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The Secret Life of Bees

Two weeks to the hour, the honey bees returned yesterday. In fewer numbers than last time, thankfully, but two or three still manged to get into my dining room and another 3 or 4 sneaked in my basement. That’s no 7 and 20+ like last time, but it’s still more than I’d like.

My Google-based hunch was that I was seeing a secondary swarm attracted by the pheromones of the previous Queen. My new exterminator/chemical engineer friend Shirish agreed.  I was told that these workers would investigate, pick up the scent of the pesticide I used the last time, and probably move on. Indeed, I saw a few on my rose bushes (good) but none in my house or going through my bricks (bad) today. Unfortunately, I did find one poisoned bee in a window-sill to remind me that toxins sprayed in ignorant haste can go on killing for weeks. I sure hope yesterday’s bees don’t move on to contaminate a nearby colony.

I also hope that this is the last of it! I’ve been green-lighted to patch cracks in my basement, but I can’t do any tuck-pointing until two more weeks without swarm behavior goes by.

Among the many reasons I hope the bees do not return is that they are contradicting my ethical lessons to Simon. Just last week, when he proudly announced that “Baron has killed an ant” and that both of them “stomped on ants”, I explained to him that while I was not angry with either boy, that I would rather he not do this. My reasoning to him was that ants live outside and that we should leave them alone to build their houses and search for food. They might be tiny, I suggested, but they have lives to live, too.

We only kill animals when they come inside, pose a threat, and cannot be safely removed. And even then we do so with regret. (Except–I’ll admit it–for the roach.) I didn’t violate those rules yesterday, but I still wasn’t thrilled to explain to Simon that I squished/killed the bees that interrupted his dinner and terrified him.  Especially when Simon stopped sobbing and shrieking long enough to ask:

“Did you take him outside?”

while I was holding a shoe against the glass.

“Uh, no honey. He’s dead.”

Good times! Oh precious honey bees, I have a lawn of clover for you, wildflowers and roses by the dozen, and lots of stumps and bushes that would provide great homes for your colonies. Please choose one them soon and stay out of my brick!

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