• Last modified 714 days ago (June 7, 2017)


Another Day in the County

Seeking help with the nature of things

© Another Day in the Country

The love of nature, preserving a healthy environment, and taking care of the wild things are important parts of my life.

I want to be in tune with Mother Nature. I want to be able to live in harmony with birds, bees and even foxes, respecting their boundaries and hoping they do the same.

However, once in a while, we run into trouble.

Sometimes, “trouble” means a bird has built a nest — or hopes to — some place that I deem inappropriate, like the swallows who swoop through under the porch gables.

I know swallows are useful insect eaters, but we’ve been near neighbors before, and they make horrible, indelible messes on any porch they inhabit.

Or nature comes in the form of the robin who built a nest right over the front door. It had to be removed.

Another year, house finches built a nest in the wreath on the front porch. It had to be removed before the eggs hatched and baby birds became cat nibbles.

For a while, we had bees in the wall over at the Ramona house. They’d been there for years and years.

One year, shortly after we moved in, they swarmed, and we called a local beekeeper to collect them. When the remaining bees got aggressive, we had to move them out — or, at least, attempt the process. I felt bad but it came down to them or me!

Last summer, I noticed what I thought were bumblebees in the roses that grow along the front porch area.

“How sweet,” I thought as I watched them buzzing through the flowers.

We looked up “facts about bumble bees” on Google, learning who drinks nectar, who doesn’t, and how long their lifespan is.

This summer, the bumblebee population has quadrupled. They haven’t stung anyone — yet — but they are certainly dive-bombing each other.

When my little buddy Clayton comes to play on the porch, he is understandably nervous,

“I don’t like those big bees,” he says.

“I don’t think they’ll hurt you,” I tell him, but he’s not convinced.

One lazy afternoon, having collapsed into a hammock, I stared at the woodwork above my head.

“Hmmm, I must have missed putting putty in that screw hole,” I mused to myself.

I had just painted this side of the porch and all the spindles in fall.

And then, right before my eyes, I saw one of those big old bumblebees come up to that screw hole and disappear inside!

What the heck? Those bumble bees were going inside that board? This meant they’d drilled a bigger space inside the board than just a screw hole opening.

Eyes open now for screw holes that weren’t, I realized that there were such openings in several spots along the porch trim. Mother Nature didn’t seem so friendly and benign now!

I’m sure that a whole bunch of you reading this column are shaking your heads in wonderment that I could be so naïve.

I went to the lumberyard — my solution for all kinds of troubling problems.

“What will get rid of bumblebees that burrow into wood?” I wanted to know. “It is serious, isn’t it? This is not just a live and let live with nature thing?”

“Oh, yeah,” Dale at the hardware store replied, “I’ve seen barns fall down because of those bees.”

Immediately, I’m envisioning my mother’s porch boards crumbling.

“Those babies eat their way out,” he went on, “They’re hard to get to.”

“What do you do?” I was wide-eyed and desperate.

“Oh, we hit them with a badminton racket and kill ’em,” he grinned — but was being truthful.

My shoulders slumped as he sold me malathion — with a list of cautions as long as my arm. So much for being at one with nature.

I’ve had questions before about strange things — that fungus that grows on cedar trees for one, and those fields of grain that were growing toward harvest when they suddenly were killed and chopped up, for another.

The Marion County Record came to my rescue with information on the front page about chopped-up crops.

So who knows what to do with bumblebees that eat wood? I’d like to spend another day in the country with my front porch intact.

Last modified June 7, 2017