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Monday, June 14, 2010

The Bees

June 14, 2010

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at my dining room table doing my free writing and I saw bees buzzing around the side of the garage. The garage is canted diagonally from the house, and there’s a lovely perennial bed planted alongside (for which I claim no credit as it was planted by the previous owners), and from my seat at the table I see the blue clapboard and white window trim of the garage and the tops of the turtlehead and astrilbe planted alongside. Also a troublesome rosebush of some kind. But anyway, I’m sitting there and I see bees buzzing around the trim and the painted cedar boards. Buzzing and buzzing. I watch, I write – I describe all I see before me. The bees remind me of last fall, when we discovered three yellow jacket nests one atop the other in the raised bed along the side of the house ($150 to remove, which was nice of the guy who did it, who was supposed to charge per nest but didn’t), and then the next day a scary-looking perfect stereotype of a bees’ nest hanging from a tree right above the place we were training the puppy to pee, a strange, grey and white papery concoction that turned out to be a bald-faced hornets’ nest. ($150 for the same guy, this time in a complete hazmat suit and mask, and even wearing that and carrying a long hose attached to a canister on his back, he still ran away after he sprayed). This is good fodder for free writing. I finish my fifteen minutes and turn to revising a story for my workshop. This is my routine, and days and days go by. I sit. I watch the bees. There are different kinds, that much I know, the wasps and the blundering bumblebee-like critters that seem to bombard more than to buzz around the boards. From some memory stash of trivia I recall these are likely carpenter bees. I sit, I write, I describe what I see, feel, hear, remember – I free write. More days go by, until one morning, when my 2nd grader and I go outside to wait for her school bus, and she stops by the perennials, by the garage, and looking up says, “Mommy, look, those bees are going inside the wood.”

Carpenter bees. The writing and observing self snaps back into the reluctant home owning self. I look up where she’s looking, her head tilted back almost resting against her Hello Kitty backpack. (“Next year, Mommy, I am going to need a different backpack.”) Bees are indeed disappearing behind the slats up by the eaves, and there is this ugly orange-brown dripping stain in two places.

Sue the exterminator is very nice, and not at all critical. She refers matter-of-factly to the staining, and to the tendency for carpenter bees to return annually to a place they like, and thus for the need to re-spray next year. She suggests fresh paint as a deterrent, but I know that is out of the question. She tours the exterior of the house and I am relieved that she mentions nothing else out of order, for I feel sure that if there were anything she could spray and charge me for, she would mention it. She offers a $400 anti-bee package of automatic house spraying (doesn’t cover nests/hives in trees or flower beds). I pass, politely, thinking of all the pesticides. She sprays and powders the carpenter bee holes. $120 pass from me to Sue. Now I do my free writes in the dining room and there are no bees. The troublesome rose bush is in my direct sight line, though.


  1. If you had had sons instead of daughters that paper wasp nest would have been down before you knew it existed, and for the small price of a sting or two. As for the carpenter bees, I'd suggest filling the holes with wood putty or spray-in insulating foam or something. And then covering them with that out-of-the-question paint... - TAL

  2. wood putty. okay. check. filing that on the to do list. hoping to get to that soon.