I don’t know how Ms. Eloise found me. It doesn’t matter. I love getting out and finding out where bees have showed up and invaded people’s personal space. She sounded concerned. A little scared. I told her I could come by after work and look at the situation and see what I could do. She gave me the address, and thanked me.
As I mentioned before, I don’t usually see bees on my own. I have to have them pointed out to me. Yet again, this was the case. “Do you see them?” I was looking at a corner where some wasps were buzzing around. Ms. Eloise redirected my attention to the top of her picture window.
That was not what I was looking for.
It was not a huge hornets’ nest, but it was unquestionably a hornets’ nest. Not a honeybee hive. This simple fact took the entire operation well out of my area of expertise. I don’t bring any specialized knowledge of hornets to the table, and I really can’t help any more than I would be able to do at home.
“Ma’am, I deal with honeybees. And my price point starts at $300. But this situation doesn’t fit with what I know. I mean, I can use hornet spray, but I wouldn’t be able to do anything you couldn’t do. If you want me to do it, I can come by after work tomorrow and do it for $50, but….”
“Please do it.”
We continued to talk, and I suggested the local pest control guy, who is a friend of mine. Suggested that she could get him to remove the nest, and treat her house, for essentially what she was offering to pay me. “I want you to do it. I am allergic, and I just want them gone.”
I have a can of hornet spray at the house. I use it after removing hives from houses, because after removing a hive, I need to discourage returning bees from re-occupying. I bring the can to work with me, and after work, I drive over and suit up.
The hornets are not terribly active, but there was a guard hornet at the entrance. While I was gearing up, I tested the spray out on a few other red wasp nests that dotted the eaves of the house. When I felt that my aim was pretty good, I sprayed the nest.
I was ready to run.
The first hornet hit the ground under the windowsill. I sprayed some more. Nothing further.
As anti-climaxes go, this one was really racking up some anti-climax points.
Because the nest was just beyond the reach of my knife, I walked around the house to find a board, stick, or something to tie the cutter on. By the time I returned with a pole, there were more dead hornets on the ground and on the sill. Not huge numbers. Mean looking, but few in number. And dead.
I cut the nest free of the house, and dosed the space with more of the poison. No stings, no chase scenes, nothing but a few dead hornets. My A-CP rating for this job was off the charts.
Ms. Eloise had already paid me (and she left quickly, headed back to work), and so all I had to do was clean up a little, shed the suit (98 degrees and high humidity – I had sweat through my work clothes by the time I was done), and leave. I left the mostly-unused can of hornet spray on her doorstep. And took a few more pictures as I was leaving.
My specialty is honeybee removal. The point of the removal is to save as many bees as you can, and provide the hive a new place. Extermination is something different.
But the truth is, some of the same principles are involved, in a way. In either case, the natural world comes too close to the man-made environment, and we look to beat it back. Particularly those elements of the natural world that come with pointy bits (honeybees, scorpions, snakes, hornets, spiders, wolverines), we want them at a distance.
As I stated before, I don’t know anything about hornets. I am not aware of a world-wide hornet shortage, or who, exactly, that would inconvenience. I don’t know all of the good qualities of hornets, and I am less fascinated by their social structure than my bees or even ants. So when I get asked to help out by removing some, I don’t mind, but I am not doing anything with any understanding or specialized knowledge. But sometimes….
Sometimes you just have to help out a neighbor.