Bee Situation: Resolved (+ Writer Unboxed Redirect)

In most circles it would be considered rude to begin a suspenseful story one week, follow with a suspenseful update the next, then, having hooked your audience, fail to deliver the conclusion in a timely matter. I’m sorry, Zesties. As I’ve been gently reminded this week, I am a story-tease. If there were a story-court I’d be story-guilty in the first degree.

Hence, this post which aims to commute my sentence. blinks eyelashes appealingly

To what am I referring? If you follow me on Facebook, you might have read about our bee situation when I appealed for help from apiarists of the amateur or professional variety. Specifically, we found a bee hive in our yard this summer and wanted to know how to handle it. (We actually found two. One nest was under our front sidewalk, accessed by a tiny crack. But it was a nest full of friendly bumbles. You could stamp on the sidewalk for a full minute before a single bee would appear, look around half-heartedly, then head to a nearby blossom with all the aggressiveness and agility of a Boeing 787. In other words, we had no objection to letting them stay.)

Two bees attempting to land

Two bees attempting to land


Though the ToolMaster and I are aware about the threats to our precious pollinators,  the second hive was troublesome. It was located in an eave of our garden shed, a few feet from the door, and populated by a swifter species of insect. As was rightly pointed out to me, they threatened anyone searching for a garden implement. So the TM and I talked it over and “decided” it had to go. We’d look for a professional who could trap the hive and move it to a rural location.

Do you see the quotes around decided in the last sentence? No, I have not committed a punctuation crime. Rather, the quotes were meant to express irony, because in the ToolMaster’s case, decided actually meant decided to deceive the wife. As in pretend that this plan would be actualized.

How did I become aware of this distinction, you ask? Why, the phone call from an apiarist supply store asking what size the ToolMaster meant to order when he paid for his bee suit. And smoker. And smoker pellets.

Yes, as it turned out, the tradition of DIY painting, DIY construction, DIY wiring, DIY plumbing and DIY had acquired another DIY extension without my express consent. So.

I fretted, peeps. Because of how the ToolMaster works, I fully expected the following to occur: I’d be writing to a rare deadline or entertaining our rare company or be one minute into a delicate, three-hour cooking project when I’d suddenly see him fitted out in his bee suit, smoker in hand, and be asked to attend to him within the next sixty seconds.

“Jan, can you keep the back door open in case I have to run for cover?”

“Jan, can you stand by with an Epipen?”

“Jan, can you let the neighbors know they must stay indoors until tomorrow morning?” Because let’s face it, when you’re suited-up in an unfamiliar outfit which obscures your vision, hands clumsy from fat mittens, performing a new-to-you activity while thousands of insects attempt to do you in, you should probably anticipate a lengthy process.

About the only potentially good thing to come from this activity, I thought, was that I’d get a photo-essay out of it and be able to revive this blog. Maybe I’d also get a lick or two of urban honey–sweet, with an undertone of smog and a hint of charcoal briquette.

And in fact, for your viewing pleasure, here are the pictures from that fateful day:




Yup. Are you feeling let down? I can’t blame you. Their non-existence created a distinct anti-climactic feeling within my breast, too.

The reason? As best we can determine, a series of high-80s/low-90s days, the shed’s black roof and its sun-warmed position drove the bees away from the shed. The ToolMaster noticed the lack of bee activity and, using the smoker for a touch of caution, took the flashing off the shed in a trice–without notifying me–and found a big fat nothing. No dead bees, as you might expect with Colony Collapse Disorder or pesticide poisoning. No honeycombs. A big fat pfffffft.

How are you feeling now? At this very moment, I have no doubt you’ve been overcome by acute disappointment. Sorry about that!

I, on the other hand, had little opportunity to mourn because an alternative crisis came along almost at once. I thought I was on the grim slide into major-major health troubles. Spoiler alert next line!


I wasn’t. 🙂  If you want to read more and what I learned about my writing during that time, you’re welcome to click through to Writer Unboxed for Wanted: Grim Reaper as Writing Coach. (Details on my health condition in my reply to Donald Maass’ comment below the main column.)

Tell me, Zesties, do you have any bee events to relay, or non-events as the case may be? What was notable about your summer?


18 thoughts on “Bee Situation: Resolved (+ Writer Unboxed Redirect)

  1. What? No honey?

    Thank goodness…I can finally sleep tonight knowing the final buzz. But what about the other hive? Had they moved from there, too? Wonderful imagery with this post…I didn’t need pictures to envision the TM.

    1. No.No honey.

      We think we lost the bumbles as well, though it’s hard to be certain. Their population had never been huge and I could sit outside for ten minutes without spotting a single insect on the warmest of days. Now that our weather has cooled and there isn’t much in the way of flowers, I don’t know if I’m missing their appearance or if they vanished. But this happened last fall, too, so I’m optimistic we’ll see them again in the spring.

  2. I am so very grateful to the universe that you are healthy and here with us.

    As for the bees… pffft! They couldn’t leave at least one little old honeycomb sluiced with a couple drops for all the trouble of ordering a bee suit? Good manners seem be as scarce as honey bees these days.

  3. So glad to have you posting stories like this again, Jan. You’ve been missed! (And I’m just buzzing by to tell you…)

    I have always wanted to keep bees — it is becoming a big thing in this area. But with the Slobbering Beast and our travel schedule, it’s not going to happen for a few more years.

    1. Heh. I guess it was inevitable that the bee jokes would blossom with this crowd. 😉

      I’ve lurked around apiarist forums and the people who keep them tend to be dedicated and incredibly attached to their hives. Personally, I could do without being an apiarist, but ants have always fascinated me. If I’d had better success with them, I’d probably still have an indoor colony to this day.

  4. OMG – laughter is the best medicine and I laughed all the way through this post. Thanks so much Jan for telling us the rest of the story. I had ‘bee’n wondering what had happened. So now what I want to know is what did the TM do with all his kit once he discovered there were no bees to deal with? I have a vision of it hanging all forlorn in the shed where the bees temporarily made their home.

    1. Oh, good question, Vicki! He kept it and–somewhat defensively, I thought, because I might have made the point that it cost almost $200 to acquire the supplies–made use of them almost immediately. For wasps. His mother’s garage had a huge hive and she’d already been stung once, so he suited-up, grabbed a cannister of pesticide and rode off into the sunset while wearing a different visor than the kind one normally associates with a white knight. 😉 He got quite the charge from the experience. He hasn’t yet begun to offer himself out to the neighbors for a pest-removal service, but it’s been close and the season’s not over.

      PS: So glad I could make you laugh!

  5. Funny stuff, Boss! 🙂 You’re looking for bee events? We got ’em. There is a particularly nasty variety of ground bees here in the SW corner of the Mighty Mitten, and their population seems to be exploding of late. I ran into them twice in my carpentry days. They attack and give chase better than any bee I’ve encountered. My wife’s had more than one encounter while showing houses, on one occasion having the small children of clients stung multiple times. She now carries Benadryl in the car.

    Welp, we didn’t think too much about it, but a curious and rambunctious pup and our thriving hives don’t mix well. She’s been covered in them not once, but twice. All three of us (Mo, Gidget and I) have all received multiple stings this summer. She clearly remembers the spot of the first hive (alongside the beach path, but cleared out by a neighbor). She hurries by to this day, about six weeks since the incident. Can’t say as I blame her. Hopefully the colder weather will begin to offer some insurance we’ll get through her first year without a third incidence.

    Thanks for the Sunday morning laughs. Have a great day, Jan!

    1. Poor Gidget! Poor you!

      You’d think dogs would be able to hear and avoid critters like that. Maybe it’s a skill learned the hard way?

      Interesting about ground bees. I’ve never seen such a beast, though I know they exist. Around here, that domain belongs to wasps and hornets.

  6. Somehow you’ve turned this non-event into an entertaining story. Although I’m disappointed that I couldn’t vicariously enjoy home grown honey. When I was in convent boarding school the nuns kept hives and we would have to suit up every now and then to help, although I remember more of a big hat and netting, to be honest. Nothing as fancy as a suit. The nuns were already well protected in their habits.

    I think my whole summer was sort of a non-event, but not the kind you write about. Disappointing vegetables, excessive heat and more work than play does not a story make. We do have lots of bees in our garden though, and I love them. I especially planted things long ago to attract them and they have obliged.

    Glad you’re back and well and look forward to more posts from you!

    1. How interesting about the convent bees, Deborah. Seems I’ve vastly underestimated how many people have been involved with bees or would like to be involved with bees in their lifetime.

      Sorry about your summer. I’ve had several like yours and they didn’t provide any sense of renewal. Maybe your fall will make up for it. (Fall is my favorite season, though, so I’m biased.)

    1. Of course it doesn’t matter if your comment trickles in behind the others. I’m always grateful for a response.

      Wow, those are some photos. I’ve been reading about bee-related things for various reasons and have heard of swarming, but 40 pounds? POUNDS? Insane. 🙂

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