Never count on life getting easier. Ever.
I live in a beautiful area. It’s almost rural. We’re surrounded by trees, lakes, mountains, reservoirs and lots of critters. This past Spring, we had a carpenter ant invasion. It’s happened before, and at the first sign of them, I call in the pros. I don’t want anything eating my house. When you live in a town like Ringwood, you are constantly reminded that Nature wants your house back. From bears to raccoons, to ants and other pests, they’re always around and vigilance is mandatory.
When I hired my current exterminator service, I had invited two companies to quote on the ant problem. The first guy gave me a quote that was in line with others I’d received in the past. The second guy came and said they’d not only treat the ant problem, but would come back and deal with any other pests that plagued us, like bees.
Bees! Yes! Every Spring, bees start getting into my house. I have floor to ceiling windows in my living room, and they seemed to be coming in through the window frames. I’d go through long periods where there were no bees in evidence, and then, suddenly, I’d start seeing many. Not swarms, but maybe six a day. I’d spray them with peppermint oil and they’d fall. I hate that stuff, though. While it’s supposedly safe for pets and the environment, it smells like peppermint (which isn’t a favorite) and the oil runs all over the place. It’s really tough to clean, particular off of glass. But better annoyed than stung, and I don’t want to get my kitties sick.
Last week, the summer bee surge began and I called for reinforcements. I phoned on Thursday. They gave me an appointment for Monday afternoon between 1 and 5. Eww. Oh well, we’ll do our best.
Friday, I coped. Since they stay in the kitchen and living room, I can hide out in my office. Saturday, Bob and I had a concert in Manhattan, so we left early and dined out. Sunday, the bees went from surge to siege. They were all over the kitchen. Bob went outside and found the probable entry point: an old exhaust vent that had been closed but pried open enough to admit bees. Bob sprayed the last of the peppermint oil in the hole and closed it up with duct tape.
The bees continued to come inside. They would emerge from the under-cabinet lights and fly up to the kitchen skylight. They’d fly through the beam space from the kitchen toward the bright light of the living room windows. Bee carcasses dropped everywhere.
I went to the supermarket and bought more bee spray. This time I grabbed the black can rather than the green. I meant business. I wanted these varmints dead and I wanted less peppermint grease dripping down.
The new spray was helpful, but Bob continued to swat at the intruders, finishing the job the sprays started. He worked up quite a sweat. Meanwhile, I got the bucket and mop and cleaned up the dripping insecticide. There were still bees coming in, but they were clearly staggering from the poison, proving easy to smack between mop strokes.
Bob and I cleaned up and went out for lunch. Upon our return, dead bees littered the floor, countertops and sink. “It’s Bee-mageddon!” I called to Bob as I began sweeping up the carnage.
As the evening approached, the buzzing activity stopped and we were able to watch TV in peace. I could get drinks and snacks from the kitchen without my skin crawling. Bob thought he’d solved the problem. I was quietly glad the pros were coming.
Monday morning, more dead bees graced the floor of the kitchen and buzzed about as I tried to make coffee. Armed with the black can, rolled up newspaper and dust pan with brush, I killed a bunch more and got the coffee going. I went downstairs to feed the cats and came back up to find many more bees in the living room and kitchen.
I called the service and begged them to get a guy over as quickly as the schedule would allow. I haven’t been able to wash my dishes or make a salad all weekend. I’m too creeped out and afraid I will eventually get stung. Boy, am I glad Mom’s not here for this.
At 2 pm, I had a teleconference scheduled for the planning of a real-life industry conference in 2012. Of course, the exterminator arrived about 15 minutes in. I muted the call while the others carried on, blissfuly unaware of my situation. When I showed him the affected areas of my home, the color drained out of his face. I knew I was in trouble.
I showed him where Bob had intervened at the back of the house. Once he got started, he saw something had been put in there to plug the hole. I called Bob at work. Yeah, he used Gorilla Glue. Not good. Bob had sealed in a great big honkin’ nest of yellow jackets. Now their only way out was into the kitchen. Yikes! Bob and the exterminator spoke and he went back out to attack the problem. I returned to the safety of my office and resumed active participation in the conference call.
The poor guy got stung, but he got to the nest. He was able to create an opening and shoot in his magical white powder. We could see the bees flying around looking like they’d been to a cocaine party. They were dropping, but they were still coming out from their hideout and skeeving me. The kitchen sink, countertops, kitchen floor, living room floor and window sills were strewn with bee carcasses. He assured me they’d all be dead by tomorrow. If any survived, call the office. Someone would return to finish the job if necessary. Meanwhile, use the black can (and I could see the pro had resorted to it himself).
I called Bob and asked him to bring home more spray. I told him I’d clean up best I could, but there were still enough live bees around to prevent me from making a salad and a proper dinner. And the house stank of bee killer. I would open the doors and windows to exhaust the fumes and bring the kitties downstairs to safety until the poison dissipated. Maybe we should dine out tonight? I didn’t want to, but the buzzing of the dying-but-still living bees persuaded me to say yes.
Then the sky opened up. I saw a weather report this morning about flash floods in lower lying areas. Thank God I live in the mountains. The rain rolls off our house, down the storm drains and into the reservoirs. Sorry about the bee killer stuff in the water supply, folks. Couldn’t “bee” avoided!
The rain was coming down so hard I had to close everything to just a crack. So much for aerating the fumes.
At least the exterminator got here before the deluge. It really would have sucked to have to deal with the bees during the torrential downpour.
Tuesday morning I awoke and tentatively looked around. More bee carcasses in the living room. A couple of writhers still in their death throes. A couple of dead ones on the kitchen floor. I listened for buzzing. I started to make coffee. I went down to feed the kitties and decided it was safe to let them come back upstairs.
Returning to the kitchen to make my breakfast, I started making some calls. Mom still has not been evaluated at Potomac. I spoke to Mom’s long term care folks and explained the situation. I was given another number: the people they hire to hire the people who do the assessments. Okee dokee. I called the person in charge of Mom’s case and left a voice mail. A lovely associate of hers called me back.
As I explained my mother’s situation to this new contact, I saw Cody, my kitten, in rapt attention to something in the living room. You guessed it. More live bees. Seven of them.
I managed not to freak out, but once I concluded that call, I rang the exterminators. A nice fellow answered and said these were probably stragglers who had not returned to the nest. I told him they were a lot more lively than the ones I’d found earlier this morning and that the tech who’d been out yesterday told me they should all be dead by now. He said no problem, and he could have someone come back this morning. Awesome!
Meanwhile, out came the rolled up newspaper, black can and cleaning implements. I smacked the ones I could reach, sprayed the ones I couldn’t. I left the corpses out for the tech to see.
I went to work, listening for the doorbell. By noon, no one had come. “Oh, you’re not on the schedule. And it takes 24-48 hours for the insecticide to work. But I’ll put you on the schedule for tomorrow morning.” Swell. At least now I can get my day going. I swept up the dead bees, cleaned up the dripping spray, looked for more live ones and, finding none (except for an apparently-dead bee butt hanging out from the light fixture in the kitchen) I dumped the refuse and tentatively planned the rest of my day.
Desperately needing a non-bee-related work-out, I got my athletic gear on and got going. As I got to the cool-down, I could see a man at my door. It was another extermination tech.
“I thought you were coming tomorrow morning.”
“Oh? Well, what’s going on?”
I escorted him up the stairs and gave him the Buzz. No bees were apparent. It was looking good. I showed him the outside and returned his colleague’s tools to him. He said he’d call me in the morning to check and see if the call was still necessary.
“If you hear screaming, please come back.”
He smiled and said he would.
This morning, no bees, dead or alive. The nurse scheduled to assess Mom just called; she’s delayed at a doctor’s appointment, but she’ll be there. Genworth has finally issued the first of many pending reimbursement checks for Mom’s care. The sun is shining. And I am feeling a whole lot better. Time to buzz off!