This past Sunday morning, our doorbell rang at 7:00. Charlie ran to open the door before the ringing woke up our still sleeping children, and there stood one of our neighbors.
She wanted to know if we realized there was a beehive on one of our palm trees?
(Can you see it - on the far left stump?)
We actually had done some yard work earlier in the week and didn't see a beehive. Curious to see what she was talking about, Charlie threw on a pair of shoes and walked down the side of our property and what he first thought was a cluster of snails at the base of a palm tree, turned out to be a hive of honey bees.
A rather HUGE hive.
Now, we've dealt with bees in the past. Or rather, wasps.
A few years ago, when Charlie and I were visiting my father in Massachusetts for the Fourth of July, he told Charlie - over dinner one night - that he had a hive in his pool house that he was hoping his son-in-law could help him knock down. My father's grand plan was that they would wait until night, when all the wasps were sleeping. And then, they'd tip toe out to the pool house and hit the nest with some high potency Wasp Killer spray. But first, they'd dress from head-to-toe in winter gear so they wouldn't get stung.
After the men got ready and were wearing snow pants and down jackets and hats and mittens and snow goggles, they walked out in to the hot and humid July night. They made their way down to the pool house while I stood on the deck above them, watching the scene unfold.
I wish I had been blogging at that point in my life, because I absolutely would have taken a picture of my husband, who was tasked with carrying the flashlight, which had been strapped to his head in the form of a headlamp. Charlie's job was to stand closest to the nest and shine his light so that my father could see where to spray.
None of this seemed very safe to me, but they were men.
And there were bugs.
And they had Wasp Killer Spray.
And it was night.
And they had just had a beer and they were feeling very confident.
And it would have taken a lot of duct tape to stop them.
As they descended to the pool area, I could hear the guys talking. "Look at 'em. There must be a thousand, sleeping peacefully. Those buggers aren't going to know what the hell hit 'em. Ready? Let's take out those bastards!!"
With that, my father started spraying. And almost immediately, I could hear my husband talking to my father, "Walter, Walter! You're getting them! But oh, oh, they're waking up! And OH! They're starting to fly out of the nest! And OH SH*T!! AHH!! They're FLYING TO THE LIGHT!!!"
(The light, which may I remind you - was strapped to my husband's head.)
I could see the headlamp go bounding across the yard, while my father stood in the pitch black pool house yelling, "Charlie! CHARLIE!! Come back! You've got the light!!"
The wrought-iron pool furniture which had been staged all around the pool house was knocked out of the way and two warmly dressed grown men were tripping and stumbling and trying their best not to fall in the pool while shouting obscenities as they tried to outrun the angry wasps that were now chasing after them. From the deck I screamed, "Charlie! Throw the lamp!! Get the light OFF your head!!"
My husband flung the headlamp and then ran over to one corner of the yard and started pulling off all of his snow gear. My father followed him and while Charlie bent down yelling that he had something stuck in his hair, my father smacked Charlie repeatedly on the top of his head to dislodge any wasps that might be trapped. The whole sight was by far one of the funniest things I had ever seen, and I was laughing so hard I almost fell off the balcony.
The next day, the men inspected their handiwork, and since the nest was saturated in Wasp Killer Spray and there were dead wasps all over the ground, they deemed that this operation had been a raging success. But, they both decided that the next time a huge nest of wasps settled on my father's property, it might be worth it to call a professional.
Hence, this past Sunday morning, Charlie and I made the unanimous decision that we weren't going to attempt knocking down this hive. And besides, if these were in fact honey bees - which we believed they were - we'd rather have them moved someplace instead of killed, if that was an option.
So we spent the next hour on the phone calling around to various bee removal specialists. We were quoted rates ranging from $150.00 to $500.00. Ultimately, we settled on the least expensive company that told us they would capture all the bees in a vacuum and move them to their honey bee farm.
Charlie and I imagined a high technology system with a low flow vacuum that would safely capture all of the bees in a system at the back of a truck. We imagined that the Bee Removal Specialist would be wearing a bee keeper suit and protective hat.
An hour later, Russ arrived on our doorstep.
Wearing short sleeves.
And carrying his altered shop vac.
He climbed on to our steep slope and surveyed the hive, which he estimated had a colony of at least 50,000 bees.
He then set about removing bees with his shop vac, which was stuffed with rags so the bees couldn't fly out, once caught. He said he would bring the bees back to his farm and release them in to big white boxes so they could reestablish the hive.
He told me that when you are afraid of bees, your body puts off a scent and the bees will sting. But if you just stay relaxed, the bees will just fly around and not bite you.
I'd heard that before. My husband hadn't.
Which is why when Charlie and I did a run a few weeks ago on a country road and we could hear what sounded like a helicopter hovering over head ... and we looked up to see a black cloud of bees swarming five feet above us ... I remained perfectly calm while my husband took off running as fast as his legs could carry him.
While the bees swarmed a short-sleeved Russ up on our hillside, he told me that he's had both of his knees replaced and one of his hips. He's suffered two massive heart attacks and just recently, he had a quadruple by-pass and a pacemaker installed.
It took Russ about an hour to remove the hive. And while I trusted his ability to remove the bees from our property, I definitely didn't trust his physical health and was prepared that at any moment, he would pitch forward and require emergency resuscitation.
And seeing as my husband was in the house with the baby, I'd probably be the one to rescue him.
Thankfully, I do know how to perform CPR.
Since you never know when you might need it, whether at a pool or perhaps when a 79-year old bee technician shows up at your house, if you haven't yet left a comment on this post, you have until Monday.