Have you seen any good horror movies lately? Some movies have titles that send a shiver down your spine without even viewing the film. Im talking about names like Sharknado, Snakes on a Plane or, how about Killer Bees? And speaking of bees, things were really buzzing around our farmhouse recently. Im talking about the literal buzzing of winged insects that decided to make our home their home.
Alas, this wasnt my first rodeo with stinging insects. Id had a similar invasion almost 10 years ago. It culminated with my being stung in my own bedroom while sleeping one night. Id been spraying the offenders for weeks, but that nocturnal sting had been the last straw I knew it was time to get serious and call a professional exterminator to solve the problem. I did so and soon those bad-news bees were history.
While checking a potted windowbox of parsley on the deck a few days before, Id spotted a no-legged crawler, a caterpillar that was more than welcome to keep chewing up the herbs I cultivate in containers handy to the kitchen.
This time around, Dennis and I started noticing buzzing winged insects toward the end of summer. They seemed to have a preference for an old chicken crate that I use on the porch as a plant stand in the summer. I thought maybe they were pollinating some of my geraniums in that area near the bottom of a window in the old summer kitchen, now turned into a dining room.
At first, we were reluctant to spray these bugs, both because of their possible benefits, but also because I didnt want to chance damaging my plants. However, Dennis is allergic to bee venom, so we decided action was necessary. We got some flying insect spray, gave the porch area a good spraying and thought our problem was solved. We were wrong.
The next day and the next, there were more bees than ever. Looking at them more closely, we noticed two things these werent honeybees or even carpenter bees and they werent pollinating my plants. Instead, they had apparently taken up residence in some crevices in the summer kitchens brick wall.
We tried to take a live and let live approach to the situation. That worked well for a while, until one day when Dennis was working from home with engineering plans spread across the dining room table, he noticed one of the bees sitting on one of his plans. Then he heard others buzzing about and traced the sound to the inside of the window where we had sprayed the exterior.
By the next morning, these flying insects had started dropping in to visit our dining room. Most of them were on the windowsill, while others had found their way onto walls, ceiling, the floor and lampshades. Some of them were dead, but others were quite lively and, of course, they seemed to have an unnatural attraction for landing on Dennis.
Grasshoppers have been part of the human diet for eons. John the Baptist, for example, lived humbly in the wilderness, wearing a garment of camel hair, held in place by a leather belt, and famously subsisting on a very healthy diet of locusts aka grasshoppers and wild honey.
It became obvious that an alternate worksite was necessary, but where else did we have a large enough expanse of table space to accommodate the sizable drawings Dennis works on? It required some thinking out of the box or, more accurately, thinking out of the closet to come up with a solution.
Stashed away inside a closet in another part of the house were two red vinyl-topped card tables that are older than I am. One had belonged to my parents, a gift my Bowman grandparents had given to each of their children one Christmas; the other identical card table had actually belonged to my Bowman grandparents.
Those card tables had been hard-used. My mother brought hers out whenever we had company, setting plates of cookies, baskets of pretzels and cups of punch and coffee on top of it. I recall my grandmother using her card table in much the same way on the Christmas Eves we gathered at her house.
I dont remember our card table ever being used for playing cards, but relatives sat around it many a winter Sunday evening playing spirited hands of dominoes. I sometimes used it to do my homework or work on a jigsaw puzzle.
Those activities ceased as years passed and the twin card tables sat unused, propped against the closet wall. Fortunately, I came up with the bright idea of setting them up, side by side, over the top of the living room coffee table to make a temporary work surface for Dennis.
It wasnt ideal, but it got the job done as we battened down all the hatches leading from the dining room and kitchen, which shared an open doorway between them. Dennis took shelter in his new temporary office and called an exterminator, who showed up a day later. He identified our unwanted guests as yellow jackets and spread some powder into the crevices they had excavated into the old mortar of our brick house.
Soon the yellow jackets were dropping like flies in the dining room. We swept them up by the dozen, and sometimes assisted their demise with the flick of a fly swatter. It took a few days, but eventually their eviction was completed, the cracks in the mortar were filled and life in the farmhouse started buzzing along again without our bee-impersonating buddies.
Sue Bowman is a freelance writer in southeastern Pennsylvania.
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What's the Buzz? Bees Around The Home | The Heart of the Farm is the Family - Lancaster Farming