean, I can hardly blame them. It’s a nice place to live. And we are happy to house guests whenever someone is in need of a little hospitality. But not when those guests come equipped with tiny swords on their hind quarters – or when they make playing in the front yard akin to being a ninja dodging drops of liquid as he runs through a waterfall.

Oh, yes they can…

But these bees, as you will soon find out, were not just any bees. They were cunning, scheming, conniving super bees.

Their first move that tipped me off to their evolutionary advancement was their choice for a home. They didn’t hang their hive from an eave, or a gutter, or the bottom side of a roof. No, thinking they were protected, these bees chose to build their headquarters inside a piece of siding on the corner of the house.

When I first noticed the swarm of pointy-bottomed intruders, I figured a quick spray of some bee killer from the friendly neighborhood Ace store would take care of the problem, and so I purchased said spray. Donning a long sleeved shirt and long pants, I went out to spray what I imagined to be this metropolis of bee hives in my corner siding. Upon seeing the swarm of bees in person once again and (not owning a beekeepers mask) deciding I valued my face not being used as a pin cushion, I resolved to wait until nightfall to inflict my damage.

That night, I went out, pointed the can up the hole at the bottom of the siding, pulled the trigger – and watched as nothing but air shot out. I quickly realized the problem: bee spray came in aerosol cans, and aerosol cans had to be level in order to spray. This wasn’t going to work.

I pondered my options. I had a ton of bees in an impossible-to-reach location that I couldn’t spray. I could call an exterminator, but that would mean two things I really didn’t like: paying money and admitting defeat. I researched how to get rid of bees — meaning I did a Google search on my laptop — which loaded me up with guilt. Seriously, did you know that bumble bees are apparently as sacred to us as cows are to Hindus now? Because of this bee shortage that’s going on, anyone who asks on an internet forum how to get rid of bees is made to feel like he just asked the best way to destroy Disneyland while a million little kids watch.

Anyway, having turned up no real useful information (something the internet is quite adept at doing), I was back to the drawing board. At the suggestion of my lovely wife, I eventually turned to the one item every man turns to when he’s run out of options: duct tape.

If they were living in that piece of corner siding, flying in and out the bottom of it, I reasoned that all I had to do was duct tape the bottom shut and let nature take its course once they were trapped inside. And so I waited for nighttime once again, armed myself with a flashlight and the roll of duct tape, and did the deed.

That night, it rained.

My duct tape was hanging off the house the next morning. So the next night, I duct taped it again. The next morning, I went outside with great anticipation… and stepped right into a swarm of bees. Somehow, the duct tape did not seal their entrance completely. And so I did what any sane man would have done: added more duct tape.

This became the cycle over the next several days: go out to check on the duct tape trap, see swarm of bees who had outsmarted the duct tape, add more duct tape, rinse and repeat.

Eventually, it looked like we were trying to hold the corner of our house together with the most white trash solution we could think of:

If you picture me maniacally laughing at this point,
you’re not far from the truth.

That ought to hold them in there, I thought. But I thought wrong.

When I went to check on the situation at lunch time the day after my maniacal taping spree, I was greeted with a larger swarm than I had ever seen. As I watched them, I realized: they could get out, but they couldn’t get back in. Now I had the entire hive flying around my house at the same time.

‘Well, good,’ I reasoned, employing my endless optimism (heh). ‘Eventually, they’ll just give up and move somewhere else to build a new home.’ I felt pretty good about myself – all those bee lovers on the internet would be proud of the humanitarian way in which I (accidentally) handled this crisis.

But as I stood watching the bees, suddenly something dawned on me. They were flying around the gutters, the front door, the drain pipe, the window sills… I had not considered the fact that the bees would look for a spot for their new hive someplace else on my home! I felt like a novice chess player who took an opposing bishop only to watch my queen get captured on the next move. Something had to be done.

The bees that weren’t flying around in panic or scouting out potential new hive locations were all congregated at the duct tape, trying to figure a way back in. So I grabbed the bottle of bee spray and began picking them off one by one.

A trip back to our friendly neighborhood Ace store, three bottles of spray, and about 30 or so dead bees later, I finally realized this was not going to be a cost effective way to contain our situation. There were still dozens of bees flying around. Only now, they seemed to be getting back in their hive somehow! So I sat and watched, fascinated by my worthy opponents. And what I saw amazed me.

Apparently, these bees had spent some time down in the sewers with Splinter the rat, and discovered the secret of the ooze. (For those of you under the age of 25, you’ll probably want to Google that.) I watched as they not only worked together to push the duct tape away from the house enough to make a path large enough to fly in and out, but as they burrowed through the concrete as well.

Seriously, are bees supposed to be able to do this?

Now it was serious. Perhaps for the first time in my life, duct tape had failed me. Now what was I supposed to do? I thought back to my “research” I had done and remembered someone said something about mixing some syrup and dish soap together and setting that out to attract, capture, and kill bees. So I tried it. For an entire day, the concoction sat there, right by the little concrete burrowers’ home, and you know how many bees I ended up catching?

Zero. Not a single freaking one. The bees were on to me. If they can dig through concrete, they can resist the lure of syrup tinged with death soap. That’s when I realized that if I was going to take care of this problem, it was time to get serious. Dangerous, even.

I conjured up my inner Darkwing Duck (yeah, you’ll probably want to Google that one, too):

Let’s get dangerous!

It was time to remove the corner siding and face the hive mano a bee-o. And so I donned a long sleeve shirt, pants, and gloves, grabbed my hammer, and began prying that piece of siding off the house. In the midst of the swarm, I successfully dislodged the siding — and when that piece came off, I discovered why all my duct taping prowess was for naught:

The Gates of Hell, Bee Style

That is a picture of a bee hive protruding out from a gaping hole in the concrete where our steps connect to the foundation of the house. So the hive wasn’t inside the corner siding after all — the siding was just covering up the hole where the hive was. And finally, I had a clear path to victory.

I went to Wal-Mart, picked up a final can of bee spray, and waited until night fell once again. Once again, donning long sleeves and a flashlight, I slipped quietly into the night – only this time I knew exactly where I was aiming. I emptied three quarters of the bottle into the hive and the surrounding hole, saving a quarter for the next day just in case any bees survived the Benjamin Linus-like purge I had just committed. (Non-LOST fans, go ahead and Google that one as well.)

Over the next several days, we saw two bees total, and eventually they left as well. The corner siding is back on the house, the saga has drawn to a happy ending for my family (though, admittedly, not for the bees — to all those internet bee lovers out there, sorry I burned down Disneyland), and I have declared victory over the bees. As I tweeted:

I am officially declaring today V-B day here — as in victory over bees day. Celebration and blog post to follow. :)

And now, as Paul Harvey would say, you know the rest of the story.