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July 2, 2017

The Bees on the Porch

by Anne Paddock

It’s not that I want the bees to die. I just don’t want to share my house with them.

There is a beehive growing on the second floor porch of my house, three feet from my favorite white rocking chair that happens to be my de facto hiding-from-the-world space.  For days, I watch the bees work on their hive which gives me a full understanding of how the phrase “busy as a bee” came to be.

My mind wanders and it occurs to me that the housing industry would be completely different if we humans could figure out how to build homes as quickly as bees build hives. They all work together and don’t seem to worry about sub contractors not showing up; and the CEO is a female – a queen bee, to be exact. The bees actually work in beautiful harmony, which makes me feel guilty because I don’t want to share my porch with a beehive that is doubling in size every few days.

When I first noticed the hive a few days ago, it was the size of a quarter and I wasn’t too alarmed but then the hive grew to a the size of a ping-pong ball and now it could pass as a beaten up old Titlest golf ball.  I told my husband, knowing that if I just mentioned the name of a golf ball and beehive in the same sentence, he would get rid of the hive but then things got busy and he had to go out of town to attend a funeral. He will bid his friend, John goodbye while I plot the demise of the bees on my porch. Why is there so much death in the air?

So, I was left with the hive and as I said, I don’t want to kill them but I also don’t want them to build their home on my porch. The bees would probably disagree and say the porch is in their airspace but since I don’t speak bee and they don’t speak english, we are unable to negotiate. Otherwise, I would tell the bees I truly appreciate how much they do for the world and then ask these pollinators to build their hive somewhere else because we can’t live in such close proximity to each other.  I suppose this is how some people feel about others. They want them to thrive knowing they contribute to the world and everyone’s survival but they don’t want them to live in their backyard.

Sitting in my white rocking chair made of something called polywood (which reminds me of Dollywood, Hollywood, and Bollywood every time I read the glistening little plate on the side of the chair), I think of a short story I read in the New Yorker years ago about a house sitter who must handle the hornets nests that colonized the lawn he was supposed to be taking care of.  Was the author Jonathan Franzen or David Foster Wallace? I can’t remember. Note to self:  look that up. I wish I was dealing with hornets because then I wouldn’t have this tremendous guilt hanging over my head as I ponder the demise of the beehive in my happy space on the porch.

Prior to buying this house recently, we did a walk-thru with the seller who was British (known worldwide for their enthusiasm for gardening). She spent more time advising me how to take care of her many thorny rose bushes then the house. At one point, she advised me to use a toxic conconction to kill the Japanese Beetles intent on destroying the beautiful roses. Unbeknownst to me, the real estate agent was horrified and called me the next day to tell me not to use the sprays recommended by the seller because these toxins will kill the bees and we have to save the bees. She’s right; we do have to save the bees but I can’t figure out how to save the bees and my sanity. I would gladly sacrifice the rose bushes for the bees but I’m not sure I want to give up my rocking chair on the porch.

The saga continued over dinner tonight with my neighbors who advised me the “beehive”  on my porch is actually a hornet’s nest. I don’t know if I should be giddy about this news or embarrassed that I don’t know the difference between a beehive and a hornet’s nest.

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