Monday, July 25, 2011

Buzz Buzz

I opened my eyes to Gene's urgent insistence that I get out of bed right now. The room was pitch black. I was sure that I hadn't been asleep long - I had gone to bed early-ish (for me) but gotten engrossed in a book that I ultimately finished around 1 a.m. Surely I had just turned off the light? But something must be horribly wrong, so I sprang out of bed and into the hallway.

Gene was in the kitchen, looking frantic. I could barely make out the time on the oven: 4:06 a.m. This had better be important.

He had already tried to leave for work, dutifully taking out the bags of trash I had left by the front door. He was between trash and truck when he felt the first sting on his hand, and brushed something away.

Once he had gotten inside his truck and turned on ignition and lights, the second sting came. And the third. And then he made out the shapes of something flying around in the dark...
The poor guy had ticked off a bunch of yellow jackets, and they reacted the same way that I tend to when woken in the middle of the night. Things got nasty.

Things even got inside his shirt, although he didn't realize it until he had come back inside the house. The sight of him whipping off his shirt when he felt them moving, and then dancing and flapping around the kitchen...well, it managed to be humorous even at 4 a.m. Of course, I was upstairs and not in the line of fire.

He killed the bees that fell out of his shirt - three of them, I think. He checked the rest of his clothes. He finally went and closed the front door before the rest of them could swarm inside - we were lucky that he wasn't followed.

But now he had a dilemma. His truck was running, but there were clearly yellow jackets flying around the cab. And we didn't have anything to kill them with.

He stood around and fretted for a little while - what to do, what to do? He was already late, this was going to throw his entire day off. The only thing for him to do, I told him, was to get into one of the other vehicles, drive to the nearest convenience store (about three miles away) and buy some bee spray.

"I don't have time for that!," he said.

"You don't have time to keep standing here, either." (To my credit, I think I managed not to roll my eyes.)

So, with flashlight in hand, he ran as quickly as I've ever seen him move out to the car, and dashed off to the store. He returned with a can of Hot Shot labeled "flying insects", and sprayed down the front of his truck. It worked well enough - if not to kill them, then at least to persuade them to leave - and he was soon on his way to work.

Around 6:30, I finally got back to sleep...just to get up an hour later. Joy.

I was a paranoid mess all morning, because one rogue bee had decided to hang around - I had seen it flitting around the kitchen light, but it never landed where I could see it, or got close enough for me to swat with the rolled-up newspaper that was my new best friend. Eventually, I stopped seeing it...and then my girls pointed out a dead bee on the floor in front of the door. I'm guessing - and optimistically assuming - that it was the one and only.

With him out of the way, the day took on the tone of a normal Monday...just a Monday with a really bad beginning, ha ha.

And then it was time to leave the house.

I had backed my van up to the door the night before, in order to more easily unload the new bikes that had accompanied my girls home from their weekend with Gramma and Grandpa Tommy. As I started to open the door, I saw it - a yellow jacket crawling across the back of my van. Less than a foot away from the door. And in no hurry to leave.

Once he finally buzzed off, I grabbed the can of bee spray and darted outside. Gene had blocked my van in with the car, so I needed to move it out of the way. Walking around the van, I saw that the little jerk was now hanging out on the hood, so I gave him a good shot with the spray. It annoyed him just enough to make him leave. I jumped in the car and got a good scare when a yellow jacket flew toward me from the right - thank goodness, he was on the outside of the car, but that took a few seconds to register.

I managed to get everyone in the van (everyone being myself, my two girls, and their two friends) without incident...although I admit, we jumped in and slammed doors and didn't worry one iota about carseats or seatbelts until we reached the end of the driveway, which is a nice little hike from the front door.

That accomplished, I headed for the gas station, breathing freely for the first time all day. I was free and clear, leaving the bee drama behind me. Even a trip to the grocery store sounded okay in comparison.

At the gas station, I swiped the debit card and put the nozzle into the gas tank...and when I turned around to select the fuel grade, darned if a stinking yellow jacket didn't fly around from the back of my van and land on the pump in front of me.


Seriously?! SERIOUSLY?! Okay...I kept my distance, got my gas, managed to get the gas cap back on and nozzle back in the proper place before leaping back into the van. (The bee had been distracted by a bit of food someone had left on the ground, thank goodness.)

We headed across the street to make a deposit at the bank - and another one crawled across my windshield.

I was never going to escape.

Thankfully, that was the last one that I saw - although I was paranoid every time we stopped for the rest of the afternoon. And let me tell ya, maneuvering groceries from van to house once we were finished involved some pretty stealthy moves. There were more bees outside, but no more got close.

I had picked up more bee spray at the grocery store - meant specifically for wasps and hornets - and Gene bravely headed outside after work to try to locate and annihilate the source. He didn't find it. I don't think he looked that hard, and I can't say I blame him. Poor guy was traumatized this morning.

I took a look at his stings before bed - there were at least six, and one looked as though he might have been stung several times in the same spot. I hear that yellow jacket stings are very painful, but he's being a trooper. We're both thankful that he wasn't allergic to them.

Before he went to bed, I asked him to please not wake me up at 4 a.m. tomorrow. He asked me to please not leave him trash to take out. I guess that's a pretty fair deal.


  1. This is probably important for you to know: Yellowjackets often make nests in a van. Especially in our dark colored van. They'll make a nest in the hatch, in the gas door, and around wheel wells. My guess is the truck could be another place they'd build. Be so very careful.

  2. YUCK! Thanks for the warning. He finally found the nest built in the side of a hill (one that he unfortunately parks beside) but I'll be sure to pass on this bit of info to him too.

  3. Hi Kristin. My husband was stung a couple of times by wasps last month too... so was our pup. They are some nasty critters! The nest was hanging under a branch in a large bush. You can trust it's gone now! LOL