For some damned reason that I cannot figure out, I just cannot let a bee hive alone. Not Honey bees. They are going through some tough times these days and I like honey, so they get a pass. But anything else gets obliterated.
My method of choice would be fire – and a lot of it – but that is usually not practical, or safe. If I’m in a good mood I might dose the nest with some chemical like Sevin and let well enough alone. If I’m not in such a good mood I use a stronger chemical that kills on contact.
I also usually give bumble bees a pass for a couple of reasons. First, they are one of the last remaining pollinators doing the necessary job of pollination without asking much more than to be left alone.
Second, I have done enough damage to the bumble population in my younger years. Actually, the first sting that I suffered was from a bumble bee that I had mistaken for a dirt clod. I tried to cut it in half with a spackle knife. I might have been two or three years old at the time. Got me on the thumb.
Then there was that time that I lit the bumble bee nest on fire in the woods far out behind Lightening Brook Park. That was pretty stupid, I agree. But Providence was watching out for me. And thank God He (She, whomever) was, because my gray matter was not firing on all cylinders at that time.
Bumbles are fairly non-aggressive, as long as you are not trying to cut them in half, light them on fire en-mass or pounding 3-inch nails above their nest – like I was today.
I’m trying to complete a project. The stairs in the backyard have some boards that need to be replaced. I knew full well there was a bumble nest in there. I actually pulled up a board covering a part of the nest and got away with it. There were some tense moments, sure, but I dodged the sentinels, replaced the rotten board with a nice, new one and got the hell out of there.
At that time I did minimal nailing, mainly because I ran out of nails. But I rectified that situation earlier today. Armed with a hammer and plenty of 10d bright commons, I began nailing. I got about 2 nails in when I saw a petite (as opposed to a grande) bumble squeeze out from between two boards. I barely had time to register that I may have cut the board too narrow when it made a bee-line for my ass.
I did my usual dance; spinning, swatting and uttering sounds that I am not proud of. My efforts were slowed by the hammer in one hand and nails in the other. The bumble circled me twice then darted at my face, zapping me on the left side of my nose.
Sonofabitch! I dropped my tools and distanced myself. A fast self eval told me that I got off light. Further inspection in the mirror revealed no stinger imbedded. A little Afterbite quelled most of the discomfort. Two shots of rum got rid of the rest (Yes, two. You don’t take one aspirin at a time, do you?). After that I cleaned up my tools and bagged the project for the day.
I usually get stung once or twice a year. It’s all part of living out in the country. But it got me to thinking about the pain ratio of different flying stinging insects, of which I have been stung by most. There seems to be a quantum jump in pain as one goes down the list. Sort of like six stages of hell.
(NOT tempting fate here, at all, just saying).